State is working to create a safe market for Oklahoma buyers

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A growing flood of counterfeit and stolen goods is putting unwary online shoppers in Oklahoma at risk. House Bill 1627 would curb the flow of these dangerous products, requiring e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay to verify basic information of high-volume third-party sellers in their marketplaces.

Oklahoma ranks 11th in the nation in theft per capita, while nearly $1 billion worth of merchandise is stolen from Oklahoma State retailers each year. All kinds of stolen and counterfeit products, from over-the-counter drugs to power tools, are sold to unsuspecting consumers, costing the US economy an estimated $509 billion a year. Many of these stolen or counterfeit items are sold or “fenced” through online vendors – where it can be difficult for law enforcement to track and investigate.

Without this legislation, consumers have very little recourse when they are victims of counterfeit products. The danger is very real. Last fall, during an interim study on this issue, a Toy Association representative showed lawmakers two seemingly identical magnetic pads. With little effort, she opened the counterfeit block, purchased from a market vendor, exposing the tiny magnets that could easily be ingested by toddlers. The branded article was virtually indestructible by the panelist or legislators.

HB1627 would require online marketplaces to verify certain information regarding high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products. Privacy exemptions and safeguards to protect those selling their homes were included in the bill to protect small business owners. When HB1627 is enacted, online marketplaces will be transparent about the consumer products they sell and will be required to disclose third-party seller contact information to consumers.

Kiley Raper with the Oklahoma State Retail Association in Oklahoma City.

Retail theft is becoming more aggressive and violent. Seventy-six percent of retailers said a criminal physically assaulted and threatened to use a weapon against an associate. Just last month, local media released security camera video of a Yukon hardware store manager who was threatened with a hammer as he tried to block the criminal’s exit.

HB1627 is modeled exactly on the federal INFORM Consumers Act (HR5502), which is supported by retailers, consumer groups and online marketplaces. Both bills protect all sizes of businesses by providing a safe and transparent marketplace. Bill HB 1627 is part of a multi-pronged plan by Oklahoma retailers to combat public safety and retail theft. Adoption of HB1627 is an essential step in providing consumers with confidence that they are shopping safely at marketplace sites, fair competition with brick-and-mortar retailers, and a safer workplace for workers. front-line retailers.

Kiley Raper specializes in influencing public policy and federal and state legislation through coalition building, advocacy and media relations. She is executive vice president of Pearson Public Affairs.

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