Everyone loves getting packages in the mail. It's always fun when it arrives, unwrapping whatever it is you purchased and enjoying it. However, what if you received an item or items - such as a diamond ring or other merchandise - that you didn’t purchase?

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It could be a mistake, a surprise gift or it could be a scam.

Yes, receiving an unsolicited package in the mail could actually be a scam according to the United States Postal Inspection Service. It’s called a "brushing scam."

How Does a Brush Scam Work?

A person will receive a package that they did not order with their address on the package. The item usually appears to be something of value, like a ring. The recipient’s address will be listed on the package but there will be no return address or it will be a retailer’s address. The sender is usually an international, third-party seller.

The purpose of this is to make it seem like the recipient is a verified buyer who has written a positive review about the item, the USPIS says. The review is obviously a fake that the sender has written in the recipient's name. The sender's hope is to boost positive reviews thus causing sales to go up since the items are usually inexpensive and cheap to ship.

square grunge red scam stamp


I Got Free Stuff... How is That a Bad Thing?

The issue with getting these unsolicited items is that your personal information may have been compromised, and that is how the sender obtained your address to send the item.

If they have your address there is a good chance they may have other personal information that could lead to larger issues. One tactic that is used is sending merchandise to a victim's home and then coming to a victim's house to retrieve it. Also, personal information could be used in other criminal activities.

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If I receive an unsolicited package, what can I do? Here's what the USPIS recommends:

  • If there is a return address and you didn’t open, it can be returned
  • If you don’t want to keep, just disregard the item
  • If you like the item, you can keep it and not have to pay for it -  don’t pay for the item for any reason
  • Change all your passwords on any accounts
  • Watch your credit very carefully
  • If it’s an unknown substance, notify the authorities
  • Notify the retailer about the package

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