The man checks the data on the laptop

Some stores hire a company called The Retail Equation to monitor its customers’ return habits. There are some problems with this.

The Retail Equation collects data from some stores regarding the return and exchange data of those stores’ customers. The stores claim this helps identify and prevent fraud and excessive returns. There are issues with the data. Just ask some customers who have had returns denied due to inaccurate reporting.

Quick Answers

Find out what The Retail Equation is, what they do, and what you can do in cases of errors on their background check reports.

What is The Retail Equation?

Over the past few decades, the amount of consumer data being collected has skyrocketed. This data has assisted companies in analyzing market trends and consumer tastes, allowing them to deliver better products.

Of course, that still leaves a lot of data sitting there with no purpose. This data hasn’t been left alone. Lots of companies have used this data to compile background check reports on individuals. These background check reports offer everything from credit fraud to mortgage default histories.

The histories compiled within these reports can then be used by companies when making decisions. For instance, a lender may not wish to lend money to someone who has defaulted in the past. Background checks and screening services offer companies a quick and cost-effective way to reduce liabilities and make safer decisions.

The Retail Equation offers background checks with a specialized twist. They collect information on customers who return items to any store. These return histories can subsequently be used to detect fraudulent activities in the system.

Customers who return goods with irregular frequency are likely committing fraud, and, understandably, merchants would wish to crack down on such activities.

How to Beat The Retail Equation

If you are a shopper who returns many items, navigating around The Retail Equation can be challenging. Here are some tips on:

  • Understand store policy. Different stores who hire The Retail Equation have different return and exchange policies. Make sure you know their rules, time limits, policies when it comes to needing original packaging and receipts, and any other regulation they might have. Being aware of these details can help you comply with their policies and prevent your return from raising a red flag.
  • Keep your receipts. Make keeping and storing your receipts a habit. They are proof you purchased something and therefore, support your position when you try to return something.
  • Stagger your returns. If you return items too often, The Retail Equation might take notice. Do your best to space out your returns so you don’t look like someone who is abusing store policy.
  • Be courteous. When you return something, always be honest about the reason for the return. Always be polite and courteous to the customer service person or store clerk. They're more likely to help you if you're friendly and straightforward.

The Retail Equation reviews the data produces reports to thwart fraud. If you have proof of your purchases and do not abuse a store’s return policy, there will be no need for The Retail Equation to flag you.

How to Dispute The Retail Equation

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, The Retail Equation will flag you. This will result in The Retail Equation warning you about returning too much stuff or denying you altogether. This will likely result in the denial of your attempted return along with much embarrassment. Though sometimes it can lead to even more devastating consequences. If you are ever flagged by The Retail Equation, here’s what we recommend you do:

  • Request your return activity report. First, don’t panic. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”) is a federal law that governs the responsibilities that The Retail Equation has when it comes to dealing with consumers. You have the right to know what information is in The Retail Equation report and can get one report per year for free. The Retail Equation Return Activity Report has all the data that The Retail Equation has collected about your returns. Ask for it. You can request it online, over the phone, or by U.S. mail.

    The Retail Equation Contact Information

    Address: P.O. Box 51373, Irvine, California

    Fax: 92619-1373

    Phone: 800-652-2331

    Web: theretailequation.com
     
  • It is never too early to contact a credit report lawyer to discuss what happened. An experienced and friendly lawyer at Consumer Attorneys is always happy to talk to you.
  • Check for mistakes. When you get your report, review it carefully and thoroughly. Errors happen on these reports with more frequency than they should. Inaccuracies can range from one return being recorded twice, to a return that you did not make being recorded, to you being confused with someone else. If you find mistakes, you should dispute them.
  • Dispute The Retail Equation’s report. Write a letter to The Retail Equation and explain the errors. Be clear and provide evidence, likely receipts. If you do not have receipts then look for bank statements or contact the store in question and ask for a receipt or some record of the purchase. While you can also file the dispute online and over the phone, we recommend doing so though by mailing a certified letter. This way you have a record of everything and do not waive any future rights to sue The Retail Equation.
  • Seek legal advice. The FCRA requires The Retail Equation to investigate your claim and provide a response in 30 days. If they don’t, you can sue them for breaking the law. It’s always a good idea to contact lawyers for consumers as soon as something like a return denial happens. Some actions warrant immediate legal action.

