Big day of holiday returns could prove costly for retailers

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By Michael Henrich

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.  (Dec. 26, 2014) -- Whether it's the wrong size, only the thought that counted or a host of any other reasons, the day after Christmas represents a day full of holiday shopping returns and exchanges.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is for gift returners to become familiar with a retailer's return policies before heading to the store.

Many, but not all, major retailers have extended the amount of time they allow shoppers to make holiday returns.

Others have adopted policies friendly to shoppers without receipts.  However, this last point can, and has, led to an increase in what's called return fraud, according to the National Retail Federation.

Retailers told the NRF in a recent survey that they expect to lose an estimated $3.8 billion to return fraud this holiday season alone.  That's a $400 million increase from last year's holiday shopping season.

"Return fraud has become an unfortunate trend in retail thanks to thieves taking advantage of retailers’ return policies to benefit from the cash or store credit they don’t deserve," NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention Bob Moraca said in a recent release.

As a result, an increasing number of retailers require shoppers to produce identification if they're returning items without, and sometimes even with, a receipt.