Rep. Kennedy introduces legislation to curtail growing threat of online sale of fraudulent goods
STATE HOUSE —House Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) has introduced legislation to curtail the growing threat of the online sale of counterfeit and stolen goods, which has become a $509 billion criminal enterprise.
The INFORM (Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces) Consumers Act (2022-H 7013) would require high-volume third-party sellers, selling consumer goods on online marketplaces, to provide certain information to the marketplaces and disclose certain information to consumers on product listings.
“While online marketplaces have been successful in connecting legitimate small businesses with new customers, they also lack oversight, which has been exploited by a growing cadre of criminals selling fraudulent goods,” said Representative Kennedy. “Quite often consumers purchasing the products are not even aware that the merchandise is stolen, unsafe, improperly and deceptively labeled, expired or outright banned in the U.S. by regulators.”
The legislation would require online marketplaces to collect and verify third-party sellers’ government ID, tax ID, bank account information and contact information and require high-volume sellers to disclose contact information to consumers.
“Online consumers deserve the same transparency from online marketplaces that they have come to expect from their brick-and-mortar counterparts,” said Representative Kennedy. “Removing the anonymity from online transactions will serve to increase accountability.”
For individuals simply selling a few items out of their homes, these requirements would not immediately apply, and would only be enforced after reaching more than 200 transactions and $5,000 in annual revenue. These requirements only apply on new or unused goods, so individuals looking to clean out their closet or sell used furniture would be exempt altogether. Home-based sellers would not be required to divulge extensive personal information, but instead only would need to provide consumers with basic contact information if a consumer has a problem with an item they purchased.
The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly), John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln), Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland), Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73 (Newport, Middletown), Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) and Evan Patrick Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), has been referred to the House Corporations Committee.