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Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) joined with the Buy Safe America Coalition, a diverse group of retailers, consumer groups, wholesaler-distributors and manufacturers, to support and advance the INFORM Consumers Act. Introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 23, the legislation is designed to protect consumers from counterfeit and stolen products sold online, which has become a growing problem.
During the pandemic, U.S. e-commerce grew by 44 percent as more families shopped online, according to Digital Commerce 360, a news site covering Internet retailers. At the same time, criminal networks targeted unsuspecting customers with the sale of stolen, counterfeit, expired, dangerous and defective products.
The INFORM Consumers Act, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), would modernize consumer protection laws and require online retail marketplaces to collect and verify basic business information from sellers, in addition to requiring high-volume sellers to provide contact information to consumers. The legislation would help deter the online sale of counterfeit goods by anonymous sellers and prevent organized retail crime rings from stealing items from stores to resell those items in bulk online.
"PMI members care deeply about the safety and authenticity of their brands and products," said PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole. "Our members invest millions of dollars to design, test and produce high performing products that comply with federal, state and local health and safety standards. Unfortunately, those efforts are undermined by current gaps in the law that allow stolen and counterfeit plumbing products to be sold on online marketplaces."
PMI looks forward to continuing its work with federal lawmakers and the coalition to advance the INFORM Consumers Act, which will provide the transparency necessary to making it harder and less profitable to market and sell illicit goods online, Stackpole added. PMI and its plumbing manufacturing members would like to see an end to the unlawful sale of counterfeit plumbing products as well as plumbing products being stolen from big box stores, retailers, hardware stores, and others.
"Counterfeit plumbing appliances and components can pose health and safety risks to consumers who unknowingly purchase them. Counterfeit products also undermine the North American system of codes, standards, testing and certifications put in place to protect consumers' health and safety," Stackpole said.
More information about the growing problem of stolen and counterfeit goods and solutions to better protect consumers and businesses can be found at www.BuySafeAmerica.org.