Return Fraud is a common problem for retailers and often it is difficult to distinguish a fraudulent return from a legitimate return. Finding methods to reduce the risk of a fraudulent return can be even trickier. Those who commit return fraud often use the same reasons for a refund that honest shoppers use for their refunds and exchanges. Here is a list of the most common reasons for merchandise returns from

  1. The customer bought the wrong item
  2. The product is no longer needed
  3. The product did not match its description
  4. The customer wasn’t familiar with the product
  5. A gift purchase was incorrect
  6. The customer didn’t want the item
  7. The product was damaged upon arrival
  8. The merchant shipped the wrong item
  9. ***The customer engages in wardrobing

Reasons 1 through 8 are understandable, I have had to return items for some of these reasons and working in retail I have assisted customers by ordering something for them through our warehouse. I have had customers who received the wrong item even when I correctly input the information in the computer, it happens from time to time. I found it interesting that the number 9 reason on their list was wardrobing. This is one of the most difficult forms of fraud to combat because reasons 1 through 8 are frequently used to get away with reason 9. I will go into more detail on it in a moment but I want to assure you that wardrobing CAN be prevented by using Shark Tags.


This would be a good time for me to clarify what wardrobing is for readers who are not familiar with the term even if they are familiar with the practice. Have you ever had a customer bring in an article of clothing for a return a day or two after they purchased it? They probably had the receipt, the manufacturer labels were intact and hanging from the garment and they may tell you one of the excuses I listed above. You may have been suspicious of the return because the clothing smelled like it had perfume or other odors on it such as food. There may even be a little stain somewhere and the customer stated that it was there already and they must have missed it when they bought the item. Everything is in line with your store policies so you give the refund to keep the customer happy. You may have to damage the product out of stock and try to get some vendor credit back but you still lose money. What you didn’t know was that the customer had worn the item to a party the night before and taped the tags inside a sleeve or down the neck so others wouldn’t see them. You didn’t know the customer had no intention of keeping the items they just wanted to appear to have a new outfit. You are the victim of wardrobing. Shark Tags prevent this activity because they are attached to clothing in a highly visible place and have to be removed by the customer when the customer gets the item home and decides to keep it. Stores using the Shark Tag make policies that clearly let consumers know that no refunds are given for merchandise which has had a Tag removed. Because they are red the tags are going to stand out like a sore thumb if someone were to attempt to wear a garment with the tag attached. If a shopper needs to make a return for reasons 1 through 8 and the tag is intact you can be certain you are not the victim of this type of return fraud.


Every retailer wants to provide a good customer service experience and sometimes that means the return policy has to be a bit on the lenient side. Allowances must be made for purchasing errors, poor gift choices or products not meeting buyer expectations. On the other hand that does not mean that store owners need to go so far in their leniency that they are being taken advantage of and becoming victims of return fraud. Retail anti-theft devices can help prevent fraudulent returns due to theft and Shark Tags can prevent fraud due to customers taking advantage of refund policies. Help keep your shoppers happy by keeping prices lower when you don’t have to be concerned marking up products to offset costs due to fraud. Use Shark Tags and stop the bad guys from eating up your profits.


For more information about wardrobing, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547