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What You Need To Know About Bad Seeds & 'Brushing'

Connie Kuntz
Contact the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture if you receive unsolicited seeds.

It can be nice when a friend secretly leaves a bouquet of flowers on your doorstep on May Day, but what if you receive a package of unsolicited seeds in the mail? 

The Illinois Department of Agriculture says don’t plant them, don’t even open the package.

There are still a lot of unknowns about the seeds -- whether or not they  truly "bad" or are an invasive species remains to be seen. And unordered seeds may be part of a scam called “brushing.” That's when a company finds your address and delivers you an inexpensive, lightweight package only to use your information to write a fake positive Amazon review for their business. This illegal practice aims to bolster their reputation and boost future sales. 

If you receive unsolicited seeds, email the Department of Agriculture at agr.seeds@Illinois.gov and include the following:

  • your first and last name,
  • phone number, and
  • number of packages you received.

The Department of Agriculture asks that you keep your unopened seeds with their original packaging and labels, including mailing labels, "until further instruction is provided."