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SALT LAKE CITY — Many people will be returning at least one item to a store over the next several days, and fraudsters know it.
Return fraud is big — multi-billion dollar big. The National Retail Federation says stores will lose some $3.3 billion this holiday season alone. That has prompted retailers to tighten their return policies.
At Toys R Us, customers have until Jan. 25 to return many items, but certain electronics like cameras, MP3 players, and video gaming consoles must be returned by Jan. 9.
Consumers have 30 days to return a major appliance bought at Sears, and there's a 15-percent restocking fee if they used it or lost a part.
Best Buy has shortened its holiday return period to Jan. 15 - nine days sooner than last year.
But a handful of stores offer more open-ended policies. Many Costco items can be returned any time, but there's a 90-day limit if you're returning a TV, computer, or camera, among other electronic devices. And Kohl's has no date restrictions on returns.
Regardless of why you're returning something, you'll want to bring a state-issued ID with you. It's a step stores are taking to catch repeat returners.
"Stores now require you to show ID," said Miro Copic, a marketing professor. "If you've returned over a certain number of items over say, a 90-day period or 120-day period, the next time you won't be able to return."