Dear Madam Speaker, Representatives McCarthy, Hoyer, and Scalise,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our support to include S. 936/H.R. 5502, the “Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for (INFORM) Consumers Act,” as part of H.R. 4521, the “America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act.”
This legislation was developed in a bipartisan way to ensure that American consumers know who is selling the products they purchase online and ensure that buyers have the ability to identify and contact the seller if there is a problem with their product. This bill creates a solution for a current and pervasive problem in e-commerce—the fact that large numbers of goods sold by third parties on online marketplaces are counterfeit, stolen, or unsafe to consumers. Last year, the U.S. Trade Representatives issued a report that the “rapid growth of e-commerce platforms has helped fuel the growth of
counterfeit and pirated goods into a half trillion dollar industry.”
These criminal third parties can easily able to create an account with an online marketplace like Amazon, sell high volumes of stolen or counterfeit merchandise and then terminate the account if anyone grows suspicious or files a complaint. 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 Act would also direct online marketplaces to ensure that consumers can identify and contact these sellers and establish a hotline to enable customers to report suspicious activity. The Federal Trade Commission would enforce the bill’s provisions and violations would be subject to civil penalties.
The FOP believes these simple and common sense steps will help deter and curtail criminal third parties from abusing online marketplaces for illicit purposes. We strongly support the inclusion of the INFORM Consumers Act in H.R. 4521 and urge you and the members of the conference committee to ensure its retention in the final bill text.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, thank you for taking into consideration the views of the FOP on this legislation. If I can provide any further information on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.