Frequently Asked Questions
For these FAQs, “retailer” means the retail companies that have entered into a contract with TRE to license its software to authorize returns, exchanges, post-sale adjustments, or re-shipment transactions (collectively, “Transactions”). In other words, a retailer is a TRE customer. A retailer may choose to use TRE’s Transaction Authorization software on behalf of itself and on behalf of the other store brands affiliated with the retailer.
About The Retail Equation (TRE) Transaction Authorization
The Retail Equation (TRE) is a software and analytics company headquartered in Irvine, California, USA. It is a service provider that helps retail companies detect and prevent potentially fraudulent Transactions and reduce policy abuse.
If a retail company has problems with Transaction fraud or policy abuse, it can hire TRE to help prevent the problems. TRE Transaction Authorization is the software used to recommend for that retailer to approve, warn, or deny a transaction.
A warning message is intended to inform you that future Transaction requests may be denied. A denial means your current Transaction is not accepted. When you are denied, future Transactions may be denied for a period of time.
Retailers have the option to permanently block any consumer from making Transactions if that consumer has a history of fraudulent Transaction behavior.
TRE Transaction Authorization examines the purchase and Transaction data from a specific retailer. It examines the in-store and online transactions and connects them with an ID number—such as a form of payment or government-issued ID. The system then analyzes that consumer’s Transaction history with that retailer to identify activity that appears to be fraudulent or abusive or in violation of the retailer’s policies.
About 1% of the time, TRE will recommend to a retailer that a consumer be given a warning or that the Transaction be denied. Refused Transactions generally fall into two categories:
– Transactions that break that retailer’s basic policy such as asking for a Transaction after the allowed return period, returning a non-returnable item, making a Transaction without a receipt, or making more Transactions than a retail company allows within a specified time.
– Transactions that make the consumer’s behavior at that retailer indicate fraud or abuse, such as returning an item after removing some of its parts.
See below for instructions on contesting a denial that you believe to be in error.
To reduce the likelihood of being warned or denied on a future Transaction, consumers should consider the factors listed above and try to reduce their frequency of these specific Transaction types, reduce the dollar amounts of these specific Transaction types, and return within the retailer’s return time limits.
The information TRE receives from an ID varies by applicable regulations and retailer discretion.
Typically, this information includes:
– Government issued identification number and expiration date
– Date of birth
– TRE does NOT receive or utilize gender, race, nationality, physical characteristics, marital status, or payment card information.
This varies from one retailer to the next. The factors that TRE may consider for a given retailer include:
– The frequency of the specific Transaction type at that retailer
– Transaction value at that retailer
– Whether the consumer has a receipt for the Transaction request
– Purchase history at that retailer
TRE does NOT consider any of the following factors in evaluating Transactions:
– Physical characteristics
– Marital status
You should reach out to the relevant retailer to request what information they may hold on you.
TRE provides a method for you to request a copy of your Retail Activity Report (RAR) for a retailer. A RAR shows your Transactions that are considered by TRE in making its authorization recommendation to the retailer. You can request your RAR at www.TheRetailEquation.com.
The information contained in your RAR is provided to TRE by the retailer. You should contact the relevant retailer if you believe your RAR contains incorrect information.
Background on Transaction Fraud and Abuse
Transaction fraud generally involves stealing or forgery. For example, a person might return stolen merchandise to make money, steal or falsify receipts to enable excessive returns, exchanges, post-sale adjustments, and reshipments, or use merchandise returns to convert bad checks to cash.
Transaction abuse involves purchasing merchandise without intending to keep it. An example is buying clothes, wearing them for Instagram photos, and then returning them.
Return fraud, for example, harms consumers and workers—not just retail companies. The US retail industry lost $78+ billion to return fraud in 2021. Retailers must increase their prices or reduce staff to cover those losses. In 2021, return fraud/abuse was equivalent to 2.19+ million jobs and cost states a total of $5.16 billion in lost sales taxes.
More return fraud specifics are available in the “Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry” report issued in conjunction with the National Retail Federation.
Yes. It is estimated that more than half of fraudulent Transactions involve some sort of counterfeit, “found,” or re-used receipts.
Benefits of The Retail Equation (TRE) Transaction Authorization
TRE’s Transaction Authorization software benefits consumers because it enables consistent and objective enforcement of a retailer’s policies. TRE helps retailers save money and reduce waste, which savings can be passed on to consumers.
Relationship Between TRE and Retailers
Please see the applicable retailer’s return or other Transaction policies for information on when and how you are able to make a return, exchange, post-sale adjustment, or reshipment request.
No. TRE’s software is designed to prevent co-mingling of consumer data across retailers. When making a recommendation to a retailer, TRE’s software only considers a consumer’s Transaction and purchase history at that retailer.
No. TRE is acting as a service provider to its retailer customers and does not share consumer data with credit reporting agencies or similar third parties like creditors, employers, insurers, landlords, or government agencies.