INDIANAPOLIS – Whenever you buy something online, there is a risk of getting something that’s counterfeit or stolen.
Most legitimate retailers and online sellers have safeguards against this, but a new law gives even more protection to you, the buyer. It’s called the Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM) Act.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the law says online marketplaces, like Amazon and eBay, must collect and verify certain financial and identifying information from high-volume third-party sellers. If you’ve ever had a hard time, contacting a seller about a delayed shipment, or some other problem, this law works to prevent that by making it easier for you to see their name, address, and contact information. It also requires sellers to make their products listing page available for viewing.
The law boils down to an effort to increase transparency, so you know more about who you are buying from and how to reach them if you have a problem.
It also comes with penalties for bad actors. Amazon, eBay, and other marketplaces will now be required to suspend a seller that doesn’t provide that contact information and product listing page. The marketplace must also offer a clear way for you to report any suspicious activity you may notice. And the individual seller can face penalties of $50 to $120 per violation, which can really add up when dealing with high volume.
The goal is to hit sellers in the wallet if they are misbehaving. It also means to discourage them from dealing with organized gangs of shoplifters, who often walk out of large stores with carts full of stolen goods that they plan to sell them online. Experts say that kind of organized retail crime is a $500 billion annual business.