As consumers, we make purchases all the time. Sometimes it’s for small daily needs things and other times we buy big ticket items we’ve had our eye on for a while. But on occasion, you may have a change of heart and decide you no longer want the item.

Whether you purchased an item on a whim and now have buyer’s remorse or you received the unwanted item as a gift, returning merchandise is commonplace. But if you’re a serial purchaser and returner, you could be unknowingly contributing to the growing problem of retail fraud.

What is retail fraud?

Retail fraud occurs when someone abuses a business’s return process to gain money on merchandise. While handling returns and issuing refunds is just a normal part of doing business, a high volume of returns poses financial risk and potential losses for locally owned small businesses and big-box retailers alike. Common forms of return fraud include:

  • Bringing back used items, such as worn clothing, and requesting a full refund
  • Returning stolen merchandise for cash
  • Using an altered receipt to request a higher refund

Fraudulent returns cut into business profits and result in higher losses. To combat fraudulent returns, stores are implementing and enforcing stringent return policies. Increased limitations include:

  • Shortening the window for returns
  • Requiring a customer to provide identification and contact information as part of the return process
  • Only issuing refunds in the form of the original payment type
  • Limiting refunds without a receipt to store credit only
  • Charging a restocking fee for each item being returned, even those in new condition

Unfortunately, these changes can negatively impact customer service and ease of returns for all patrons.

Changing your shopping habits

If you regularly purchase and return items, especially without a regular or gift receipt, the store could flag you for making excessive returns and deny your refund. Adding a few self-imposed purchasing restrictions to your shopping routine could help you limit unwanted purchases and save money.

If you’ve been charged with a shoplifting charge stemming from an alleged fraudulent return, you need legal help. Get in touch with Anthony Palumbo via email or by calling 908-643-6801 to arrange a free consultation.