The steps would depend on the products and the circumstances.
If it's being returned for in-kind replacement with an obvious defect, require proof of purchase for a return, replace it and take the quality issue up with the suppliers or the store's buyers.
There are people that will buy clothing for a special occasion then return it afterwards. If it's clothing, I'd consider a policy that it must be returned with the tags intact for a refund for clothing. If the tags have been replaced in a different manner or the clothing is soiled in any way, that would indicate they "borrowed" rather than bought it.
If most of it is being brought back for a cash refund, I'd look for an internal theft problem. Example: An employee goes through the outside trash cans and locates sales reciepts for expensive merchandise, steals one then has someone return it for a cash refund. That routine is often thought up by the clean-up crew because of opprotunity. They haul the merchandise out in a trash bin and put it in a dumpster, then come back after the place is closed and retrieve it.
If you suspect it might be a security problem, start asking for positive identification on refunds and try not to refund by cash. Some stores retain the customer's name and the last four numbers on a charge card. You can verify the reciept that way. If it was bought with a card, ask for the card verify the number or do a credit back to the card if they can produce it.
The key is to consider the products being returned, the reasons being given and any other common denominators involved in the returns.
Answered Jul 25, 2011
Edited Jul 25, 2011