Identity Theft and Store Returns

How to Avoid Identity Theft When Returning an Item after the Holidays

The holidays are a time when your risk of identity theft is at risk. Typically, online shopping and leaving your credit card visible when you are standing in line are two ways that increase your risk of identity theft. Another possible way that you can be at risk for identity theft is one that you don’t even realize it. This year you need to be extra careful when you are making any returns. Returning items to a store can be one potential way that you can become the victim of identity theft.

Need-To-Know Basis

When you return an item to the store, a sales associate will usually ask you for your name address and phone number. Stores need to keep track of customers who return items and how often they return items. It’s unfortunate, but some criminals will simply take an item off the shelf and walk to the cash register to “return” it obviously without a receipt. You should be very suspicious if you try to return an item to the store and they ask you for a credit card. This can be a red flag for identity theft.

Keep in mind that stores hire many temporary employees during the holiday season, and these employees might have an ulterior motive for working there. It is a good idea to not provide a credit card simply to return an item. If you are asked to provide a credit card number in order to return an item, mention that the return policy printed on the back of your receipt doesn’t mention that being a requirement. You can also ask how the store handles returns for customers who don’t have a credit card. If the sales associate insists, ask to speak to a store manager.

A Compromise

The risk of identity theft is too great, and if a store insists on you providing a credit card in order to get a cash refund for your return item, then simply bargain for a store credit in the absence of providing a credit card. This can help protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft.

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