If You Get This Package in the Mail, Don't Open It, Experts Warn
Experts say this kind of package may be part of a larger scam.
Our mailboxes are often filled to the brim with exciting things—from letters sent by loved ones to our latest Amazon haul. But just as often, mailboxes get crammed with things we don't want: bills, ads, and other junk mail. It's annoying, yes, but it's mostly harmless. Some unwanted mail, on the other hand, should be actively avoided. Experts are now warning that certain packages you receive in the mail could actually be part of a major scam. Read on to find out what kind of package you should never open.
If you get a package you didn't order in the mail, you shouldn't open it.
Packages are sometimes dropped off at the wrong location, so you might receive a package that's meant for someone else. But if you get a package you didn't order and see your name and address on the box, you should avoid opening it. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says that unordered packages are often the result of brushing scams. According to the agency, this is when lightweight and inexpensive merchandise is sent by foreign, third-party sellers to a customer who didn't order it. The USPS says it will send the package back at no charge to you if you haven't opened it and write "Return to Sender" on the box.
Sellers do this to create fake reviews.
According to the BBB, this is a way for scammers to create phony reviews on products to boost sales. "They then post a fake, positive review to improve their products' ratings, which means more sales for them. The payoff is highly profitable from their perspective," the BBB says.
The agency adds that, "By using the brushing scam, they also are increasing their sales numbers. After all, they aren't really purchasing the items, since the payment goes right back to them. Increased sales numbers, even though padded with fake purchases, look good for the company and helps lead to more sales."
The BBB says these scammers often impersonate Amazon.
Sometimes we order so many things that we can barely keep track of what's supposed to be coming in the mail—especially with Amazon, which often separates orders into multiple packages. It might be helpful to keep track of which Amazon purchases you are supposed to be receiving, because this brushing scam is often done with fake Amazon merchandise, per the BBB.
"Brushing and fake reviews are against Amazon's policies, so contact Amazon Customer Service if this happens to you and the product appears to come from Amazon," the BBB says. "They will investigate and take action on the bad actor."
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If you do receive one of these packages, your information may be compromised.
According to the BBB, these scammers are simply using your address because they were able to find it online. "The fact that someone was able to have the items sent to you as if you purchased them indicates that they probably have some of your personal information such as your name, address, and possibly, your phone number," the bureau explains. "Once the information is out there on the internet, it could be used for numerous crooked enterprises."
If you do receive an unordered package, you should change your account passwords to improve security in case your personal information was compromised. The BBB also advises that you keep a close eye on credit reports and credit card bills for more fraudulent activities.