Retail fraud on the rise, shoppers hitting stores to return holiday gifts

Published: Dec. 27, 2017 at 4:09 PM CST
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Return fraud is on the rise, according to a new report. And with it being just two days after Christmas, a lot of you are probably returning some Christmas gifts. But stores are fighting back and thinking of new ways to stop customers from scamming them.

'Tis the season for gift returns.

"I'm returning a sweatshirt, it was too small. I might exchange it for something new," says Shopper, Brody Hell.

But as you're heading to the mall to return your presents, retailers are on the lookout for fraudulent returns. This is when a shopper steals merchandise and then tries to return it for a gift card or money. A new survey from the National Retail Federation finds, these frauds could cost companies as much as $15 billion this year.

But one new store in the mall says they haven't had any problems with that. And they say, it's because they try hard to get to know their customers.

"We have quite a few regulars already for being open. If they come in and we've talked to them before, we basically have a respected golden rule that we know you. We have a good read on you, so you're not going to lie about having that discount off," says Legacy Toys Assistant Manager, Tanya Sather.

Tanya Sather is an Assistant Manager at Legacy Toys. She says, if you're looking to return an item to the store, you have 30 days and it must be in resalable condition. It’s also required to have a receipt.

But Sather says, they haven't had to worry too much about handling returns.

"We haven't seen a lot of returns since we opened," says Sather.

But that's not the case for all stores. In fact, around 13% of all purchases will end up back on store shelves. And that's why retailers are being more cautious when it comes to returns. But if you don't have a receipt or don't know where it came from, experts say to resell the items on sites like Ebay.

Return frauds can also happen if you buy an item on sale, and then try to return it for the original full price. In the past year, around 30% of retailers have altered their return policies due to these frauds.

Some stores are closing the gap when you can make a return, or requiring the original packaging of the item to still be intact.