Retailers Cracking Down On Merchandise Return Fraud - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/27/04

Retailers Cracking Down On Merchandise Return Fraud

Though the holiday shopping season is over, gift and purchase returns are flooding stores everywhere. Although most merchandise returns are legitimate, many phony returns are costing stores billions.

It's called shrinkage and, nationwide, retailers lose about $16 Billion a year from return fraud - when customers try to return stolen merchandise for cash or repeatedly without a receipt.

We spoke to one store manager who says they're cracking down on these returns by tracking them. "If it's someone who's bringing something back that they haven't actually purchased, they're just grabbing something from the store," says JC Penney store manager, John Forcey. It's an occurrence that Forcey says happens especially around the holidays. "There's a lot of that that goes around sometimes," explains Forcey.

Forcey estimates 30% of customers coming into the store have returns, but how do they know which are legitimate? With a few strokes of system keys, JC Penney can track returns customers have made without receipts within the past year. "Our system's set up to where if they don't have a receipt that we do get their driver's license number and it'll return that information back if it's a customer that's been doing that sort of thing then we have them - the customer's information on file," says Forcey.

By using this data JC Penney can track each attempt made by the customer, preventing repeated fraudulent activity, but not everyone gets entered into the system. "If it's someone we're suspicious of, then we do get their driver's license information so we have that record on file. So if it continues to happen we can deter that from happening any further," explains Forcey.

For honest customers there's never a limited amount of returns you can make with receipts. "The best advice is to always try to keep your receipts and it always speeds up the total process on returns," says Forcey.

We also spoke to managers at Target and Wal-Mart who both say they use similar tracking systems.

Be Prepared for Holiday Returns
Some tips to make returning that gift a little easier.

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