People Are Receiving Free Amazon Packages—But There's a Catch

You get to keep the free stuff, but it could also be dangerous. Here's what you need to know about the latest scam. 

stack of amazon boxes on doorstep

Photo by Jorge Villalba/Getty Images

Photo by Jorge Villalba/Getty Images

f you’ve recently received an Amazon package at your front door that you didn't order, you may be the victim of a far-reaching scam. Surprise packages sound nice, but there are a few things you should know before celebrating. A scam called “brushing” involves sellers creating fake accounts and ordering their own merchandise to be sent to random addresses in an attempt to boost their reviews. Once delivered, the seller can write a legitimate-looking “verified purchase” review.

Although it sounds harmless (free stuff!), take note: If a scammer has gained access to your full name and address, they may have also gained access to other sensitive information. At best, it’s a nuisance. At worst, your information could be compromised. There’s also no telling what products could show up. While some Amazon users have reported mystery packages containing products they’ve purchased in the past, always exercise caution with packages you don’t remember ordering.

Amazon is investigating multiple reports of this issue. The source of the scamming could tie back to previous international orders. In two cases, one reported to WGNand another to CBS, the package receivers say they recently ordered a product from a seller in China.

Victims of the scam do not get charged for the products they receive, because the scammers are the ones doing the ordering. Once reported, Amazon is not requiring that the items be returned, allowing victims to keep or donate the products received. Still, it is important to report if this event happens to you. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, you should also change your password or even ask the post office to hold your packages.

This article originally appeared on Better Homes & Gardens.