Schakowsky Introduces Bill to Protect Consumers Making Online Purchases

October 5, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON –  Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Chair and Ranking Member of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced legislation to combat the online sale of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products. The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act directs online platforms that allow for third-party sellers of consumer products to verify the identity of high-volume third-party sellers, which will prevent organized retail crime. The bill will also ensure that consumers can verify basic identification and contact information for high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products on online marketplaces.

“Counterfeit and stolen goods sold online threaten the health and safety of the American public and line criminals’ pockets. Consumers deserve to shop with confidence and get what they pay for,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “The INFORM Consumers Act will give them that confidence by requiring online marketplaces to verify the identity of high-volume sellers. It will protect consumers and legitimate businesses, increase trust in the marketplace, and discourage criminals and fraudsters.”

“This pro-consumer legislation enacts uniform, nationwide rules to promote safety, increase transparency, and provide greater accountability for online sales. It will provide a layer of enhanced protections for consumers from stolen and counterfeit goods without adding undue burdens on small mom-and-pop businesses,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “This bill is a win-win for consumers and legitimate businesses in the online marketplace.”

The INFORM Consumers Act directs online marketplaces to verify high-volume third-party sellers by acquiring 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 INFORM Consumers Act has received support from a diverse array of organizations including Consumer Reports, the Buy Safe America Coalition, the Coalition to Protect America’s Small Sellers, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

"The bipartisan INFORM Consumers Act is a key step forward in providing consumers with greater transparency and accountability as they shop online. It creates baseline expectations for the platforms that host online marketplaces. At a time when consumers turn to online marketplaces more than ever for their purchases, Consumer Reports thanks Representatives Schakowsky and Bilirakis for their attention to this issue, and looks forward to continuing to work together toward building an online ecosystem that consumers can trust,” said Laurel Lehman, Policy Analyst at Consumer Reports.

“It’s time to modernize our consumer protection laws to help stop the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods that are flooding communities and American households,” 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 make it harder for criminals to hide online behind screen names and fake business accounts, and it will give law enforcement the tools to track criminal rings and con artists ripping off consumers by peddling dangerous, defective and stolen goods.”

“This legislation includes necessary protections for small sellers, and we applaud Rep. Schakowsky and Rep. Bilirakis for their leadership in this effort,” said Chris Lamond, Executive Director for the Coalition to Protect America’s Small Sellers. “The INFORM Consumers Act is a prime example of hard work and collaboration resulting in a thoughtful and balanced policy. We look forward to working with Congress, the administration, and other stakeholders on this important legislation that will allow online marketplaces to flourish in a responsible and safe manner.”

Chris Netram, Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said, “Manufacturers are deeply concerned about growing online sales of fake and counterfeit products, which harm manufacturers, workers and consumers broadly, and can be particularly devastating for small- and medium-sized manufacturers, harming their ability to expand, to hire and to invest in their communities. The INFORM Consumers Act reflects a targeted, bipartisan approach that requires e-commerce platforms to take clear, specific steps to prevent the sale of counterfeits by third-party sellers and to share information with consumers to raise awareness of the dangers of counterfeit products. We look forward to working with Chairwoman Schakowsky, Ranking Member Bilirakis and other members of Congress to continue important work on this bill as a strong, effective tool in our collective fight against counterfeits.”

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