Brushing Scams Revealed: Recognising and Avoiding Unsolicited Package Frauds

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Unexpected parcels on your doorstep can be perplexing, and potentially, a brushing scam in action—manipulating ratings and reviews across e-commerce platforms only your name. Recognise the tactics of brushing scams, understand the privacy risks involved, and arm yourself with the knowledge to prevent and combat these scams as you navigate online shopping, all detailed ahead in this article.

Key Takeaways

  • Brushing scams involve sending unsolicited packages to individuals to create fake reviews and artificially inflate seller ratings on e-commerce platforms, posing risks to personal data and customer trust.

  • Victims of brushing scams can face compromised personal information potentially leading to identity theft and financial fraud, while also affecting their confidence in online shopping due to deceptive reviews.

  • Preventing brushing scams involves reporting incidents to e-commerce platforms and authorities, enhancing personal cybersecurity with strong passwords and two-factor authentication, and monitoring financial accounts for suspicious activity.

Unmasking Brushing Scams: What They Are and How They Operate

Unsolicited packages being delivered - Brushing Scams

Imagine you’re a seller on an an online marketplace platform, and your sales are not as high as you’d like them to be. The solution? A deceptive practice called a brushing scam. This involves sending unsolicited packages to unsuspecting individuals to artificially inflate seller ratings and create fabricated positive reviews. But how do brushing scams work?

This fraudulent tactic operates by obtaining the recipient’s name and return address, typically from the internet, and shipping them an unsolicited package containing unsolicited merchandise without their knowledge.

The role of fake accounts

The scamming strategy of brushing extends beyond merely shipping unsolicited packages. The fraudsters also establish fake seller accounts on e-commerce sites. These manipulated accounts, or fake account, are subsequently utilised for product sales and the posting of fake reviews.

The repercussions of these fabricated reviews, especially when individuals or businesses post fake reviews, are considerable. They conjure a false sense of product credibility and popularity, leading customers to purchase products that might not meet their standards.

The process of sending unsolicited packages

The crucial component of brushing scams involves shipping unordered packages. Fraudsters create a facade of legitimate transactions by delivering unsolicited parcels to actual addresses, thereby enhancing their seller ratings and reputation. They obtain recipients’ addresses through online searches, raising serious privacy concerns.

To the unsuspecting victims, these mystery packages may seem like a harmless error or a generous gift. However, behind the scenes, they serve a deceitful purpose.

Protect yourself from parcel delivery scams, read our informative blog and learn how.

The Dangers of Brushing Scams: Risks and Consequences

Fake reviews manipulation - Brushing Scams

The implications of brushing scams surpass the mere annoyance of unanticipated parcels. Your personal information, such as your name and home address, can be severely compromised, potentially leading to serious data breaches and infringements. They also have a detrimental impact on online shopping experiences.

The deceptive nature of counterfeit reviews can lead to a decrease in customer trust toward online marketplaces.

Impact on online shopping experience

The presence of fake reviews and inflated product rankings has a profound impact on consumer behavior. As consumers, we rely heavily on product reviews and ratings to make purchasing decisions. False positive reviews can trick consumers into buying low-quality products.

The possibility of receiving low-quality or even unsafe products is one of the reasons why brushing scams dangerous are a growing concern.

Threats to personal information

Identity theft and personal information threat

The threats to personal information posed by brushing scams should not be ignored, and it’s crucial to stop brushing scams. These scams can expose your personal information to scammers who may exploit it for unlawful activities, such as identity theft and financial fraud.

The exposure of your personal information through fraud report a data breach can have serious long-term consequences, including being targeted for other scams and illicit activities.

Recognising the Signs of a Brushing Scam

Recognizing signs of brushing scams

Knowledge is power, and knowing what to look out for can be your best defense against brushing scams. The most obvious sign of a brushing scam is receiving an unexpected package or unsolicited packages that you did not order. Frequently, these packages include low-cost items like:

  • headphones

  • screen protectors

  • candles

  • bluetooth speakers

Buyers enjoy the variety and value they offer at the online store.

Another red flag is finding a fake review that has been falsely written under your full name and address.

Taking Action: How to Respond to a Brushing Scam

If you find yourself a victim of a brushing scam, don’t panic. The first step is to report the incident to the e-commerce platform. They will conduct an investigation of commit fraud and may initiate actions against the scammers.

It is also important to reach out to the relevant authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission, and consider notifying local authorities for further assistance.

Reporting to e-commerce platforms

In reporting a brushing scam to an e-commerce platform, be sure to give a detailed account of the incident. Such sensitive information aids their comprehensive investigation. Major e-commerce platforms such as Amazon have established procedures to address brushing scams and protect their customers. They may suspend or revoke the selling privileges of the perpetrators, withhold payments, and even collaborate with law enforcement authorities.

