Beware of a new scam out there among the great unwashed. If you pay with any kind of plastic, check your receipt for your purchase to be sure you were correctly charged and look carefully for a ‘cash back’ entry. Many stores have a policy which only produces a receipt if your purchase total is over a low threshold, say $25. This is in the name of saving paper. If you do not ask for a paper receipt then one is not printed, unfortunately this can lead to abuse.
Recently a lady (unnamed) made a purchase at a department store. She did check her receipt and noticed a $20 cash back entry. She pointed it out to the cashier who then whipped out a twenty and handed it to the customer. The customer handed it back saying she did not ask for the cash and does not want it on her credit card. The clerk said she would have to wait for the supervisor, people in line behind started to grumble. She stuck to her guns and told the supervisor her issue. After some exchange the whole purchase was deleted and everything had to be re-scanned.
The moral to the story is this, think how many times a day this would actually work. At the end of the shift there would be a lot of $20s in the clerk’s pocket. Always ask for a receipt when paying with a card, credit or debit, and check it within sight of the cashier before you leave the store. Another wrinkle in this scam is to have an accomplice go through the checkout with a small purchase, then receives a wad of money in her bag which they split up later. This way the clerk gets away holding nothing at the end of shift.
It used to be you traded at a particular store because you trusted them, trust in the merchandise and trust in the people who own and operate the store. Today it is hard to know anyone who works at the big box stores and there is no loyalty between customer and owner or customer and clerk, unless you know that clerk. So always ask for a receipt and check it.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.