What are brushing scams? Why you receive unexpected packages

Anton P. | October 11, 2023

Brushing scams could be behind you getting an unexpected package delivery. While shoppers might feel excited about the pleasant mixup, it is not necessarily harmless. 

The threat is that scammers exploit your personal information, like names and home addresses. Also, the intention behind brushing scams is to write fake positive reviews for the seller in your name. 

Thus, while these scams might seem harmless, they are dangerous as someone poses as you online. Let’s dig deeper into brushing scams and why unexpected packages might not be an accidental gift or mistake. 

Learn how to deal with brushing scams or unexpected packages.

What are brushing scams? 

Brushing scams occur when victims receive unexpected packages from e-commerce sellers. 

  • It means scammers have your personal information, like your name and an address for shipping goods. So, they try to make you a verified buyer of a particular item. 
  • Then, scammers can leave online reviews for the third-party seller, likely boosting the product’s ratings via positive feedback. 
  • However, they will do this under your name, stealing your identity for such fake reviews. 

Why is it called brushing? 

Brushing scams have the word ‘brushing’ because sellers attempt to brush or clean up their reputation. It is an illegal trick to improve your status on popular e-commerce sites like Amazon, eBay, or AliExpress. 

Because of this scam, beware of positive reviews that might come from scammers exploiting other people’s identities. 

Private Christmas & a safe New Year!


What is the point of brushing scams? 

The goal of brushing scams is to post fake positive reviews for various sellers under other people’s names. So, it aims to boost sales numbers by making the seller and the product more trustworthy. 

Thus, if scammers repeat this process repeatedly, they can generate hundreds of fake reviews. Since online shoppers pay much attention to other buyers’ opinions, rating boosts can influence many other purchases.

How do brushing scams work

Scammers perform brushing fraud in a series of steps: 

  1. They gather users’ personal information to initiate orders. For the scam to work, they need your name and address. 
  2. Scammers create fake accounts featuring other people’s information. The account might be with Amazon, eBay, or AliExpress. 
  3. The fraudsters use fake accounts to order their products. The sold products do not cost a lot to produce or ship. Thus, usually, sellers using brushing scams do not offer high-quality products. So, they need fake reviews to boost their ratings. 
  4. The victims receive the unwanted products via mail or at their doorsteps. The packages will likely have no proper return address. 
  5. After the parcel gets marked as delivered, the scammers will post glowing reviews of the product. 

How to stop brushing scams

You can do your best to prevent brushing scams from targeting you. The key is to protect your personal information as much as possible. Here are some tips for preventing your data from getting exploited by scammers: 

  • Have multiple email addresses for different purposes. For instance, you can dedicate one email to online stores or company newsletters.
  • Do not overshare online by mentioning your address or phone number on social media or other public places. 
  • Be wary of social engineering strategies to get your personal information via email, social media, or text messages.
  • Protect your devices and accounts using strong passwords, antivirus tools, VPNs, and 2FA. 
  • Keep track of your data and see if it has not leaked in data breaches. Atlas VPN can help you do this via our Data Breach Monitor. It alerts you when your data has been compromised.

How to deal with a brushing scam

If you received a package without ordering anything, check if it was not a gift or a promotional campaign. If there is no reason behind the parcel, notify the retailer platform.

Third-party sellers cannot send unwanted packages to customers. Thus, Amazon has a Report Unwanted Package form. 

Unwanted packages also indicate that scammers have your personal information. Therefore, be careful with your other accounts and keep track of their activity. Change passwords, add 2FA, or even close affected accounts if necessary.

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.


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