Durbin, Cassidy Applaud Senate Passage Of Their Inform Consumers Act

Legislation will ensure greater transparency for third-party sellers of consumer products online

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) applauded Senate passage of their Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act. The legislation, which passed as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Act, 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.

“People deserve to know basic information about those who sell them consumer products online,” said 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 glad our important bipartisan legislation has passed the Senate and I look forward to seeing it signed into law.”

“Criminal organizations are putting consumers in danger by tricking them into buying counterfeit and hazardous products online. The INFORM Act is crucial to protecting Americans from scammers on the internet,” said Dr. Cassidy.

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.