In the old days, criminals had to bring their loot to a “fence,” someone who could launder the stolen goods and sell them. Nowadays, thieves just sell their stolen wares online, oftentimes on sites you know and use, like Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Ebay. Now big retailers are trying to dry up the market for stolen goods by pushing Congress to pass the INFORM for Consumers Act. The Post Millennial reports:
In a letter addressed to Senate and House leaders on Thursday, the Retail Industry Leaders Association urged Congress to pass legislation protecting buyers from illicit products being sold online either as counterfeits, or being sold after being stolen from stores.
“Leading retailers are concerned about the growing impact organized retail crime is having on the communities we proudly serve, which is why we strongly support the bipartisan and bicameral Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act,” the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Sen. Mitch McConnell.
“This important legislation will modernize our consumer protection laws to safeguard families and communities from the sale of illicit products and we urge its quick passage,” the letter added.
The letter noted that there has been “a significant uptick in organized crime in communities across the nation,” seen in the form of large-scale smash-and-grab robberies.
“While we constantly invest in people, policies, and innovative technology to deter theft, criminals are capitalizing on the anonymity of the Internet and the failure of certain marketplaces to verify their sellers. This trend has made retail businesses a target for increasing theft, hurt legitimate businesses who are forced to compete against unscrupulous sellers, and has greatly increased consumer exposure to unsafe and dangerous counterfeit products,” the letter continued.
While noting that there is no simple answer to stopping organized retail crime or the sale of counterfeit items, the association stated that transparency is key in stemming the buying of these items.
“If a customer buys a product from a local retail storefront or ecommerce site and it is broken or otherwise defective, the consumer knows exactly who to contact. There is accountability. In the current environment, criminal networks and unscrupulous businesses have exploited a system that protects their anonymity to sell unsafe, stolen, or counterfeit products with little legal recourse. This lack of transparency on particular third-party marketplaces has allowed criminal activity to fester,” the letter states.
The association urged Congress to pass the INFORM Consumers Act, which they state will increase transparency and make it easier for consumers to identify who they are purchasing from.
Action Line: Be wary about buying products online from retailers you aren’t familiar with. If a deal seems too good to be true, it might be stolen goods you’re looking at. Your best option is to shop locally at the Main Street stores you have known since you were a kid growing up. The familiar faces behind the counter will be thankful to see you, and you’ll know that you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for. The vendors and retailers you visit are an important part of your “island life.”
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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