It's a multi-billion dollar problem that's hitting your wallet, even if you haven't realized it yet: fraudulent returns. There are reports of them every day across the country.
"People will pull items off the shelves and return them as if they bought them. They'll get a gift card or in some cases cash," said Lt. Paul Shepard from the Fairview Park Police Department.
The National Retail Federation calls fraudulent returns a $9.1 billion problem, and it's a problem that's not going away anytime soon.
“That’s a huge impact and detrimental to the company’s bottom line, which ultimately gets passed onto the consumer in the form of higher shipping costs, or higher costs for goods,” said Troy Police Officer John Julian.
Troy is home to two of the area’s largest malls, and Troy police have officers dedicated full time to fighting fraud.
“Our detective bureau vigorously investigates every incident of retail fraud,” said Offc. Julian.
Now stores across the country are increasing security and changing their return policies.
“There are systems in place where you need to present your ID if you’re making a return without a receipt. And that gets held, recorded in a database,” said Offc. Julian.
Policies that have changed lately include Kohl's, Target, and Macy's. At one Kohl's in Ohio, they had proof of one guy working around those new policies by using a fake ID.
“This guy altered his ID so he could do multiple returns, more than the regular person,” said Lt. Shepard. “He altered the letters on his drivers’ license."
So, what can you do? Report it if you see it. Look around you, and if you notice something odd while you're in a store, say something.
“Find a sales associate. And say, I saw that guy take something," said Lt. Shepard.
Several big box stores have changed their return policies in the past 6 to 12 months, so you may want to check with the retailer when you make a purchase so you understand the rules.