There are so many scams out there, you never know what is a scam or isn't a scam. With technology the way it is today, you wouldn't think people would still be getting scammed by the mail. But it happens all the time and you may not even know it.

Let me tell you how I found out about "Brushing."  Last week I received two identical small packages in the mail. I opened up the first one and it was empty. The first thing I thought was, did someone send me anthrax? The next thing I wondered was if I had opened something with a tracking device. Since package one was so confusing I didn't open package two.

When I got to work that morning, I asked around to see if this had ever happened to anyone, and they all said no. So I did what we all do and turned to Google for the answer. Apparently, when you receive an empty package in the mail, you could be a victim of brushing.

What is "Brushing?"

According to the U.S. Postal Inspection: 

A person receives packages or parcels containing various sorts of items which were not ordered or requested by the recipient. While the package may be addressed to the recipient, there is not a return address, or the return address could be that of a retailer. The sender of the item(s) is usually an international, third-party seller who has found the recipient’s address online. The intention is to give the impression that the recipient is a verified buyer who has written positive online reviews of the merchandise, meaning: they write a fake review in your name. These fake reviews help to fraudulently boost or inflate the products’ ratings and sales numbers, which they hope results in an increase of actual sales in the long-run. Since the merchandise is usually cheap and low-cost to ship, the scammers perceive this as a profitable pay-off. 

Why is this bad?

The reason this is bad is because they could be using your address to steal your identity. If you do not return the package, then the sender may take it as confirmation that this is your name and address and can use it to steal your identity. The best thing to do is to put the package back in the mail and mark, return to sender.

After learning this, I was advised to keep a watch on my online, banking, credit cards, and anything else that has to do with my credit.

So beware, even if you think you just magically got some free stuff or it's just an empty package, you could be being set up for something a lot more dangerous.

Gwendolyn McCown