The Retail Equation Lawsuit

Lately, consumers have brought some significant lawsuits against The Retail Equation and some of the stores that use its services. The complaints generally allege that The Retail Equation’s methods are unfair, that honest customers were being flagged, that The Retail Equation was sharing too much consumer data, and that the whole The Retail Equation process treated consumers unfairly, especially when their data was incorrect. For example, even items returned with a receipt were returned. Some argued it was the equivalent of getting a criminal record without ever committing a crime.

The Retail Equation class action lawsuit further claimed that The Retail Equation system is too secretive and operates without the consumer’s consent. Generally, the law requires a person’s permission before you can share their data with another entity. Additionally, some customers allege they were unfairly denied the right to return merchandise and wrongly accused of abusing return policies. This damaged their reputation and their ability to engage in commerce.

Dealing with The Retail Equation requires you to be smart, understand your rights, and be proactive if you are the victim of an error in a report.

Errors on The Retail Equation Background Check

The trouble arises when the reports contain inaccurate information. No one is against the right of merchants to prevent fraud at their establishments; however, if you’ve been unfairly reported, then you may have a bone to pick with them and their wrong information.

An error in a background check report by The Retail Equation isn’t impossible. In fact, when you consider the amount of raw data that is simplified when compiling these reports, you’ll see why it is likely that there are numerous inaccuracies in the reports.

If the mistakes, even if they’re honest ones, had no real-life consequences for you, then this may not even be that big of an issue. Unfortunately, fraud is a serious allegation that can result in some unpleasant results for you, such as:

  • Unable to get a job;
  • Unable to get a retail job;
  • Unable to get promoted at your current job;
  • Damaged reputation;
  • Legal charges brought against you;
  • Blacklisted from retail outlets.

As you can see, there are several personal and professional consequences of mistakes on your background check report. Luckily, you aren’t without options. Under the FCRA, you must consent to any background check being conducted against you.

You also have the right to receive a copy of the report. If you spot any inconsistencies in the report, you are entitled to challenge The Retail Equation. If they do not fix the mistake within 30 days, you can file a suit against them.

Questions about The Retail Equation? Give us a call!

If you have been denied a return because of information in The Retail Equation and have questions about how to proceed, call us. Our attorneys are always eager to talk to you:

  • Call +1 877-615-1725 to talk to one of our credit report attorneys to assess your case.
  • Fill out our Contact Us form or start a LIVE CHAT with an attorney.

Write to us at info@consumerattorneys.com We look forward to hearing from and helping you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is The Retail Equation legal?

    The Retail Equation is a legitimate company. It is a service that retail stores use to track the return and exchange patterns and habits of their customers. Determining whether what it does is legal or not depends on whether The Retail Equation obeys relevant laws, especially the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”). The FCRA governs how reporting companies like The Retail Equation monitor and share consumer data, whether that data is accurate, and how it responds to consumer requests to correct errors in their data.

  • How does The Retail Equation track you?

    The Retail Equation tracks consumers and their behaviors by monitoring consumers’ returns and exchanges at participating stores. Whenever you return or exchange an item from a store, that store gives the details of that return to The Retail Equation. The clerk will ask for your ID, input your information into the system and then input details of the return (the item, the date, the cost) into the system. The Retail Equation collects that data and prepares or updates a report on you where all your returns are tracked. This is to prevent fraud and to prevent what it believes are unreasonable return behaviors.

  • What companies use The Retail Equation?

    Approximately 27,000 stores use The Retail Equation. While many stores do not disclose whether they use The Retail Equation or not. The stores that do use The Retail Equation include Best Buy, Home Depot, Sephora, CVS, JCPenney, Victoria’s Secret, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Nike are just a few of the stores that use The Retail Equation to track their customers’ return and exchange habits. They say they do this to identify and prevent fraud and excessive exchanges but recently the company has faced criticism for the way it handles consumer data and the way consumers are treated when they try to return or exchange an item.

 
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