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Amazon ‘brushing’ scam arrives on Calgary doorsteps

BBB warns about package deliveries for items you never ordered
WATCH: The Better Business Bureau is warning about a scam that involves packages appearing on your doorstep even though they were never ordered. Tomasia DaSilva explains how this scam works and what’s in it for the sender.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people about a scam that has been making its way across North America and has now landed on Calgary doorsteps.

It involves a package delivered by Amazon — mysteriously and out of nowhere.

“The problem is you did not order this package,” the BBB’s Shawna-Kay Thomas said. “It does not have a return address, except that of Amazon.”

Thomas said the package usually comes from a third-party seller that has somehow gained access to your account.

Calgarian Shanaya Fischer almost fell victim to the scam. A few weeks ago she received four emails from Amazon for a total of four chairs, worth $200 each.

“At first I thought the emails themselves were scams,” Fischer told Global News Thursday. “So I went on to my Amazon account and I could see one chair in my cart so I cancelled the order.”

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Fischer then checked her credit card.

“I could see an $800 charge on my credit card for these chairs,” she said.

Read more: International student in Calgary loses life’s savings to scammers

Fischer reported the fraud to Amazon, who forwarded her to its fraud department. She eventually got her money back but is still worried about scammers having access to her personal information, including her home address.

“All of the chairs were getting shipped to my home address,” she added. “So for about a week I was kind of freaking out every time the doorbell rang.”

Although Fischer was billed for the items, officials warn that many times, victims will not be charged.

But Thomas said that doesn’t mean the sender won’t get something out of it. The scammers who have taken over the hacked accounts then leave glowing reviews for the products, making them look more legitimate.

“This is a big win for them,” Thomas said.

“If you get higher ratings people are more inclined to use your product. So for them it’s a big return.”

How to protect yourself

The BBB warned that once your account has been hacked, your information can be used for numerous crooked enterprises, especially if your financial information is stored on your account.

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To avoid this, Thomas suggested removing your credit card and other personal information from your account.

Something Fischer has already done and advises others to do as well.

“Don’t store your payment information on there. And I also am not storing my home address on there anymore, like my shipping address,” Fischer said.

If you believe your account has been hacked officials advised you should change your passwords immediately and check your credit report and bills for out of the ordinary payments.

Read more: Scammers target online job seekers during COVID-19 pandemic

What to do with the merchandise

The upside to this brushing scam — all of the products that are sent to your address are yours to keep.

“In Alberta, based on the Consumer Protection Act, you don’t have to return that package,” Thomas said. “Because you didn’t sign anything to say you’re going to pay for this, it was just sent to you.”

Fischer said she may do just that — if the chairs ever arrive.

“They were two baby highchairs and two dining chairs,” she said. “I have no use for baby highchairs so I think I might donate them to the shelter I work at right now. Maybe even the dining chairs as well.”

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The BBB said it has received a few complaints about this scam happening in the city. Anyone who experiences these scams is asked to report it immediately.