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Stores Watching for Gift Return Fraud

Some major retailers are changing their return policy, while others are keeping a closer eye on returns.
Shoppers are once again headed to the stores and many are taking back unwanted gifts to receive refunds. Stores are watching carefully for any signs of potential fraud.

They call Christmas the 'Season of Giving'. But at stores such as Target, it's the season of returning. Some stores are taking precautions to make sure this doesn't become the season of stealing.

"Sometimes, you wait longer to return gifts than you do to buy them," says Terra Knight of Whitesville.

We wait all Christmas season for the gifts we want only to send some back to the island of misfit gifts. Some stores have a 'no questions asked' policy on returns while others want a reason why the item is being brought back.

"Usually a receipt," Knight says. "Your ID, always have to show your ID if you don't have your receipt. Some things, depends on if you've got it out of the package or not, they won't take it back."

And for stores, they need to know shoppers didn't steal them.

"When you purchase, let's say an iPad, there's a serial number that's linked to that, so that, if there's something wrong with that iPad, and you want to return it, the serial numbers have to match the receipt," says Bob Irizarri, a manager at Target.

The National Retail Federation says stores could lose more than $3 billion this year to return fraud. That's why some, like Best Buy, cut their return period by half. Others are adding new restrictions like restocking fees on bigger items. Target officials say they're policy hasn't changed a lot, but they're watching for unwanted returns to stop undeserved refunds.

"We train our team to, when they're returning a game system, the controllers are in it, the cables are in it, the instructions are in it," says Irizarri.

Some online stores are also changing policies. Amazon.com is now requiring shoppers returning jewelry to have documentation of purchase.
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