Hundreds of Allendale residents recently joined tens of thousands of fellow Americans nationwide in reporting an item delivered through Amazon that they didn't order – in this instance, an iPhone screen protector.
“Tossed it in the trash,” wrote one of the recipients. “Sketchy.”
“I got one to my house and to my office. Neither for phones I have,” another added.
“Have been getting them too. Not once, but 3 times already,” another said. “So weird.”
Should they be worried?
Probably not, experts say.
A flood of deliveries of an unordered item is usually part of a scam known as “brushing,” in which vendors – usually from overseas – either create bogus accounts or pay someone to buy and ship items to unsuspecting recipients.
Most people, like the friendly folks in Allendale, will look sideways at the “gift.”
Yet others may feel compelled to write a positive review – which is precisely where the “seller” gets an ROI.
"The ultimate motivation is to get a good review for the product on Amazon,” retail security expert Brian Kilcourse said. “And the more positive reviews you get, the more likely you're going to get sales of that product."
Some sellers even post fake reviews using the recipients’ names.
“So even if you do not have an account at Amazon, you may find yourself having posted a review of something you never bought, nor actually reviewed,” one Allendale resident said.
The upside? You can keep it the $5 doohickey, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
“I’ve used mine - it’s decent,” an Allendale recipient said.
The danger, of course, lies not in the fact that there could be a nefarious microchip embedded in the 0.2mm sliver of safety glass -- there isn't one.
The concern is in the possibility that someone may have not only your name and mailing address but other personal information. Experts say that’s possible but not likely.
Dozens of Allendale residents said they’ve contacted Amazon, which now lists the Kroma Premium Tempered Glass Screen Protector as “unavailable.”
“It seems like a very expensive marketing tool for an inexpensive product from a no-name company,” one wrote.
“I got one a few months ago,” another added. “Customer service advised us to just toss it.
One recipient said Amazon promised to investigate.
Others said the person they spoke with didn’t seem concerned.
One rep “said it was just a mistake and totally acted like it wasn't a big deal when I asked if someone had our info,” a resident wrote.
“If an entire town and then some gets the same package from a company pretending to be Amazon you would think they would take this a bit more seriously,” another added.
Some found humor in it all.
One resident was “really bummed cause I still have not rec’d one….I keep wistfully watching that…Amazon truck passing by my house.”
“High-five to the first person who lists them for sale in [the] Allendale Garage Sale group,” another wrote.
“Trashed it,” a neighbor responded. “Bad juju.”
Then there’s the resident who actually ordered a 3-pack of screen protectors.
“Amazon says they are lost,” he wrote.
Amazon tells recipients they can just toss the items and forget it. Or go here: Amazon.com Returns
NOTE: In either case, recipients are asked to notify Amazon whenever something like this happens.
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