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Washington, DC – Today, the Buy Safe America Coalition, a diverse group of retailers, consumer groups, wholesaler-distributors, manufacturers and law enforcement officials that support efforts to combat organized retail crime and protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods, thanked U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) for introducing the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) Consumers Act, legislation that protects consumers and small businesses from the flood of illicit merchandise found on leading e-commerce platforms.
The INFORM Consumers Act will curtail the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods sold online by removing the anonymity on marketplace platforms which allow criminals and con artists to easily peddle illicit goods. The legislation requires online marketplaces to collect and verify basic business information from sellers and for sellers to provide basic contact information to consumers. The INFORM Consumers Act has also been introduced in the Senate and is supported by Senators Durbin (D-IL), Cassidy (R-LA), Hirono (D-HI), Grassley (R-IA), Coons (D-DE), Rubio (R-FL), Warnock (D-GA) and Tillis (R-NC).
"It’s time to modernize our consumer protection laws to help stop the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods that are harming families, communities and small businesses," said Michael Hanson, Buy Safe America Coalition spokesperson. "We are grateful to U.S. Representatives Schakowsky and Bilirakis for introducing The INFORM Consumers Act. "This legislation will help shine a bright light on criminals selling on dominant marketplaces that are ripping off consumers by peddling dangerous, defective and stolen goods."
"The sale of counterfeit auto parts jeopardizes consumer safety and remains a great concern for both automakers and suppliers," said Hilary Cain, Vice President of Technology, Innovation & Mobility Policy at the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. "We applaud Reps. Schakowsky and Bilirakis for their commitment to protecting unsuspecting consumers from criminals peddling dangerous counterfeit auto parts on e-commerce platforms."
"Throughout the pandemic, we experienced an unprecedented amount of fraud, specifically the sale of counterfeit versions of essential medical products at a time when they were desperately needed," said David Gillan, Senior Vice President of Emerging Solutions and Supplier Engagement at Vizient, Inc. "We believe the introduction of the INFORM Consumers Act marks the next step in the ongoing effort to ensure transparency in third-party marketplaces affecting the production and distribution of medical products."
"With consumers increasingly shopping online, third-party marketplaces must remain clear of deceitful individuals masquerading as legitimate healthcare retailers and selling potentially dangerous healthcare products," said Marc Schloss, Vice President, Federal Government Affairs at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. "The Consumer Healthcare Products Association is proud to support the INFORM Consumers Act and urges lawmakers to make meaningful change for marketplace transparency."
The introduction of the INFORM Consumers Act comes at a time when there is an urgent need to address the online sale of stolen and counterfeit products. As recent busts in Colorado and Massachusetts illustrate, law enforcement officials are uncovering massive schemes involving stolen merchandise sold online. In addition, the sale of counterfeit products has emerged as a serious threat, with criminals selling counterfeit masks, toys, auto parts and other items on third-party marketplaces.
"Organized retail crime organizations have been ramping up for years and the pandemic is providing them with an even more lucrative marketplace for selling stolen merchandise," said John Liesching, Vice President, Asset Protection for CVS Health. "Requiring e-commerce platforms to authenticate their third-party sellers is a common-sense solution, providing indisputable safety benefits for retail employees and consumers alike."
"The INFORM Consumers Act would provide law enforcement officials with the tools necessary to curb the flow of stolen merchandise," said Ben Dugan, President, Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail. "Authorities in both the public and private sectors would benefit directly from this feasible and imperative measure."
"E-commerce platforms have become a breeding ground for stolen products taken off retailers’ shelves," said Scott Glenn, Vice President of Asset Protection for The Home Depot. "We are pleased to see Congress introduce a bipartisan bill to hold third-party marketplaces accountable and ensure innocent customers don’t buy merchandise sold by thieves."
"The lack of transparency and accountability in today’s digital marketplaces has driven the continued rise of organized retail crime. The introduction of the INFORM Consumers Act by Representatives Schakowsky and Bilirakis is a first step to bring more accountability, to require online marketplaces to verify high-volume sellers, remove incentives for retail theft and help make our communities safer," said Ed Kaleta, Group Vice President of U.S. Government Relations at Walgreens. "We hope agreement on the legislation can be reached and a strong bill is advanced. Online marketplaces owe it to their customers to know who is operating on their platforms."
Visit BuySafeAmerica.org for more information about the growing problem of stolen and counterfeit goods and solutions to better protect consumers and businesses.