Skip to content

What is a Brushing Scam?

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in CrimeNovember 06, 2020

With the holidays fast approaching and the pandemic in full swing, more people are ordering online from various online marketplaces than ever before. Unfortunately, scammers know this and thus are taking advantage of innocent victims by using a new technique called brushing scams.

brushing scam

The Better Business Bureau has begun warning consumers about brushing scams that are becoming popular all over the U.S. So, what is a brushing scam?

You arrive home to find an unexpected package sitting on your front porch. You don’t even remember ordering anything; that’s because you didn’t! Brushing scams are when individuals or companies send you free items or empty boxes from online accounts on Amazon or other big e-commerce retailers. Typically, there will be no return address on the mysterious packages. The Amazon packages usually contain merchandise that is cheap, unwanted items like toothbrushes or vacuum cleaner parts, or sometimes things like flashlights and even Bluetooth speakers.

The items sent to victims are often lightweight so that they can be shipped for little money, things like ping pong balls, face masks, or plant seeds from China.

Why Do People Use Brushing Scams?

Sometimes companies trying to earn top ratings on sites like eBay or Amazon send out fake orders to boost their sales numbers. They can also post positive reviews under your account once they have placed an order in your name and shipped it to you directly. Fake reviews are part of the ruse.

The perpetrators are often foreign-based, third-party sellers trying to establish a presence on retail vendor sites and ramp up the products’ ratings. If you don’t have accounts with the vendors, a scammer might open a fake account for you in your name and enter your address as the shipping destination to send the unsolicited packages. They can usually find your personal data online.

How Does a Brushing Scam Work? 

It might seem nice at first, getting free stuff that you didn’t order and didn’t have to pay for, but it’s not that simple. The first issue is that when these scammers use you to boost sales and ratings, it dupes other buyers into purchasing their products, which are usually junk. Therefore, you can’t really trust ratings on sites like Amazon because you have no idea how many of the sales are actually real.

The second larger issue is that someone has your personal information and used it to perpetrate brushing scams but could also be using it for identity theft and fraud.

Another method used by some bad actors is that they set up an account in your name, order merchandise, and then watch for it to be delivered and swipe it off your porch before you can get it. In these cases, you may or may not be charged. If the thief has your account login, that can be very dangerous for various reasons.

How Do Scammers Get Your Information?

There have been numerous data breaches over the past few years, and most Americans have been included in at least one of them. Typically, the information stolen is usernames and passwords, but in many of them, hackers acquired names, addresses, bank accounts, and phone numbers of victims. Due to the vast public records online and open social media profiles, diligent scammers can get pretty much any information they need to perform all types of fraudulent, criminal acts.

COVID has increased the number of data breaches, and treasure troves of data leaks have shown up on the dark web for sale. Chances are your information is somewhere in one of them.

How to Report a Brushing Scam?

It’s much easier to prevent a crime rather than to pick up the pieces after it has already happened. If you have already been “brushed,” then you should contact the Federal Trade Commission ( and report the incident. You might also consider contacting the vendor (Amazon, e-Bay, etc.) and local law enforcement to report it. They may be able to trace it back to the original scammer and remove their account. You can help protect other victims from buying the scammers’ junk by doing this. You can check the website to find out how to contact Amazon.

If you see reviews posted in your name, report those also. That could be another part of a brushing scam.

How to Stop Brushing Scam?

Some other things you can do to protect yourself against brushing scams and identity theft are:

  • Protect your personal information at all costs.
  • Never give out personal details to anyone who calls or asks for it by email.
  • Don’t immediately trust online reviews.
  • When shopping online, only trust verified buyer reviews and approved online sellers.
  • Watch out for different types of brushing schemes.
  • Change your account passwords often.
  • Keep a close eye on your credit reports looking for fraud.
  • Always use strong passwords.
  • Perform a personal background check on yourself to see what information is out there in public records about you and take steps to change it.
  • Keep your computer and mobile devices updated with the latest security patches.
  • Use good, strong antivirus/anti-malware software and run deep scans often.
  • Be on the lookout for phishing emails and delete them.
  • NEVER click a link in an email.
  • Keep a close eye on your bank account and credit card statements looking for suspicious activity.
  • Sign up for credit monitoring to protect your credit and accounts.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to use common sense. If something appears to be “too good to be true,” it usually is.

About the Author

Related Articles

News Article

NFL Players with Criminal Records

In 2019, an average of 16.5 million people watched NFL football games. Sundays during football season are... Read More

News Article

Difference Between Expungement & Sealing of Criminal Records

Having a criminal record can cripple a person’s chances for many opportunities in life. Along with ... Read More

News Article

A Full Guide on Social Engineering Attacks

Social Engineering Definition What is social engineering? Social engineering attacks are a new approac... Read More

News Article

7 Most Dangerous Cities in Michigan

Michigan is one of the largest and most populated states in America. Located in the Great Lakes and Midwe... Read More

News Article

Mass Shootings in the US

Mass Shootings Statistics and Timeline Unpredictable mass shootings rock the United States with sporad... Read More

Uncover Hidden Information About Anyone: