Facepalm: Unsurprisingly, cyber criminals are already aware of the strategy and are taking advantage of it for personal gain through social engineering or flat out lying. As such, the exact specifics of what constitutes a "keep it" return will likely confidential (and fluid) in order to deter fraud.

The uptick in online shopping over the past year has prompted some retailers to rethink how they handle returns.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some major e-commerce players including Amazon and Walmart are employing artificial intelligence to determine what step to take when processing a refund. For inexpensive or large items, it may often be cheaper to simply refund the purchase price and have the customer keep the item.

A spokesperson for Walmart said the "keep it" option is sometimes used for merchandise they don't plan to resell and is based on metrics like a product's value, a customers' purchase history and how much it would cost to process the return.

Target said it will refund a purchase and encourage shoppers to keep the item or donate it in a small number of instances where it is easier than returning the item. Amazon was mum when asked for comment.

In year's past, retailers would encourage customers to return unwanted items to local stores. Not only was this cheaper in terms of freight costs, it gave retailers yet another opportunity to make a sale as customers would tend to make additional purchases while at the store. This option isn't as feasible given the pandemic, however.

Image credit Tero Vesalainen, cybrain