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ConsumerWatch: Stores Requiring ID, Tracking To Prevent Repeated Returns

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - When you make a return this holiday season you may have to hand over more than just your receipt, as retailers try to prevent repeated returns.

"I was required to provide them a copy of my driver's license, where they actually took the information and scanned it into their database," said a shopper who asked to be identified only as Leslie.

Two years ago, Leslie told the sales associate at The Children's Place that she was uncomfortable handing over her ID just to make an exchange, but she was told that the requirement was corporate policy.

Today, similar policies are becoming more and more common at retailers across the country.

While the Children's Place only requires an ID for a return without a receipt, a growing number of stores, including Victoria's Secret, require that you let them scan your ID to return an item with or without a receipt. (See The Children's Place return policy here)

According to the National Retail Federation, 62 percent of retailers have ID requirements. Among those who have similar policies for returns are The Finish Line, Home Depot, Target and more.

So where does your information go? Likely it's being stored on The Retail Equation, a service which tracks how often you bring stuff back and identifies habitual returners.

The retail exchange has said return fraud and "renting" - buying an item to wear and return - costs the retail industry billions each year.

In an effort to stop that practice, they're tracking you, and all of your returns at their participating stores, in a database.

Return items too frequently, and you may lose your right to bring back your purchases anywhere.

"They have no right, I my view, of swiping my drivers license," said Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier. "I will never let someone scan my driver's license."

California civil code currently allows retailers to swipe your ID when investigating fraud, abuse or misrepresentation.

But Speier believes a legitimate return with a receipt does not fall under that exception.

State law does require retailers post the ID requirement prominently in their return policy…both Victoria secrets and The Children's Place do just that. If it's in their policy, and you want to make a return, you'll likely have to hand over your ID.

For more information on The Retail Equation, or to request a copy of your profile, visit their website.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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