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Brush off

Consumers warned about new scam

If you receive unsolicited merchandise, beware. It could be a scam.

The Postal Inspection Service wants to raise awareness of “brushing scams,” which occur when consumers receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts fake customer reviews online to boost sales.

These fake reviews help to fraudulently boost or inflate the products’ ratings and sales numbers, which the seller hopes will result in an increase of actual sales in the long run. Since the merchandise is usually cheap and doesn’t cost much to ship, the scammers perceive this as a profitable payoff.

In some instances, the seller will call the consumer and try to get him or her to pay for the merchandise. Under the law, however, consumers aren’t required to pay for unsolicited merchandise.

The Inspection Service’s website has more information about brushing scams, including a public service announcement and tips on avoiding becoming a victim.

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