Just when you thought you were prepared for all of the scams (online, in-person, over the phone, etc.), here’s a NEW one to worry about.

We just found out that one of the latest scams is making its way around New Jersey. It’s called the ‘Brushing Scam’.

And I gotta say… this is definitely a scam that I’m worried I could fall victim to.

Here’s what we know:

What Is a Brushing Scam?

A brushing scam involves receiving a package that you didn’t expect through the mail. That’s what the United States Postal Inspection Service says.

USPS Processes Packages At Tennessee Facility
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You’ll receive a package, that you didn’t order. However, it’s likely to be addressed to you (the recipient). There is no return address. The seller (usually a third party) found your address online essentially.

Why Did I Receive a Package I Didn’t Order?

The third party will send you the package so they can write positive online reviews of the merchandise. They write a fake review in your name, The United States Postal Inspection Service warns.

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The merchandise is usually cheap and pretty cheap to ship so it often leads to an increase in sales in the long run so it’s worth it for the scammer.

This is illegal in the United States and other countries, but why?

Why Is a Brushing Scam Dangerous?

Brushing scams are dangerous because after you get your free stuff, your personal information is likely compromised.

The scammers probably got your info illegally and it’s likely they may use it again for future scams (sometimes more serious scams).

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
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In some cases, they use your info to steal the package before you’re able to intercept it.
Plus, your fake review may help others buy “worthless stuff,” the Postal Service says.

What to Do If You’re a Victim of a Brushing Scam?

If you received a package with merchandise you didn’t order, you have a few options:

  • Return to Sender - If you didn’t order it, don’t open it. You can mark it RETURN TO SENDER and USPS will handle it.
  • Throw It Away - If you opened the package, just throw it away.
USPS Processes Packages At Tennessee Facility
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  • You Can Keep It - If you opened the item and you like it, you may keep it. You are under no obligation to pay for it.

How to Protect Yourself From Brushing Scams

  • Don’t Pay for Merchandise - Don’t be talked into paying for the merchandise.
  • Change Your Account Passwords - Your personal info may be compromised.
  • Monitor Your Credit History - Check your credit card statements and monitor your accounts.
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Ralf Geithe
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  • Notify Authorities and Retailers - You can notify the retailer and the authorities if you’re concerned. If it’s liquid or an organic substance, you can follow the instructions of local authorities.

LOOK: The biggest scams today and how you can protect yourself from them

Using data from the BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report, Stacker identified the most common and costly types of scams in 2022.

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