Cassidy sponsors bipartisan bill to quash illegal online bulk sales

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at equalizing transparency among brick-and-mortar retailers to prevent organized retail crime rings from stealing items from these stores and then reselling the items in bulk online.

“Criminal third-party sellers trick consumers into buying counterfeit and hazardous products online,” Sen. Cassidy said. “This bipartisan bill provides information so that consumers can distinguish between genuine retailers and frauds in the internet marketplace.”

Sen. Cassidy on March 10 sponsored the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM) Act, S. 3431, with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to require online marketplaces to disclose certain verified information to inform consumers regarding high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products, according to the congressional record bill summary.

High-volume third-party sellers are vendors who have made 200 or more discrete sales in a 12-month period amounting to $5,000 or more, according to information provided by Sen. Cassidy’s office.

If enacted, S. 3431 would verify high-volume third-party sellers by acquiring the seller’s government ID, tax ID, bank account information, and contact information, according to the information.

“Transparent marketplaces are safer marketplaces, and consumers should be provided with basic identifying information about those who sell consumer products online,” added Sen. Durbin.

The bill also would require the online marketplace to supply a hotline number that would allow customers to report any suspicious marketplace activity. The Federal Trade Commission would implement the requirements and violations would be subject to civil penalties.

The Home Depot, the Household and Commercial Products Association, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the Toy Association, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, among many others, support the proposed legislation, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.