Durbin, Schakowsky Call For Passage Of Bipartisan INFORM Consumers Act

The bipartisan bill would combat the online sale of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products and help reduce organized retail theft

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) today joined consumer protection advocates and local business leaders to call for the passage of their bipartisan Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act. This legislation would combat the online sale of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products by ensuring transparency and verification of high-volume third-party sellers in online retail marketplaces. Requiring authentication of the identity of these online sellers will help deter organized retail crime rings who seek to fence stolen goods online. The bill will also benefit consumers by providing them with basic identification and contact information for the high-volume third party sellers who sell them consumer products. 

Durbin and Schakowsky are working with colleagues to include the INFORM Consumers Act in the final House-Senate conference report for economic competitiveness legislation, which is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

“If a product sold online turns out to be dangerous, counterfeit, or stolen, consumers should be able to know who sold it to them and demand accountability,” Durbin said. “The INFORM Consumers Act ensures a baseline level of transparency for online marketplaces, where currently it may be difficult to know who third-party sellers are. Our bill will not only help promote responsible marketplace behavior, it will also discourage organized retail crime. This bill is good for consumers and businesses.”

“Counterfeit and stolen products defraud consumers, pose a risk to their health, and harm legitimate businesses,” Schakowsky said. “We cannot allow dangerous or stolen products sold online to line criminals’ pockets. The bipartisan, bicameral INFORM Consumers Act will protect consumers and legitimate businesses by holding online marketplaces accountable. As a member of the conference committee, I will fight to include the INFORM Consumers Act in the final competitiveness legislation.” 

Along with the rise in popularity of online marketplaces like Amazon, Facebook, and eBay, there has been an increase of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products offered for sale online to consumers. Currently, it is relatively easy for third-party sellers to go onto an online marketplace, create an account, sell high volumes of illicit goods to unwitting consumers, and then shut down the account and disappear before facing any accountability.

The INFORM Consumers Act would require online marketplaces to verify the identity of their high-volume third party sellers of consumer products by obtaining and verifying information including the seller’s name, tax ID, bank account information, and contact information. The bill would also direct online marketplaces to ensure that consumers have sufficient information so they can identify and contact a high-volume third party seller who has sold them consumer products.  The online marketplace would also have to provide a hotline to enable customers to report to the marketplace suspicious marketplace activity such as the selling of stolen or counterfeit goods. 

Last November, Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a committee hearing entitled, “Cleaning Up Online Marketplaces: Protecting Against Stolen, Counterfeit, and Unsafe Goods.” He heard testimony from the founder of a toy company, Crazy Aaron’s, who talked about how dangerous counterfeit versions of his toys are routinely sold online. He also heard from a major pharmacy about how organized retail theft gangs have been targeting their stores and re-selling stolen goods online in large quantities

Supporters of the INFORM Consumers Act include: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, AFL-CIO, the Fraternal Order of Police, Consumer groups including Consumer Reports and U.S. PIRG, 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.