Whether you are a Prime member or just a frequent shopper at the Amazon Marketplace, you may just be the next victim of the “brushing scam.” What kind of scam is it this time? Who is involved in this scam? And, how could it possibly impact me?
Let’s start off by saying, Amazon reported nearly 150 million Prime members as of April 2018. Two years later, these numbers are increased significantly. The fact you are reading this article, it is likely you are a Prime member. Even if you only purchased from Amazon one time, you are still at risk of becoming victimized by these scam artists.
What Is The “Brushing” Scam?
It isn’t clear why this particular scam has been deemed “brushing.” Nothing about it is relevant to a brush, comb, or any other grooming accessory for that matter (joke). Regardless, this is the new “brushing” scam. And, you could be the next target.
How Does The “Brushing” Scam Work?
The scam artists in the “brushing” scam have been determined to be no other than Amazon’s third-party sellers. According to the BBB, the sellers are most likely based internationally. When you purchase items from a third-party seller on the Amazon Marketplace, your information – physical address, phone number, and name – is accessible to the seller. This is necessary for order processing and shipping.
Amazon;s third-party sellers do not have your account or bank information. They only have your name, address, and phone number, which is only permitted to be utilized for the above purposes. Keeping this in mind, the brushing scam artists somehow obtained your Amazon account information. The company wants you to believe that it had nothing to do with a website security breach. But, how else would the scam artists obtain this information?
The scam artists utilize Amazon account holder information to place orders from their own stores. Once the orders are processed, a shipping label is created with your name and address. Within two to three days, the order will arrive right on your doorstep.
What Is In It For The Third-Party Amazon Seller?
There are risks involved in this type of scam. The risks are not only for the Amazon account holder but also for the third-party seller. First, your account has been breached somewhere along the line. Second, the third-party seller is at risk of having his/her account suspended and even worse jail time. Since the scam artist probably lives in a foreign country, he will most likely get off Scot -free.
The first thing that may come to mind when you find all of these wonderful packages on your doorstep is where they came from. After you see the massive Amazon logo on the boxes, you will know. If you weren’t expecting a shipment from Amazon, you need to contact the company immediately. Tell the representative that you may have been a victim of the brushing scam.
Once the order is in your hands, the scam artist will then write a review of each product utilizing the name on your account.
“Porch Pirate” Potential
Some of these scam artists are taking it to the next step. This scam has been deemed “porch pirate.” How this works is the same way as the brushing scam but it goes a step further. As soon as your shipment arrives at your doorstep, someone is there to retrieve it. If you have a security system, you may just be able to catch this porch pirate in action. So, you can utilize the footage or image to file a police report with your local law enforcement agency.
If you do not have a security system and you are not expecting a shipment from Amazon, you will have no idea you were victimized. It may be another month before you discover the unexpected purchase on your credit card or bank account.
All victims of the brushing scam have the right to keep their “unordered” purchases. The Federal Trade Commission gives American consumers legal rights to keep all unordered merchandise in their possession.
After you contact Amazon, you should immediately change your Amazon password. If you utilize this password for other personal accounts, you should change those as well.
It is unclear how the brushing scam artists accessed the impacted accounts. In December 2019, it was reported that hundreds if not thousands of Amazon UK customers had their accounts hacked. Some of the victims took to Twitter, saying they were disappointed in Amazon’s reaction to the hack.
One Twitter member posted “FUMING with @AmazonUK having spent hours trying to get my hacked account sorted over the past week – STILL NO REPLY OR RESOLUTION. Very poor show and concern with the lack of interest shown!?
Amazon is aware of the brushing hack but is yet to take action. The company warns its customers of the risks and how to protect themselves. But, this is about as far as the company has gone.
Was this an inside job or did the hackers find a vulnerability or two in Amazon’s website? We will probably never know. Since Amazon is one of the biggest employers in the United States and its stock is nearly $3,000 per share, politicians all across the country are staying out of this one.