The packages seem to come from nowhere.
Or perhaps, you think, it was only sent by mistake — a wrong address.
But if you've received a mystery Amazon package that you did not order, chances are it may be part of a "brushing" scam, says the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Across Canada, people are starting to receive surprise packages on their doorsteps from the distribution giant, with no idea who ordered the item. There is no return address except that of Amazon, according to the BBB.
The Better Business Bureau focuses on marketplace trust, and operates a scam tracker, based on reports of possible scams.
When it comes to the mystery packages, people have received everything from a humidifier, a hand warmer, a flashlight and a Bluetooth speaker to a computer vacuum cleaner.
How it works
Shawna-Kay Thomas, external communications specialist with the BBB for southern Alberta, told CBC's Calgary Eyeopener that it's a review boosting tactic.
Often a foreign third party seller will use people's addresses and Amazon information to send the packages.
Once the scammers buy the package through someone else's account, they then leave glowing reviews for the products from the hacked account, making the scammers' products look more legit.
"They do make a sum from it … we know that before people buy most things these days, they look at the reviews and the reviews influence their purchasing decision," Thomas said.
You don't necessarily get charged for the products, and technically, you can keep the mysterious package under Alberta laws, Thomas says.
The Consumer Protection Act says companies cannot require you to pay for unordered goods or services unless you agree in writing to pay. So, if you don't agree, you don't pay.
But there is a worrisome downside to being the receiver of these packages, Thomas says.
For one, it means someone has access to your Amazon account — along with personal information held in it, like linked credit cards.
"They could be using your credit card to purchase these products and send them to you. So you want to be monitoring your statement carefully," Thomas said.
She says to contact Amazon for any strange deliveries that you did not order, but be careful for fake customer service numbers that are sometimes bumped to the top of online search results by paid ads from scammers.
Thomas says people should monitor their Amazon accounts for unauthorized purchases and to change their passwords, too.
While the scam is becoming more rampant across North America, Thomas says the BBB hasn't had any official reports yet in southern Alberta or Calgary.
However, she says if there are cases, she urges people to report them so that the bureau can better track the scope of the scam.
Hail damage scams in Calgary, Thomas says
There's other fraudulent activity on the radar for Calgary. Thomas warns about scammers who in particular might be targeting those affected by the June 13 hailstorm that severely damaged property in the city's northeast communities.
"We're warning people to be on the lookout for contractors — as we call them storm chasers, fly-by-night contractors — who come in. They don't have the expertise, they don't have the proper licensing and they're giving you on-the-spot offers" Thomas said.
She said the offers are often very attractive.
Before agreeing to any terms or paying any money, Thomas says to make sure to verify the companies, such as checking their licences and their reviews, along with getting references from people who have had work done by them before.
"We know that we have contractors who are going into these areas who are not registered," Thomas said.
"So make sure you're doing your check before you engage."
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.