Police body urges passage of INFORM Act

The National Fraternal Order of Police has sent a letter to congress urging lawmakers to support new legislation that aims to crack down on the online sale of products that are counterfeit, stolen, or unsafe to consumers.

The letter  to House and Senate leaders on both sides of the political divide refers to the INFORM for Consumers Act – now part of the larger COMPETES Act – which is designed to help purchasers 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.

It calls for the Act to be adopted so lawmakers can have additional tools to fight "criminal third parties [who] 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."

INFORM is paired with the SHOP SAFE Act, which  aims to incentivise online platforms to adopt best practices that will prevent third-party sellers from listing counterfeit products for sale.

It will 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.

At the same time, it 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 (FTC) 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," says the letter which is written on behalf of 364,000 FOP members.

"We strongly support the inclusion of the INFORM Consumers Act in HR 4521 and urge you and the members of the conference committee to ensure its retention in the final bill text," it adds.

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