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Christmas gift or scam?: Beware of unexpected Amazon packages that show up on your doorstep

People receiving deliveries they didn't order
Holiday Shipping packages
Posted at 4:00 AM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 09:18:32-05

Scammers are sending "gifts" to people for the holidays.

Karen Baumann opened her front door the other day and wondered who had sent her a present. It was an Amazon Prime mailer with a fancy ink pen inside.

"The first one to arrive was a pen, in a silver box, that looks to be a calligraphy pen," Baumann said.

But no one she knew had sent it, and the package's return address just said "Amazon."

She thought it was an innocent mistake until a second package showed up a few days later.

This time, the Amazon box contained a scooter for a little child. Baumann has no young children.

Known as the "brushing" scam

She used Amazon's webchat program and learned she may have been a victim of the "brushing" scam.

The Better Business Bureau says that's when a third-party seller gets a person's address and information and sends them an inexpensive item without ordering it to boost their rankings on Amazon.

Other victims have reported receiving socks, seeds and face masks, which is what Angela Osborne received last summer.

"I noticed this odd package at my door with Chinese writing, and I said, 'I didn't order anything from China,'" Osborne said at the time.

However, it's not always harmless.

In Baumann's case, the scammer had access to her Amazon account and billed her $80 for the pen and scooter.

"I've had to get a new Visa card," she said.

Sometimes the items show up with no charge. But that still means someone now has that customer's name, address and possibly their Amazon credentials.

Victims of brushing scams may want to change their Amazon account number and password just to be safe.

Baumann is glad she caught the small items before someone made an even bigger purchase. So be careful and don't waste your money.

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