WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today their Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act has been included in the substitute of the Senate-version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that advanced to the Senate floor today.
The legislation will combat the online sale of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products by ensuring transparency of high-volume third-party sellers in online retail marketplaces. It would direct online retail marketplaces that include third-party sellers of consumer products to verify the identity of “high-volume third-party sellers,” which will help deter the online sale of counterfeit goods by anonymous sellers and prevent organized retail crime rings from stealing items from stores to resell those items in bulk online.
“Criminal organizations are putting consumers in danger by tricking them into buying counterfeit and hazardous products online. With the INFORM Act added to the Senate NDAA, we are a step closer to protecting Americans from scammers on the internet,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“People deserve to know basic information about those who sell them consumer products online,” said Senator Durbin. “By providing appropriate verification and transparency of high-volume third party sellers, the INFORM Consumers Act will shine a light that will deter online sales of stolen, counterfeit, and unsafe goods and protect consumers. I’m pleased our important bipartisan bill was included in the Senate NDAA legislation and will continue pushing for its inclusion in the final package.”
The INFORM Consumers Act directs online marketplaces to verify high-volume third-party sellers by authenticating the seller’s government ID, tax ID, bank account information, and contact information. High-volume third-party sellers are defined as vendors who have made 200 or more discrete sales in a 12-month period amounting to $5,000 or more.
The legislation instructs online marketplaces to ensure that their high-volume third-party sellers disclose to consumers basic identity and contact information.
The online marketplace will also need to supply a hotline to allow customers to report to the marketplace suspicious marketplace activity such as the posting of suspected stolen, counterfeit, or dangerous products. The bill presents an exception for individual high-volume third-party sellers that permits them not to have their personal street address or personal phone number revealed to the public if they respond to consumers’ questions over email within a reasonable timeframe. The bill’s requirements would be implemented by the FTC and violations would be subject to civil penalties.
Supporters of the INFORM Consumers Act include AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Buy Safe America Coalition (which includes the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Toy Association, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributers, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the International Council of Shopping Centers, the American Apparel & Footwear Association, The Home Depot, Walgreens, 3M, CVS Health, Nordstrom, Ulta Beauty, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gap Inc., HP, Levi Strauss & Co., Phillips, Rite Aid, and more); the Coalition to Protect America’s Small Sellers (including eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, Pinterest, OfferUp, Redbubble, and more); Consumer Reports, U.S. PIRG, and more.