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U.S. Congress Enacts Law to Curb Online Retail Fraud

The INFORM Consumers Act: Aiming to enhance transparency and accountability in E-commerce platforms

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In a bid to combat the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods online, the U.S. Congress has enacted the INFORM Consumers Act. This law, which came into force on June 27, 2023, is under the purview of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It obliges e-commerce platforms to gather and authenticate certain financial and identification details from high-volume third-party vendors.

The legislation also necessitates e-commerce platforms to reveal the vendor's name, address, and contact details on product listings or in confirmation messages. This measure aims to foster greater transparency between the purchaser and the actual vendor. If high-volume third-party vendors fail to provide the necessary information, they are to be immediately barred from the platform, and consumers must be alerted about suspicious activity.

The National Retail Federation (NRF), a major retail trade group, has been advocating for more stringent laws to combat organized retail crime (ORC). According to the NRF, nearly 45% of ORC groups have used online marketplaces to peddle stolen or counterfeit goods in the past two years. The retail industry estimates that ORC activities led to a staggering loss of $94.5 billion in retail sales in 2022. The NRF is also urging Congress to pass the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act, aimed at bolstering resources and coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

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