You hear the word "fraud," and immediately may think of nefarious characters looking to steal millions from businesses or private citizens in New York. In reality, however, fraud accusations can be far-reaching. The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines it as "the intentional perversion of the truth for the purpose of inducing another person or other entity in reliance upon it to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right." This potentially broad application has led many of those that we here at Sapone & Petrillo, LLP have worked with to be unwittingly accused of conducted fraudulent activities. One such activity that is becoming increasingly prevalent is return fraud.
You purchase an item from a seller or retailer with the expectation that you have the right to return it. Recent years, however, have seen businesses suffer from people taking advantage of return policies by either purchasing products, using them and then returning them claiming they were defective, or even going so far as to steal items and then returning them asking for refunds. A seller or retailer might easily mistake your attempt to return a product as this type of fraud if it questions your motives for returning it.
According to the state of New York's Division of Consumer Protection, sellers or retailers that have no posted return or refund policy must accept returned items within 30 days of purchase. Thus, the opportunity to commit return fraud is certainly there. One way to avoid being accused of it is asking to receive a copy of a seller's return or refund policy at the time of purchase, and then working with the same sales agent if you do indeed need to return the product.
More information on avoiding accusations of fraud can be found here on our site.