Ga. retail crime proposal targets online marketplaces |

ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers are trying to crack down on organized retail crime by regulating…

ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers are trying to crack down on organized retail crime by regulating online marketplaces.  

The “Inform Consumers Act,” SB 332, — which would provide protections for Georgians who unknowingly purchase stolen and counterfeit products from online marketplaces— has already received unanimous approval in the Senate.  

“Organized retail crime lies at the crossroads of public safety and business, and our top priority remains protecting Georgia lives and livelihoods,” Attorney General Chris Carr said. “Retailers are already dealing with the impacts of the pandemic, supply chain disruptions and a workforce shortage. Now they are fighting systematic looting and violent smash-and-grabs.”

The push comes after the Retail Industry Leaders Association sent a letter to Congress Dec. 9 urging lawmakers to support the federal INFORM (Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces) for Consumers Act  Consumers Act, stating it would make it easier for consumers to identify who they are buying from, and “harder for criminal elements to hide behind fake screen names and false business information to fence illicit products while evading law enforcement.”

SB 332 would require online marketplaces to verify high-volume third-party sellers and provide consumers with an email, phone number or direct electronic communication to contact sellers with questions or concerns about the products they are seeking to purchase.

Specifically, the bill would target “high volume” sellers who make $5,000 in a consecutive 12 months, selling more than 200 new or unused items in an online marketplace.

The online marketplace would be required to get a bank account and/or copies of government issued ID or business tax ID.  

“Last year, it cost consumers $69 billion dollars throughout our nation, and we’re trying to curb that by making sure we’re not facilitating the process of crime through online marketplaces,” said State Senator John Albers, R – Roswell, the bill’s sponsor. “eBay, Amazon, Facebook Marketplace are all platforms being used and then 100 more.”

Athens Rep. Houston Gaines added, ”I’m confident that once signed into law, the INFORM Consumers Act will provide an important tool for us to take on organized criminals and keep Georgians safe.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Mike Combs, director of Asset Protection for The Home Depot supported the bill noting an increase in retail crime negatively impacting the company, alongside Ben Dugan, director of Organized Retail Crime for CVS Health, who said an organized retail crime is reported at a CVS location every three minutes. 

“[SB 332] provides transparency that law enforcement needs to keep pace with the criminals that hide in the shadows offering stolen and counterfeit products on online marketplaces,” Dugan said.

The Attorney General would be able to bring civil action for violations of the law, according to the proposed Georgia bill, which awaits a House vote.