WASHINGTON D.C. — Those mysterious seeds from China have been in the headlines, but the Federal Trade Commission is also hearing about other stuff that people are receiving that looks connected to the seed mystery.
As such, the FTC has provided some tips in a blog post about the case for consumers.
For starters, the FTC and USDA strongly urges consumers to not plant the mystery seeds.
In fact, officials have outlined what to do if you receive a mysterious package.
Did you order something and get seeds or other junk instead? If that’s you, dispute the charges for the thing you didn’t get.
“We hear that some sellers might be sending stuff so they can show payment companies the tracking numbers to prove they delivered something to you,” said Jennifer Leach, Associate Director of the FTC Division of Consumer and Business Education. “So: tell the payment service you used (PayPal, for example), and your credit or debit card company right away that you got seeds, never got anything, or got something other than what you ordered. If the seller tries to use a tracking number to prove it delivered, point out anything to show that it’s not credible — maybe a weight listed that’s different from the package you got, or a different delivery address.”
Perhaps you have heard about a supposed brushing scam related to the seeds.
“In this one, somebody sends you stuff, unordered, because it lets them give themselves a great review in your name,” said Leach. “Annoying, but whatever, right? Nope. More than annoying. It could mean that the scammers have created an account in your name, or taken over your account, on online retail sites. Or even created new accounts (maybe lots of them) in other names tied to your address. Letting them post lots of seemingly-real reviews. So keep an eye on your online shopping accounts. If you spot activity that isn’t yours, report it to the site right away, and think about changing your password for that site.”
If you received seeds or anything else in the mail you didn’t order, you don’t have to pay for it, advised Leach, and never have to return unordered merchandise.
If you spot a scam, tell the FTC: ftc.gov/complaint.