/ Money

Beware this new Amazon ‘brushing’ scam

A Which? Money member contacted us when Amazon Prime deliveries they didn’t order turned up on their doorstep. Do you know what a ‘brushing’ scam is? We explain the details.

An Amazon Prime member recently let our Which? Money team know that they’d been sent two items they didn’t order and hadn’t paid for; a carbon monoxide detector and some gaming headphones.

When they called Amazon, they were told that the account used to purchase them wasn’t theirs, and that they were paid for with gift vouchers.

Three days later, they received two more packages – braids and a screen protector – but they refused to accept them. Again the member called Amazon, which put a block on the spurious account.

The member then changed their password and ordered a new credit card. No more orders arrived, but why were they sent to them in the first place?

Brushing scams explained

At first glance, receiving packages you haven’t paid for might seem like a great problem to have. But it’s likely to be a new scam known as ‘brushing’.

This type of fraud involves Amazon sellers setting up accounts in a stranger’s name, then sending their products to an unsuspecting recipient.

They then use this account they’ve set up to write fake ‘verified reviews’ in a bid to improve their seller ratings.

In this case, it’s likely that the member’s name and address had been leaked somewhere. We contacted Amazon and it assured us that the member’s genuine account hadn’t been compromised.

With the member’s permission, we also checked their email address on haveibeenpwned.com, a website that tells you whether your data has been part of a breach. In this case, the data had been involved in at least four.

What to do if you’re a victim of ‘brushing’

It’s always good to be cautious where personal data is concerned, so the member was right to report the incident to Amazon, change their password and order a new credit card.

See all our Consumer Rights scams advice

Identity theft is a serious threat as once a criminal has access to your personal information, they can do everything from open an account in your name and run up debt, or use it to get copies of your official documents.

You can ready more on what identity theft is and what to do if you think your information has been compromised in our guide.

Have you had free packages turn up in your name? If so, what did you do? Would you report them or keep them?

Comments

Hi, I received two parcels in May from Amazon that I did not order. I contacted Amazon and reported it. I was told they would investigate and I would get a call within the next 24/48 hours. They told me that the items had been paid for by a gift card. I did not hear from them.
Today I received my third parcel a nail heat lamp and an eye massager. I did not order these items. I contacted Amazon who told me that I had two accounts with them ( I only have one account with Amazon) the second account has my name, address and telephone number but a different email address ( I only have one email address) I was told that the investigating team will be contacting me within 24/48, so it will be interesting to see if they actually do this time, I was told that once they have sorted it they will send me a returns label so I can send these items back.

jim says:
23 July 2019

they told me they wont take them back. just bin them or send to charity shop.
worrying that they actually told you that all your details had been used to create another account.
every time i asked they refused due to data protection so i kept arguing so what about my data protection and they wouldnt answer that one.
this is spreading like wild fire and i think its time for watchdog to look into it.

I had same thing

Lauren says:
27 May 2020

This is exactly what happened to me. I’m waiting for amazon to get back to me about this other account, what happened with yours in the end?

Denise says:
18 September 2019

My husband has received about 15 parcels from Amazon, about 25 items in total over a three month period, so far. All are from China.
My husband doesn’t even have an Amazon account. He has rung them and they told him what was happening but they seemed very unconcerned. They told him they would investigate it then email him their results. He had to remind him that he didn’t have an account with them. They then said there was nothing they could do, but he could keep the items!
We received more parcels so he rung again. This time they said they were able to trace the address where they were coming from, but due to data protection they could not let us know who was sending them. He was told that a block would be put on his name at our address and it would all stop. It didn’t.
Today we have received yet another parcel,
Have rung again today and been told that this would now be escalated, which hasn’t been done before.
Hopefully this is the last of the unwanted parcels.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Denise says:
19 September 2019

Hi Duncan
Yes, after reading this thread yesterday I now realise what is going on. We had previously been racking our brains trying to work out who would have sent us these things. We initially thought it was “malicious” but then wondered who it could be as some of the items were not cheap and would anyone really go to this much effort? Some items we’ve been sent I’d looked at myself on Amazon and somewhat linked to the family. So it really has been quite unnerving. We are almost relieved knowing that it’s companies boosting their product reviews. Still so wrong though.
The item we received yesterday was a Beikell Posture Corrector and at present it has 27 five star reviews!!!
I was hoping to see if I could work out who has been sending us our items from the reviews, but then I realised if they are sending us items maybe they are also sending/ “gifting” other people items from the same account so maybe it won’t be as easy as I thought. We’ll see.
Thanks for replying

Simon Brown says:
22 November 2019

Good luck trying to contact Amazon. I couldn’t find a way to ask them the question I wanted to ask or report potential brushing.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This is the Amazon contact number i used Customer service: 0800 279 7234

ive only received another two random packets last month, one amazon box and a prime box even though i do not have prime.

so who is brave enough. i emailed watchdog with all the details. took me roughly an hour to type it all out on their webpage, sent, spinning loading symbol then wiped page without sending so i gave up.

if anyone is that worried then maybe you would have better success in contacting watchdog > https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mg74

Bruce says:
28 January 2020

Six computer gaming ‘motherboard’ costing several hundred pounds left on doorstep. Unsolicited goods… as no Amazon order placed by me!
I do NOT ask Amazon delivery drivers to leave goods in a safe place – as I realise this compromises my rights should an item be stolen from outside. However, some Amazon drivers have RECENTLY been leaving goods I’ve ordered on the doorstep – yet marking them as: ‘handed to resident’. Could be co-incidence or a dry run for some scam where a second driver collects goods from an unsuspecting householder’s front door… who hasn’t ordered anything – so isn’t expecting a delivery! Worrying trend! How much of my personal data do these people hold…or is it a glitch in the system?

