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Consumer Alert: Be Aware of Brushing Scams

Friday, March 10, 2023

Our office has been alerted to reports of “brushing” scams. Brushing scams occur when a person receives a package from a business containing various items that they never ordered. The packages will be addressed to your residence, but usually do not have a return address or have the return address of a retailer. The scammer typically orders the merchandise using a third-party seller like Amazon or eBay. Their aim is to pose as a verified buyer of that product so they can post a fake positive review online to boost their product rating and popularity.

Although this type of scam seems victimless, it likely means that your personal information has been leaked and is available somewhere online. This information may be your name, address, or phone number. While you may not face any immediate harm from a “brushing” scam, your leaked personal information could set you up for another type of scam or identity theft in the future.

If you receive a package that you did not order yourself, follow these guidelines to protect yourself:

  • Notify the retailer. Most businesses encourage you to report fraudulent activity for security purposes. You should let them know that you received a package based on a fraudulent purchase so that they can take the appropriate steps to prevent it from happening again.
  • Do not send money for an unsolicited package. Contact the retailer directly and ask whether they are willing to pay for the return to them or let you keep the product at no cost to you. You should not pay for any return.
  • Change your passwords. It is very likely that your personal information has been compromised. You should immediately update your security settings and passwords for accounts you may have with various retailers.
  • Monitor your accounts. Keep an eye on your bank statements and credit reports to be sure that your more sensitive personal information has not been leaked. Consider putting a free security freeze in place as well – learn more at www.ncdoj.gov/securityfreeze.

If you think that you or somebody you know has been affected by a brushing scam, contact our office’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online.

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