Don’t Plant Mystery Seeds You Didn’t Order
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The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been contacted by numerous people who have received the seeds, which are likely the product of an international internet scam known as “brushing.”
“According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), foreign, third-party sellers use your address and Amazon information to generate a fake sale and positive review to boost their product ratings,” said Phil Wilson, director of the Plant Industry Division. “Seeds are just one of the items used in this scam, however, you could receive other inexpensive items such as rubber bands, plastic toys, or empty bags.”
If you receive mystery seeds you didn’t order, please save the contents along with all shipping labels and contact the Plant Industry Division toll-free at 800-206-9333 or email at email@example.com.
Plant Industry staff will contact you to gather information and pick up the package. This type of international shipment of plant material is unlawful, and could be a source for plant disease, pests, or invasive plants.
The BBB recommends the following tips if one of these packets arrive in the mail:
- Check your personal information. The package may be a sign that your personal information has been compromised. Keep a close eye on your credit report, bank accounts, and credit card bills. Looking up your own name and address using a search engine can, in some cases, reveal how public your information has become.
- Do not open the seed packet and avoid opening outer packaging or mailing materials, if possible.
- Do not plant the seeds or discard them in trash that will be landfilled.
- Limit contact with the seed package until further guidance on handling, disposal, or collection is available from the USDA.
North Carolina residents are not in violation of any regulations if they received these shipments, but they are the key to identifying and stopping future shipments.