Requested Amazon collect goods. Not happy about having them in house though – for reasons I’m sure you can imagine!!!

Hev says:
28 March 2020

I have received what look like 4 x Amazon order confirmation emails and delivery dates for items I have not ordered, they do not appear on ‘my orders’ on Amazon but they ARE now in my browsing history even though I have never looked at them! I checked my bank account and the difference between my balance and available funds (ie some payments pending which haven’t been taken out yet) is the exact amount these items come to. I have reported it to the bank and Amazon.

Looks as though I was also a victim on the 28th March. Received two order confirmations via email for items I hadn’t ordered. I’d been charged for them and also a week’s Prime membership. I stopped the orders before they arrived on my doorstep, but amazingly both orders were reviewed on the 30th March. The name I use for reviewing has also been changed somehow….. Amazon not overly reassuring me so far and very difficult to speak to.

Julie says:
23 April 2020

I had the same thing and my bank refunded me for 3 x transactions. Worth cancelling your debit / credit card.

Hev says:
2 April 2020

Can someone help, further to my comments about my experience left on 28/3/20, my account has been debited for the unwanted items which have been delivered to my address. Would this still be a brushing scam, as i understood the rest of you didn’t have to pay for the things you hadn’t ordered, thanks.

Hev, do you have a link to the item(s)? If you remove the https:// they won’t get held for moderation.

jim says:
3 April 2020

Hi Hev
i would say your situation is something different and nothing like the majority on here who just received random items for free and then random 5* reviews left for those items.
by any chance did you click on any link in the emails you received. these are crafty buggers and im guessing the links were a way of you unsuspectingly authorizing these orders even though you didnt make the order yourself.
i would defo get onto your bank again and also amazon. This is the Amazon contact number i used Customer service: 0800 279 7234 but like everywhere expect delays due to covid19 and short staff.
most importantly change your amazon password asap with a 10-15 digit upper,lower and numbers.

This is exactly what has happened to me. I have just been debited the amount and cannot get through to amazon (just the useless auto email reply), so have cancelled my credit card. Slightly relieved to see I’m not the only one and it’s more likely to be an amazon scam rather than some kind of identity theft.

Julie says:
23 April 2020

I had an e-mail notification saying that the Amazon goods I ordered (camcorder, humidifyer, hairdryer, spycams) had been dispatched, none of which I had actually ordered. I have tried to contact Amazon but can’t get any sense out of them. My debit card was charged £0.77 for the goods (bargain!) which I have now cancelled and the bank have refunded me. I’m just waiting to see whether anything turns up now – and if it does, do I have to return the items? I don’t want any of these items but going to the post office to return will be a complete pain! At the same time, it seems wrong to keep them.

I received two parcels last week cordless earphones and water bottle amounting to about £40. told my account and card as been charged but on checking bank it hadn’t until 3 days after contacting amazon. Now awaiting the “specialist team” to send me yet another automated response, when all i want is to return items i haven’t ordered and get my money back. Now were in a pandemic but really shouldn’t be this hard. Up till now never had problems with amazon customer services but this is turning into a nightmare!!

Marion says:
15 May 2020

Just had my sister on the phone, she had called earlier in the day saying she had received three emails from Amazon saying her orders would be with her today. She knew she had not ordered anything, she probably does not even have an Amazon account, so we thought there was nothing to worry about, wrong, Amazon tried to deliver two things, luckily she was of course at home, so refused to accept them. She is now worried that her Visa card might be charged. She does not have access to that account online so would need to check with the bank branch. Any advice?

Bridget says:
16 May 2020

My issue is that Amazon drivers leave all neighbours parcels on my front doorstep. Do not ring the bell [ obvs ] so usually I do not know they are there. This has been sometimes 2 or 3 parcels a week for the last 18 months. At first I did not mind as we live in a rural community & wanted to be a good neighbour, but now I’m fed up with it. I have to take in parcels as don’t want them to get wet; [ coronavirus ? ] text neighbours, & arrange for them to “safely” collect . Not the neigbours fault as correct name and address on [ very different to mine ]. I’ve spoken to a number of drivers if I can catch them:-( and also Amazon who couldn’t care less. As someone over 70 with serious health issues, this is now a real problem. Can I legally bin them as not correctly delivered to the recipient?

Bridget, have you tried to find out why this is happening?

Are your neighbours giving your address in their delivery instructions: When you order something online, there is often the opportunity to say where you would like parcels left if you are out when they are delivered. If you agreed to take delivery some time in the past, you might still be there as a default.

