The National Retail Federation estimates $10.9 billion lost this year due to return fraud after the holidays, in a survey they conducted from over 60 retail companies.
The electronic payments industry has created numerous preventative measures to fight fraud, which is outlined in various best practices documents and the data security standards that each merchant must comply with, but that doesn’t completely stop thieves and scammers from benefitting from money they don’t deserve.
Many thieves take advantage of a store’s return policy, collecting cash and store credit. Another popular tactic is returning stolen goods or goods purchased with stolen payment methods. Less popularly, but still a deceiving tactic, is the fraudulent return of an item with counterfeit receipts, or fake e-receipts.
“Enhanced due diligence must be conducted by all merchant types, not just retail merchants,” Pablo Nuñez, Risk Analyst for National Merchants Association reports. “Ensure all sales are valid. Check identification to verify the cardholder, and make sure your business uses fraud detection tools. Protect your assets!”
If you’re a consumer, you too must protect your assets, which includes checking your bank statements regularly for suspicious activity, and keeping an eye on your cards at all times. Beware of card skimmers, which can be found at ATMs and gas pumps. Rather than use random ATMs, get cash back at a retail location or use the ATM at your local bank branch. As for gas, pay inside with the cashier, or use old-fashioned cash.