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Retailers may sue you for shoplifting, even if you didn’t

Here in America, large companies often offset their inventory losses by accusing individuals of shoplifting and demanding compensation before the legal system convicts them of any crime. While shrewd legal and business maneuvers may help keep prices low, throwing members of the public under the bus on shaky legal grounds is something far different.

Recent reports by the New York Times shined a light on this practice, which aims to collect millions of dollars a year from former customers who may or may not have done anything wrong. According to the Times, One of the biggest retailers in the country retains a private firm to send out thousands of letters each year to accused shoplifters, asking for compensation for some alleged theft.

It's plain to see that this adds up to a modern retelling of the story of David and Goliath, where a young and unexperienced field worker goes up against an opposing force with much more clout and experience.

If you recently received shoplifting charges, you may feel stuck in a similar position. Make sure that you understand the legal options to protect your rights and how to stand up for fair treatment, for yourself and others.

An uneven match

For many large companies, accusing private individuals of shoplifting without any demonstrable basis for those claims is just part of business. In the minds of those making the decisions, it is simple to see that they must make up for shoplifting inventory losses somehow, and certainly some of those they accuse of shoplifting are guilty.

After all, how else are they going to make up the shortfall, and how will they explain the shortfall to their stockholders? By shifting the problem onto the backs of thousands of individuals who may or may not have the wherewithal to fight back, the companies can reclaim some of their losses and keep their bottom lines where they want them to be.

However, this does not make it right for a company to accuse a customer of a crime and then demand repayment before the court determines if the crime even occurred. To the company, this is just a numbers game, where some will choose to fight back, draining their own resources, while others will pay the requested money to make the problem go away, as unjust as that may be.

Standing up to corporate giants

If you find yourself or someone you love facing these accusations, do not take them sitting down. This entire questionable practice is built on the assumption that private individuals would rather pay money they may not owe to a large company to avoid a legal hassle that may not go their way.

Your rights and the rights of all private persons deserve protecting, and a strong legal strategy built with high-quality legal resources can keep these rights secure. Standing up to a retail giant attempting to bully you into paying an unfair fines takes courage, but if you don't do it, who will?

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