Are addresses difficult to find in your immediate vicinity? You could ask offending neighbours to put their house names or numbers outside in the road where they can be seen by delivery drivers. A number painted on a stone or piece of wood does the trick. Failing that, put a sign up outside pointing drivers in the direction of the houses they seem unable to find.

Is there any chance your neighbours are doing this as an excuse to check if you are OK?

Steph says:
23 May 2020

I had an email from amazon saying thank you for my orders (orders I didn’t make) checked my bank account and 3 transactions pending that I never made. Contacted amazon and they told me to change my password ect and rang my bank and they sent me a new card…. but today got an email saying thank you for my reviews (of said 3 items) …. so does this mean they are still accessing my account?? Worried

Lauren says:
27 May 2020

I’m currently going through this and Amazon have confirmed I have 2 accounts but one with an email address that is not mine. They can’t tell me anything about the account without me confirming the email address which obviously I don’t know!! The items were also paid for by gift card. I’m waiting to hear back from the specialty team. It’s rather worrying this account is in my name and address, luckily I’ve moved but they’re now going to my old address in my name!

PNH says:
28 May 2020

I found this article very helpful.

I have had multple items delievered in Amazon packages; about 8 random items recently. These use our Amazon address details; but contain no order information or return address.
Reporting it to Amazon they have been surprisingly unhelpul and difficult. They refuse to discuss it; only telling me to keep the packages if I want to (I don’t!).
They claim no data breach; but will not explain how my family home address details are being shared.

Mr M Ashley says:
20 June 2020

I have received two items in one not ordered package £39 .96 has been taken from my account.I contacted amazon who said my account was ok .Canceled my bank card .I have one item waiting for payment on my account not ordered .Next two made up reviews appear .I have placed all the details in a file and emailed them to amazon three days ago still no response .What a dodgy firm

JT says:
6 July 2020

So I currently have 32 Amazon Parcels in my garage None if which have been ordered by me …
*Nothing in my account
*No monies debited to my card or anything
I emailed Amazon after the 1st two Parcels but To date No Reply this has been going in for 3 weeks now and they just keep coming..

How do I confirm if in fact this is the brushing scam… they won’t get far with my details they certainly won’t get them any credit that’s for sure.

Jen T says:
8 July 2020

Iv received a further 4 parcels since I posted this wtf am I supposed to do if amazon won’t respond to me????

Erin says:
7 July 2020

I’m pretty shocked reading this, but like the previous poster it seems quite difficult to know how to tell whether you are a victim of this scam. I ordered something on Amazon a few weeks go, the item showed up yesterday (not as described and in a completely different language) but also came with another parcel I hadn’t ordered. What struck me as odd – the Fedex man was determined he needed a signature for them (when as far as I’m aware they shouldn’t be asking for signatures) I’m eight months pregnant and he stood in the doorway waving this pad in my face, I felt quite upset because he wasn’t keeping his distance so just signed and decontaminated myself after. I checked my bank account and only the money for the item I ordered had been taken. The item I ordered was around £54, the ‘free’ item is around £89. I tried to speak to someone at Amazon who was possibly the rudest and most unhelpful person I have ever spoken to, however hard I explained he just couldn’t seem to get what I was saying and made no effort to understand. I mentioned it sounded like a scam that was reported to Which? and he really wasn’t bothered. Then I tried to email the company but they don’t seem to understand what I’m saying either, I think there is a language barrier. I’ve done the sensible thing and changed my password and cancelled my card.

Sharon dudley says:
8 July 2020

I had this problem fir 11 weeks last year. Two parcels a week in the name of Dale Amaro . Contacted amazon repeatedly who just said to keep the parcels while they investigated. Asked them to contact the police and they refused.

Beedog says:
8 July 2020

New victim here!…I feel like Ive joined a special club against my will! I received a random ball of string on monday, sent from Amazon Germany via DPD next day delivery! Today I received some Ear Cleaner for my dog! The scary thing is though we have Alexa, and two days ago my wife and I had a conversation about my dogs ears needing cleaned! Something dodgy somewhere is going on…

Margaret Bereford says:
9 July 2020

Yet another victim here. I have had four Amazon parcels delivered to my address this week, in my name. Weird things, that could not be described as ‘gifts’. Animal repellent sticks, feminine hygiene products, phone power bank. We were targeted by fraud in our bank account last year so I’m always ‘twitchy’. Spoke to Amazon chat who were useless, told me these were gifts and why was I not happy? I said I feel like I have been stalked. Then they admitted an unauthorised account was set up in my name using ‘my’ amex card – I don’t have an amex card. Today I got emails telling me my eBay and Apple accounts have been hacked and to change passwords. It all seems a bit coincidental – I am hoping its random (if you can hope to be a victim of identity theft) because the alternative being actually targeted and someone knows me is just too scary.

Lucien says:
14 July 2020

5 parcels in 3 weeks, and now also One time Password texts, sometimes 3 times a day, changed password and account settings etc and still getting them. Spoken to Amazon twice and zero response, just keep the parcels they say…ridiculous.