INFORM Consumers Act passes House, would protect retail against online theft

INFORM Consumers Act passes House, would protect retail against online theft

Rebecca Barnabi
Photo Credit: duncanandison

With Black Friday one week away, the U.S. House passed the INFORM Consumers Act.

If approved by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Joe Biden, the Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act would combat the online sale of stolen, counterfeit and dangerous consumer products by ensuring transparency of high-volume third-party sellers in online retail marketplaces, according to a press release.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger voted in favor of the legislation on Thursday.

“As the number of Virginians shopping online increases, so do the threats of stolen, counterfeit, or hazardous products being sold as legitimate goods. To protect the purchases of consumers and make sure that their holiday deals aren’t too good to be true, we need to make sure that sellers are who they say they are,” Spanberger said in the press release. The bipartisan INFORM Consumers Act would bring much-needed verification processes to the often-murky world of third-party sellers. Through this additional transparency, we can take baseline steps to make sure Virginians aren’t being ripped off as they shop online — and we can root out criminal organizations that are hawking fake or defective merchandise.”

The legislation would direct retail with third-party sellers to verify the identity of “high-volume third-party sellers,” and deter the online sale of counterfeit goods by anonymous sellers, as well as prevent organized retail crime rings from stealing items from stores for resell in bulk online. High-volume third-party sellers are vendors who have made 200 or more discrete sales in a 12-month period of $5,000 or more.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley applauded the House in a press release Friday for passage of the legislation.

“With an overwhelming majority in favor, the U.S. House of Representatives sent a clear message with the passage of the INFORM Act that the national plague of organized retail theft will no longer be tolerated. This sophisticated, organized and growing crime wave is hurting businesses in every state, the workers they employ and the communities they serve,” Bradley said in the press release.

Bradley added that congressional approval and the president’s signature “should be accomplished without delay. No store should have to close because of theft.”

The legislation’s requirements would be implemented by the Federal Trade Commission, and civil penalties would be enforced on violations.

The INFORM Consumers Act is also endorsed by Buy Safe America Coalition, which includes the International Council of Shopping Centers, 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 and Rite Aid; Coalition to Protect America’s Small Sellers (including eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, Pinterest, OfferUp, Redbubble, and more); Consumer Reports, and U.S. PIRG.


Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.