If you’ve ever received a parcel from a shopping platform that you didn’t order, you may have been hit by a “brushing” scam. Here’s how it works and what to do if it happens to you.

How it works

Online sellers may send you an unsolicited package (such as a packet of seeds or other cheap, light items to mail) and then write a fake positive review in your name for their product online. They do this so you appear to be a verified customer and the positive review looks legitimate.

What to do if it happens to you

  1. Consider changing your passwords for any online retail sites. While you may not have been charged for the item, changing your passwords is a good way to ensure that the scammers aren’t accessing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers.
  2. Check your bank statements.
  3. If you receive seeds, do not plant them. The seeds could be from invasive plants or carry plant pests, which can be harmful when introduced into Canada.
  4. Report the scam to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Do I have to pay for unsolicited goods or services?

By law, you have no obligation to pay for unsolicited goods or services. Remember, there are exceptions to this rule, such as if you had an ongoing contract with the supplier (the company) or if you accepted (in writing) your intention to accept the good or service.

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About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.