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Global Public Policy

ICSC, RILA and other industry groups seek online seller transparency

August 28, 2020

Earlier this month ICSC joined with other industry leaders to launch the Buy Safe America Coalition, a diverse group of associations that support efforts at all levels of government to combat organized retail crime (ORC) and protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods.

According to a recent report by the Department of Homeland Security, the sale of fraudulent goods is a $509 billion criminal enterprise. Criminals use the anonymity of online marketplaces to create the appearance of a legitimate business in order to sell counterfeit products and stolen merchandise.

The ease of selling illicit goods to unsuspecting consumers has attracted organized criminal networks that are becoming more aggressive and more brazen as a growing number of Americans shop online amid the pandemic. ORC leaves consumers at risk of unknowingly buying stolen and potentially unsafe and tampered goods and undermines legitimate businesses by forcing them to compete against deceptively cheap stolen and counterfeit products.

The Buy Safe America Coalition is urging Congress to pass legislation requiring online marketplaces to collect and verify basic information of third parties who sell products on their platforms.

The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM) Act was introduced in March by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and a House version was introduced in July by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09).

The legislation would require online marketplaces to obtain and verify straightforward information from third-party sellers’ such as their government ID, tax ID, bank account information and contact information. It also requires third-party sellers to disclose their contact information to consumers.

“As we look at the continued convergence of online and physical retail, we believe consumers should know who they are buying from online, just like they would in a brick-and-mortar store,” ICSC Vice President for Federal Operations Jennifer Platt said.

Visit BuySafeAmerica.org for more information.