Amazon Brushing Scams: How That Unordered Package Got to You

Got a package from Amazon that you didn’t order? It could be part of an Amazon brushing scam. Here’s what you need to know.
We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Did you receive a mysterious Amazon package that you didn’t order? It could be part of a brushing scam. Brushing scams aim to generate fake positive reviews. You get an unordered package from Amazon, usually with no return address. The scammers then write a fake review using your information to make it appear like you’re a verified buyer and boost their sales. 

If all this still seems like nothing to be concerned about, consider all the repercussions of a stranger having your personal information. Protecting your identity is crucial, and using the best identity theft protection can be worth it.

Keep reading to learn how Amazon brushing scams work and what you can do to prevent them.

In this article
What is a brushing scam?
Why are brushing scams dangerous?
Can you keep items sent to you in a brushing scam?
How to stop brushing scams from Amazon
Brushing scam FAQs
Bottom line

What is a brushing scam?

Brushing scams happen when unethical businesses find your name and address online and use the information to send you their product. The unordered package arrives right at your door and probably doesn’t have a return address included — brushing scam packages are often sent from China. Wherever it’s from, you won’t know who sent it or why.

These packages can be anything from flower seeds to Bluetooth speakers. It seems like a ton of effort and cost on the part of the business, but the aim is to get you to leave an online review that boosts the company’s sales and profits. Some unethical companies even post a phony review of their product and make it look like you wrote it.

By using brushing scams, unscrupulous businesses can fraudulently increase their revenue. More “sales” can also push the retailer’s product listing to the top of the marketplace search results.

Even though the company posts fake reviews, most shoppers can’t tell the difference. And when potential customers see a product with glowing reviews and plenty of sales, it may convince them to purchase the item.

Why are brushing scams dangerous?

If getting free stuff seems like a harmless surprise, you may want to think about how a random company got your name and mailing address.

Sometimes this happens when businesses get your personal data from marketing companies, online databases like and LexisNexis, or even social media.

They could also get your info from a data breach, and that could include other sensitive information like your bank account info, account passwords, or Social Security number. Sensitive data and account information like this can also be for sale on the dark web, where bad actors can buy it and use it for anything from brushing schemes to credit card fraud.

What seems like a simple gift could cost you a lot of headaches if you don’t have identity theft protection. If you need peace of mind, you can opt for one of the following identity theft protection programs:

  • LifeLock: By offering up to $3 million in identity theft insurance, LifeLock can help prevent someone from stealing your identity and lend a helping hand if it ever does happen to you. Beyond standard identity monitoring and credit services, it also offers unique features like home title monitoring, credit file detection for children, bank account takeover alerts, and more.  
    Get LifeLock | Read Our LifeLock Review
  • Bitdefender: We recommend pairing antivirus protection with identity protection, and Bitdefender has you covered with both. Bitdefender’s identity theft protection service provides dark web monitoring and alerts about suspicious activity. 
    Get Bitdefender | Read Our Bitdefender Review
  • Identity Guard: Identity Guard is for the tech-savvy, as it uses the power of AI for identity theft detection. It's also an affordable choice, offering three different tiers of protection for individuals and for families, so you can find suitable coverage for you.
    Get Identity Guard | Read Our Identity Guard Review

Featured identity theft protection services


Individual monthly price Starts at $7.50/mo (billed annually) for first year Starts at $9.00/mo (billed annually) Starts at $14.99/mo
Family monthly price Starts at $18.49/mo (billed annually) for first year Starts at $25.00/mo (billed annually)


ID theft insurance Up to $3 million Up to $1 million per adult Up to $2 million
Credit monitoring
3-bureau credit reports
Details Get LifeLock
Read Our LifeLock Review
Get Aura
Read Our Aura Review
Get Omniwatch
Read Our Omniwatch Review

Scammers can drain your bank accounts, sell your data to other unscrupulous businesses, and run up charges on your credit cards. Some scammers use your info to create false identities so they can take out a loan or open a fake account. Untangling all the damage can take lots of time and cause tons of frustration on your end.

Found your address, phone number, or other info online? Check out our guide on how to remove your data from the internet.

Can you keep items sent to you in a brushing scam?

The only good news in this scenario is that you can keep the items sent to you — and you don’t have to pay a dime.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the law prohibits people from sending packages you didn’t order and then charging you for them. That means if you’re the target of a brushing scam, you can keep the goods whether they’re cheap or expensive. You also don’t need to track down a return address and pay to send the package back.

