The prevalence of Amazon brushing scam poses huge challenges and casts a shadow on consumer trust and integrity. These deceptive tactics include fake reviews and unsolicited deliveries, as well as manipulation of online platforms like Amazon. These scams circumvent Amazon’s quality control measures and impact consumer trust and marketplace authenticity. This article aims to help you understand the dangers and building your own defenses against these scams is key to protecting your online presence.
What Are Amazon Brushing Scams?
Amazon brushing scams involve sellers creating fake customer accounts to give positive reviews to their own products, deceiving other shoppers and influencing their buying decisions. Sometimes, the seller may send an empty box or a low-quality item to the fake account and quickly refund them. This tactic is used to generate a verified purchase, making their fraudulent reviews appear more legitimate.
Such scams not only erode consumer trust but also pose a threat to the integrity of the Amazon marketplace. 3PL delivery services are especially susceptible to this type of fraud as they often have minimal buyer verification processes before shipping out orders. It is crucial for Amazon and its users to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to ensure a safe and trustworthy online shopping experience for all.
Read More: How to Buy Unclaimed Amazon Packages
Why Is It Called Brushing?
The term “Brushing” is used to describe a type of scam where scammers manage to bypass the quality control inspection of a third-party logistics (3PL) company and proceed to sell their products to unsuspecting Amazon customers. This deceptive practice involves the scammer swiftly passing their products through the inspection process of the 3PL company.
However, since Amazon upholds stringent standards for product quality, any items that fail to meet these standards are promptly rejected and returned to the seller. By utilizing a 3PL company with lower quality standards, scammers are able to successfully brush their products and present them on Amazon as genuine and legitimate offerings.
Due to Amazon’s commitment to maintaining high-quality products, it is crucial for customers to remain vigilant and cautious when making purchases. By being aware of the existence of brushing scams, customers can take necessary precautions to ensure they are not deceived by fraudulent sellers.
How Do Brushing Scams Work?
In a typical brush scam, scammers lure buyers with a tempting offer of a high-priced product at a significantly reduced price. However, when the buyer tries to make the purchase, they are redirected to a different webpage or site where they are prompted to enter their credit card details. Unfortunately, these scammers exploit this information to carry out fraudulent charges.
This deceptive practice is commonly known as a “brushing scam” because the scammers often adopt the name of a well-known company like Amazon to give it an air of legitimacy. Sometimes, the buyer may even receive an order confirmation email that appears genuine from Amazon. However, if you hover over the link provided in the email, you’ll discover that it does not lead to Amazon’s official website.
The Purpose of Brushing Scams
According to the Better Business Bureau, companies engaging in this practice are aiming to boost their product ratings on e-commerce platforms. This, in turn, leads to a surge in online sales. By utilizing your address, which they likely found online, these companies create the illusion that you are a genuine buyer of their merchandise. They then proceed to fabricate positive online ratings and reviews, attributing them to you.
The allure of significantly increasing sales through a large number of online reviews is believed to be worth the effort of shipping products to fictitious customers. This is why brushing schemes often involve lightweight and inexpensive-to-ship items.
To leave a review on Amazon, one must first make a purchase and become a verified buyer. Once you earn this label, you can share your thoughts about the product you ordered. Similarly, when a company sends you a product without your prior order, they can exploit your name to post a favorable review online, thus making you a verified buyer in the eyes of others.
In addition to manipulating their sales figures, these companies are also engaging in fraudulent practices through brushing scams. However, the Better Business Bureau highlights that even fake sales can benefit the companies behind these schemes. The increased sales figures may convince other customers to spend more money on their products.
What to Do If You Are Involved in an Amazon Brushing Scam?
Before anything else, it’s a good idea to inquire with people you know to see if any of them have sent you a gift. Additionally, check the package for a return address as it can assist you in your investigation. If no one admits to ordering something for you on Amazon, it is likely that you are facing a brushing scam. In such a case, here are the steps you should take next:
Report the Scam to Amazon
To get assistance with unwanted packages from Amazon, reach out to their Customer Service team and provide them with an order ID, the number of packages you received that you didn’t want, and a photo of a shipping label if possible. You won’t need to return any packages related to brushing scams, so feel free to keep them.
Change Your Amazon Password
Now is the perfect opportunity to update your Amazon password, even if you didn’t purchase these items through your Amazon account. It’s advisable to create a lengthy and intricate password, ensuring that you don’t reuse it for any other online platforms. Simplify the process of generating and managing your passwords with NordPass, a reliable password manager.
Protect Your Finances
It’s common for companies promoting their own products or third-party sellers to pay for packages sent in brushing scams. It’s important to keep an eye on your bank account and credit card statements and reach out to your bank or credit card provider if you notice any suspicious activity.
Report the Scam to the Better Business Bureau
Amazon strictly prohibits brushing schemes, as they not only violate their terms of service but also exemplify unethical business practices. If you have encountered such a situation, the Better Business Bureau provides a complaint form specifically designed to address concerns related to the company involved.
Get Your Personal Information off the Clear Web
The scammers somehow managed to obtain your name and address, which raises the question of how they acquired this information and what other details they possess about you. It is highly likely that they obtained this data by scraping information from a data broker, specifically a people search site. These companies specialize in gathering information on individuals and either selling or sharing searchable profiles.
To verify this, you can conduct a search using any search engine of your choice. Try searching for your name, as well as your home address and phone number. You will likely come across numerous people search sites in the search results. However, it’s important to note that these search results only scratch the surface, as there are hundreds of data brokers operating in the United States alone, and many of them do not appear in these search results.
Due to state data privacy laws, data brokers are required to have opt-out procedures in place, allowing individuals to remove their information from their databases. However, the process is not easy and can be time-consuming. On average, it takes an estimated 300+ hours to opt out of all the data brokers that possess your information. Additionally, profiles have a tendency to reappear over time, so it is necessary to periodically check back with each data broker after opting out for the first time.
Fortunately, there are automated personal information removal services like Incogni that can simplify this entire process. Incogni takes care of all the leg work for you by identifying which data brokers have your information and sending them opt-out requests on your behalf. It can send out multiple opt-out requests simultaneously and follow up with data brokers on your behalf.
Check Which of Your Accounts Have Been Breached
It’s highly unlikely that brushing scam operators would obtain information from a data breach that resulted in data being sold or shared on the dark web. Accessing the dark web is not easy or safe for those who are not tech-savvy, and searching for information on it can be notoriously difficult.
Fortunately, there is a website called https://haveibeenpwned.com that can help you determine which of your accounts have been involved in data breaches. If you use the same password for multiple accounts, it’s possible that all of those accounts have been compromised. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to use a password manager.
Navigating the danger zone of Amazon brushing scams requires vigilance, tenacity, and smart decision-making. Arm yourself with the insights and strategies provided in this article to resist and prevent falling victim to these deceptive practices. Empowerment is not just about awareness, but also about proactive steps you take to strengthen your online presence and ensure a safe and trustworthy e-commerce environment for everyone.