Contacting authorities

In addition to reporting the scam to the e-commerce platform, reaching out to the appropriate authorities is also of paramount importance. Local police, Action Fraud (UK) or regional authorities can provide assistance by conducting investigations and offering advice on reporting the scam to relevant regulatory bodies.

Safeguarding Your Online Presence: Preventative Measures Against Brushing Scams

While being prepared to respond to a brushing scam is vital, proactive prevention is the best defense. You can implement several strategies to secure your online presence against such scams. These include strengthening your account passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and regularly monitoring your financial accounts for suspicious activity.

Strengthening account passwords

Strengthening account passwords for online security

Initiating the protection of your online presence begins with creating robust, unique passwords for your online accounts. A robust password should have:

  • A minimum length of 12 characters

  • A combination of upper and lower case letters

  • Numbers

  • Symbols

It is also advisable to change your password every three months.

Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA)

Implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) serves as another efficient method for bolstering the security of your online accounts. It requires you to provide two forms of identification, such as a password and a unique code sent to your mobile device.

This additional layer of security can deter scammers from gaining access to your bank accounts again.

Monitoring financial accounts

Finally, maintaining a regular check on your financial accounts proves beneficial for identifying brushing scams. Watch out for any unauthorised transactions or indications that your personal information may have been used fraudulently. If you spot any suspicious transactions, promptly notify your financial institution and consider issuing new cards and account numbers.


In conclusion, brushing scams are a deceptive practice that involves sending unsolicited packages to boost seller ratings and create fake reviews. These scams pose risks to personal information and negatively impact the online shopping experience. Knowing how to recognise the signs of a brushing scam, how to respond if you fall victim to one, and how to safeguard your online presence can go a long way in protecting yourself from these scams.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do brushing scams work?

Brushing scams involve sellers sending unsolicited packages to people, using their information to write fake reviews in order to receive merchandise and to boost their sales. It’s a fraudulent activity aimed at generating fake positive reviews.

How do you stop brushing scams?

To stop brushing scams, refrain from paying for unsolicited merchandise, return it to the sender, and closely monitor your accounts for your credit report any suspicious activity. If you receive unsolicited items, it’s important to take action and protect yourself.

Why is it called brushing?

It is called brushing because it refers to creating fake orders or reviews to boost sellers’ reputation on e-commerce platforms, similar to the concept of “brushing up” sales numbers.

What do I do if I receive a package that I didn’t order?

You are entitled to treat unsolicited goods as an unconditional gift and are not required to keep them or pay for them. Any attempt to demand payment is unlawful.

How can I recognise a brushing scam?

If you receive unsolicited packages or find fake product reviews under your name, you may be the target of a brushing scam. Be cautious and report any scam packages or suspicious activity.

What is order brushing?

Order brushing is a technique used in e-commerce where a seller creates fake orders to inflate their sales numbers and generate positive reviews.

Informative External Websites

  1. Action
    • The UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, providing information and advice about various scams, including brushing scams.
  2. Citizens
    • Offers guidance on consumer rights and what to do if you’re a victim of scams.
  3. Which?
    • Provides consumer advice, including articles and resources on online shopping scams and how to protect yourself.
  4. The UK Government’s
    • Official government advice on reporting phishing and suspicious emails, including those related to scams.
  5. Trading
    • Offers consumer protection information and can assist with issues related to unfair trading and scams.
  6. Money Advice
    • Provides advice on financial matters and dealing with fraud and scams.
  7. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
    • Information on financial scams and advice on how to avoid them.
  8. Royal
    • As brushing scams often involve unsolicited parcels, Royal Mail’s advice on handling unexpected deliveries can be relevant.
  9. Consumer Rights
    • Another section of Which? focusing specifically on consumer rights and legal advice regarding scams.
  10. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)
    • Offers guidance on how to stay secure online, including protecting against cyber scams and fraud.

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With over three decades of experience in the heart of London’s financial sector, I have dedicated my career to the pursuit of robust cybersecurity practices and IT leadership. As a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Chief Information Security Officer (C|CISO), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI), I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table.

My journey in the field of cybersecurity has not only been about personal growth but also about sharing my insights with others. As an international speaker, I have had the privilege of addressing audiences worldwide, discussing the importance of cybersecurity in today’s digital age. My passion for knowledge sharing extends to my work as an author and blogger, where I delve into the complexities of cybersecurity, offering practical advice and thought leadership.

In my role as a CISO and Head of IT, I have overseen the development and implementation of comprehensive information security and IT strategies. My focus has always been on creating resilient systems capable of withstanding the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

My Master’s degree in Cybersecurity has provided a solid academic foundation, which, when combined with my practical experience, allows me to approach cybersecurity from a holistic perspective.

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