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Consumer Updates

Return fraud causing retailers to tighten return policies

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Better Business Bureau
December 27, 2011 | 2,321 views | Post a comment

Understand a seller’s policies to avoid a stressful return

AUSTIN, Texas -- As return fraud continues to be a concern for the retail industry, many retailers are tightening their policies to combat the growing crime. Better Business Bureau recommends consumers fully understand these policies to avoid unnecessary stress.

Return fraud is the act of somehow defrauding a retail establishment via the return process. Three common methods of return fraud are purchasing merchandise for short-term use and then returning the item, returning stolen merchandise, and using reused, stolen or falsified receipts to return merchandise for a profit.

To crack down on this type of crime, many retailers are adopting stricter return policies, such as requiring receipts and making customers show identification when returning items. Some businesses only allow in-store credit for returns.

To put you in the best position for a happy return or exchange, BBB offers this advice:

· Know and understand the seller’s return policy. Most return policies will be listed on a company’s website or on the back of the receipt. Make sure to fully understand what’s required for a return or exchange, and if you have questions, call the store directly and ask about your specific situation.

· Keep original packaging. Some stores may require products be returned in original purchase condition, unused or un-opened.

· Bring identification and credit cards. Some retailers will ask for identification when making a return, as well as the credit card used to purchase the item.

· Don’t expect cash back. If you don’t have the original receipt for the item you’re returning, chances are you will only receive store credit or be allowed to exchange the item. Even with a gift receipt, many stores will only offer store credit.

· Read the warranty first. If a gift you received is damaged or defective, read the warranty. In some cases, warranties exempt retail stores from product liability and require consumers to mail the product directly to the manufacturer in order to receive monetary refunds, credit or product replacement.

· Don’t delay. In almost every case, a store will require an item be returned within a specific time frame. If you wait too long, you may miss your chance at returning the item.

To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit

About Better Business Bureau:
BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.

Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.

Contact BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin at (512) 445-4748.
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