It's that time of year — people everywhere are returning gifted items that they don't want.
Many people think that when you return a product to a retailer, it'll just end up back on the shelf.
But that's not always the case.
Clear Returns CEO Vicky Brock explained to Bloomberg Businessweek:
“A lot of people think that when they return something, it’ll go straight back on sale.
But it may never get back on sale — by the time it’s been sent back to distribution, repackaged, if it’s in a condition for sale, it could have been discontinued or discounted. In some cases, it’ll just get shredded.”
And it doesn't help that "wear-and-return" fraud is a major problem. Brock said that nearly 25 percent of people interviewed by Clear Returns said they knew somebody who wore a product and returned it later on a regular basis.
Some people damage the items on purpose before returning them. Of course, those can't be resold either.
Return fraud will cost retailers $2.9 billion this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation. The industry as whole will lose around $8.9 billion as a result of return fraud in 2012.
The NRF estimates that 4.6 percent of all holiday returns will be fraudulent.
"Return fraud comes in a variety of forms and continues to present challenges for retailers trying to grapple with the sophisticated methods criminals are using to rip off retailers,” said NRF VP of loss prevention Rich Mellor in a release.
“Even more troubling is the fact that innocent consumers often suffer because companies have to look for ways to prevent and detect all types of crime and fraud in their stores, oftentimes resorting to shorter return windows and limitations on the types of products that can be returned.”
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