Prevent Deception and Fraud in Online Retail

Target: Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senate Majority Leader

Goal: Support effort to provide online consumers with more information about the retailers selling them goods.

You may have gotten messages recently about the supposed dangers and invasions of privacy coming for online retailers. These messages claim to stand up for the “little guy” against big box retail and the messages inevitably come from major digital marketplaces seeking to consolidate their own iron grip on power. The target in question is a new bill making its way through Congress: a proposal with bipartisan support that while making the lives of these marketplaces a little more complex would also better safeguard millions of consumers.

The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act (INFORM) at its core demands more transparency and accountability from businesses that sell products or services in massive quantities online. The sale of counterfeit products, hazardous products, and otherwise illegal products has flourished on the web, and often customers have no recourse to go after these bad actors who hide behind a veil of secrecy. This bill will simply require sellers on platforms like eBay or Amazon who make 200 or more sales within a year to provide basic contact information for consumers, such as their name, business address, email address, and business phone number. These retailers would also be required to provide a hotline to deal with complaints from consumers.

Such steps are no different than the standards to which we hold traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Many of the attacks have claimed that personal information would be disclosed for sellers who may not have a traditional storefront address for their businesses. Special considerations are given for such individuals, however; they would not be forced to provide private information like their home addresses.

Sign the petition below to urge lawmakers to send this important piece of online consumer protection over the finish line.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Schumer,

A sizeable percentage of Americans have a story about a bad experience with an online purchase. In the worst cases, these stories include encounters with stolen or dangerous products. For too long, individuals acting in bad faith have been allowed to abuse the freedom and relative anonymity provided by the world wide web. The INFORM Consumers Act, a bill introduced in a bipartisan way with bipartisan support, represents a too-rare opportunity for Congress to unite behind meaningful change.

The lobbying from powerful online forces against this bill is strong, but consumers have waited long enough for the same protections in the online sphere that they are afforded at traditional retail outlets. Please bring this important effort to a vote with expedience.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich

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One Comment

  1. Gabriela Torres says:

    That’s just impossible – educate people to check on the source’s reliability before they make a purchase which usually is ‘too good to be true’!

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