Some people think if they open it, they must then pay for the item, but federal laws are in place to protect you from being charged. You should never pay for anything you didn’t order.

How to stop brushing scams from Amazon

If you’re targeted by an Amazon brushing scam or are concerned it could happen to you, there are steps you can take to prevent it.

Don’t ignore a brushing scam even if you throw away the box without opening it. If a company uses your address without your permission and you suspect any fraudulent activity, you’ll want to prevent it from going further. Taking some simple yet effective steps can ensure you stay protected against brushing scams.

1. Check your credit card bill and bank statements

Most of us think our credit cards are safe by default. We expect our banks to keep us secure, but there are lots of scammers looking for an edge to gain access to your finances.

You should monitor your credit card and bank statements and always check your charges for any suspicious activity. If you see something that doesn’t add up, contact your bank immediately.

2. Change your passwords and add 2FA

If you suspect someone gained access to your data, your first step is to change your password.

To create a good password, use a combination of letters, characters, and numbers. Try to use something that others won’t guess. That means not using your pet’s name or your favorite color.

Adding two-factor authentication (2FA) gives you another layer of security. Also called multi-factor authentication, this requires you to complete two steps to prove your identity when accessing online accounts.

  • If you want an extra layer of security, try a password manager. NordPass is a secure password manager that bypasses two-factor authentication for multi-factor authentication and biometric verification. This password manager includes password sharing, password generator, auto-fill, password health report, digital legacy, and notably above-average encryption, XChaCha20.

    Get NordPass | Read Our NordPass Review

Editorial Rating
Learn More
On NordPass's website
Password Manager
60% off + 3 months free
  • Strong encryption and security
  • User-friendly interface

What is passwordless authentication?

You may see some companies switching to passwordless logins. This means you use an alternative method of authentication to prove your identity, such as biometrics or a magic link. Learn more in our passwordless authentication guide.

3. Report brushing scams

If you’ve received a mysterious package and suspect a brushing scam, you should report it to the FTC and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

If the package comes from Amazon, you can contact Amazon customer service to let them know. You’ll need the order ID, the number of unordered packages received, and a photo of the shipping label.

If the package came from a different e-commerce retailer, you should contact its customer support center and be ready to provide information about the box that was sent to you. This information helps Amazon and other marketplaces investigate the issues.

4. Install antivirus software

Installing antivirus software is one of the best ways to keep your data safe. The software protects your device from malware and scammers.

You can usually tailor antivirus programs to scan and protect any device. Some come with additional features like password managers that can help guard your personal information by securely storing your login credentials for online accounts.

No Fuss, Real-Time Online and Mobile Protection
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On TotalAV's website
Antivirus Software
First year discount on paid plans
  • Real-time protection from viruses, malware, and online threats
  • Blocks tracking cookies and ads, proactively monitors for data breaches, and option to schedule smart scans
  • 100% compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS operating systems on up to 3 devices
  • Lacks firewall protection

Brushing scam FAQs


Why is it called a brushing scam?

It’s called a brushing scam because it comes from a translation of the Chinese word for cleaning. In the U.S., money laundering is sometimes referred to as cleaning. Brushing means the fraudulent transaction was made to look clean.


Does Amazon send free gifts?

Amazon typically doesn’t send free gifts, so if you receive one, you should check with friends and family first, then contact Amazon customer service. Third-party sellers aren’t allowed to send you unsolicited packages through Amazon.


What happens if I get an Amazon package by mistake?

If you receive an Amazon package by mistake, you should first confirm it wasn’t sent to you by someone else. If it was delivered to you by mistake, you should contact Amazon customer service to report the accident. Check your Amazon account for suspicious activity or unauthorized transactions to ensure you weren't hacked. 

Bottom line

A brushing scam is concerning because, while you may get a free product, unscrupulous companies use your personal info to create fake positive reviews in your name.

It’s important to keep your information secure and make it harder for these companies to include you in their online schemes. You can avoid brushing scams and other types of fraud by monitoring your financial accounts, creating strong passwords, and installing the best antivirus software.

Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Aura Identity Theft's website
Identity Protection
Aura Identity Theft
Up to 68% off Family Annual Plans
  • Excellent identity theft protection service
  • Includes a password manager and VPN
  • Robust tools for children’s security

Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer specializing in technology, with three years of experience. With a B.S. in Computer Science and a background as a technical analyst and security specialist, she covers a range of topics like data security and parental control software.