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Would you wear a free mask from China that you didn't order?

Free masks are showing up from China. Before you put them on, be aware you're likely the target of what's called a "brushing scam."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Americans, and most of the world, for that matter, are still in a mask-wearing environment, and scammers are paying attention. 

Almost every store requires masks on when going in the door, as do restaurants. It's an added expensive if you have to buy them, so when they show up for free in the mail, it might seem like a win. Not so fast.

“It’s a brushing scam” said Tom Bartholomy of the Charlotte Better Business Bureau.

“Brushing scams” are when companies send you free products hoping you’ll write a review. It’s an easy way for them to boost and boast about their product. In this case, disposable face masks are showing up from China.

Bartholomy received these masks, as well. He knew right away it was a problem. When asked how he knew the mask was from China, Bartholomy didn't hesitate. 

"It was in a plain brown envelope and said it came from China, and some of the writing on the outside was even in Chinese," Bartholomy said.

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It’s likely another brushing scan, where companies send you products for free that you didn’t order, sometimes from China, so they can verify a delivery and then write their own reviews.

So are these masks even safe? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said last May that based on OSHA testing, some N95 masks made in China, which are supposed to be higher end, didn’t meet filtration standards. In October the orders were revised by the FDA to allow masks from China to be used for emergency use. 

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“I don’t know where it came from, but I know what the purpose was," Bartholomy said. "But I am not going to risk putting it on."

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