Merchandise returns cost retailers in the United States more than $350 million in sales last year, including up to $22.8 billion attributed directly to fraudulent returns and abuse, estimates data analytics firm Appriss.
"Fraud is such a big number in retail, one that largely goes unchecked," says Peter Trepp, CEO of FaceFirst, a software firm that provides a security face recognition platform for use in industries including retail, air transportation, casinos, sports and event venues. The company recently unveiled Fraud-IQ, which it calls the first facial recognition product built specifically for use against retail return fraud.
"It’s hard to find tools to combat fraud," Trepp says. "Part of this is because criminals have become so sophisticated. We think [facial recognition] is a contribution to battle this."
The new Fraud-IQ works in two ways to assist retailers. "First, it can identify people entering the store without a package and then showing up at the return counter with goods to return," Trepp says, "and the second works against repeat offenders."