Better Business Bureau: Hold on to your receipt this gift-giving season

By Tracy Bracy
Dec. 21, 2013 at 6:21 a.m.

I still have some Christmas shopping to do, and time is running out. Hopefully, everyone will like what I pick out, but there's always a chance that someone won't like their present as much as I did when I saw it in the store. If that happens, I want them to be able to return it and get something they like better.

While various retailers have loosened their return policies during the holiday season, Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin warns that some stores could be tightening their return procedures because of an increase in return fraud. So, make sure you save your receipts.

According to National Retail Federation's 2013 Return Fraud Survey, retail companies could lose an estimated $8.76 billion to return fraud this year. Overall, 5.8 percent of holiday returns are fraudulent, up slightly from 4.6 percent last year.

Return fraud comes in many forms, but the main methods of return fraud involve purchasing merchandise for short-term use and then returning the item; returning stolen merchandise; or using reused, stolen or falsified receipts to return merchandise for a profit.

To put you and your gift recipients in the best position for a happy return or exchange, the bureau 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 is required for a return or exchange, and if you have questions, call the store directly to ask about your specific situation.

Keep original packaging. Some stores may require that products be returned in original purchase condition, unused or unopened.

Bring identification. Because of return fraud, some retailers will ask for identification when making a return. If you're returning or exchanging a gift that you bought, bring the credit card used to make that purchase.

Read product warranty first. In some cases, retail stores are not liable if the product turns up defective or damaged. They may 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.

Keep the receipt. Include a gift receipt with all gifts so it's easier for the recipient to return or exchange the gift if it's not the right fit.

Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by email at



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