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Retailers Want More Personal Info In Exchange For Returns

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Christmas shopping (CBS)

Christmas shopping (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Now that holiday gifts have been exchanged, it may be time for you to head to the store to return something that isn’t quite right.

Be warned: You may be asked for personal information. CBS 2’s Susan Carlson explains.

Oh, for the good old days when most stores would take back just about anything.

No receipt, no tags, no problem.

“There was this whole idea of relationship marketing, like let’s build relationships with the consumers and by doing that we build trust and loyalty and that means they’ll be repeat purchasers,” Susan Dobscha of Bentley University says.

You’ll need more than a receipt these days. More stores are requiring photo ID’s, a home address, phone numbers and even email information before you can make an exchange.

“They’re trying to really batten down and hyper-control the return policies,” Dobscha said.

Retailers say they need to crack down on returns because it costs them so much. On average, 10 percent of all purchases get brought back to the store. And then there’s fraud. Shoplifted items without receipts are also returned for cash.

Still, shoppers say some stores go too far and question why retailers need so much personal information.

Some retailers are using all this personal information for more than just theft prevention. They’re using it for marketing databases.

Shoppers, however, don’t like the idea of customer service turning into Big Brother.

Edgar Dworksy of Consumerworld.org says shoppers have rights — to a point.

“Technically, a merchant has to disclose their return policy clearly and conspicuously before you buy,” he said. “Could an argument be made that they have to also say, ‘We are going to require personal identification when you return the goods?’ It’s a little bit of a gray area.”

There’s no law in Illinois that limits what personal information retailers can ask for when you return something. But consumer experts warn that one thing you should never give out is your social security number.

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