Retailers call on Congress to crack down on online sales of stolen and counterfeit goods

A coalition of major retailers is calling on Congress to take action to tackle the online sale of stolen and counterfeit goods, which has coincided with an increase in robberies in major cities.

The chief executives of more than 20 companies wrote a letter Thursday to congressional leaders asking them to take action against the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods online, highlighting the impact of organized crime on the online shopping market.

“As millions of Americans have undoubtedly seen on the news in recent weeks and months, retail establishments of all kinds have seen a significant increase in organized crime in communities across the country,” indicates the letter.

“While we are constantly investing in people, policies and innovative technologies to deter theft, criminals are taking advantage of the anonymity of the internet and the inability of some marketplaces to verify their sellers. This trend has made businesses retail a target for increased theft, injury to legitimate businesses that are forced to compete with unscrupulous sellers, and has dramatically increased consumer exposure to unsafe and dangerous counterfeit products,” he adds.

The letter was addressed to the President Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Senate will receive a briefing on Ukraine and Russia on Thursday The Super Bowl of hypocrisy comes to California as the homeless go into hiding The promise of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress MORE (D-California), Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden’s ‘New Political Order’ The Hill’s Morning Report – Democrats sense opportunity with SCOTUS vacancy Schumer finds moment of unity in Supreme Court fight MORE (DN.Y.), parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress pledge Rhode Island State Treasurer candidate for Langevin’s US House seat McConnell aims to avoid GOP drama over Trump MORE (R-California) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress threatened to miss shutdown deadline Biden Cotton’s ‘new political order’ says it will keep an ‘open mind’ on Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, but doubts GOP will support MORE (R- Ky.). Senior executives from CVS Health, AutoZone, Best Buy, Home Depot, Kroger, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Target signed the letter, among others.

A number of smash-and-grab crimes have taken place in stores and malls in major metropolitan areas, particularly in San Francisco and Chicago, around Thanksgiving and Black Friday, when customers flocked to stores. to buy gifts for the holiday season.

Experts have told The Hill that the surge in online shopping amid the pandemic has, in part, driven the rise of organized crime in retail. As more people stay home to protect themselves from COVID-19, retail organized crime perpetrators see an opportunity to sell stolen goods to a wider audience.

Members of the House and Senate have in recent months introduced versions of the Integrity, Notice, and Fairness of Online Retail Markets for Consumers Act, which aims to tackle the online sale of products stolen, counterfeit and dangerous consumer goods by increasing transparency.

Specifically, the legislation — which is backed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — calls for online retail marketplaces to confirm the identity of “high-volume third-party sellers” who some say will help keep people out. to pay for stolen products online and prevent sellers from putting counterfeit products on the market.

Leaders endorsed the bicameral bill, writing that it is “a simple, bipartisan measure that will increase online transparency for all markets, making it easier for consumers to identify who they are buying from and making harder for criminal elements to hide behind fake screen names and fake business information to evade illicit proceeds while avoiding law enforcement.”

“This legislation has united retailers, consumer groups, manufacturers, law enforcement and anyone who is serious about stopping the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods being sold online,” they added.

The letter writes that “it is time for Congress to modernize our consumer safety laws so that consumers, retail workers, and businesses are not the targets of organized crime and dangerous counterfeit products.”

“Implementing basic transparency and verification protocols is essential and will finally expose criminals who sell stolen, counterfeit and dangerous products to consumers,” he adds.

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David A. Albanese