FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 6, 2022
CONTACT: Amanda Bevis (202) 680-9262
Tallahassee, FL – Senator Dennis Baxley and Representative Jackie Toledo this session filed SB 944 and HB 1227 to prevent organized retail crime and inform and protect consumers from the sale of fraudulent goods in Florida.
“The purchase of stolen goods poses significant safety threats and quality concerns for consumers,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “We are thankful for the leadership of Senator Baxley and Representative Toledo and their efforts to hinder illegal activity across online marketplaces. This legislation not only protects consumers but also inhibits organized retail crime.”
Online marketplace platforms have been misused by criminals to anonymously sell stolen merchandise and illicit goods to unsuspecting consumers in Florida. Currently, most online platforms do not require identification and are not monitored for criminal activity. As a result, the online marketplace has attracted organized criminal networks to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.
“Unregulated online marketplaces have fueled the growth of organized retail crime rings,” stated Senator Dennis Baxley. “This legislation will punish those that seek to take advantage of consumers online. We must hold these criminals accountable.”
“Organized retail crime is a growing threat to communities around our country and we will not tolerate it here in Florida,” shared Representative Toledo. “This legislation cracks down on crime and provides consumer protections to Floridians when shopping online. With HB 1227, we will fight to terminate the online black market of criminals profiting off Floridians and Florida businesses. These criminals are often linked to other unregulated crimes including the illegal drug trade and human trafficking. With greater online marketplace protections, we can help to shut down criminal gang activity in Florida.”
The National Retail Federation released a 2021 survey stating that 69% of retailers saw an increase in organized retail crime over the past year. Sixty-five percent of retailers reported an increase in aggressive and violent gang activity than in years past.
Florida businesses suffer thousands of dollars in losses and damage at the hands of growing criminal rings. Thieves utilize “smash and grab” and other violent tactics on retail storefronts. Local retailers are left with physical damage to storefronts and grave concern for the safety of employees and customers.
Florida consumers who purchase stolen goods through online marketplaces find themselves victims of fraud. The products available through third-party sellers can come without a guarantee, may be expired, damaged, tampered or even counterfeit.
SB 944 and HB 1227 will help ensure the safe purchase of quality goods online and aid consumers to identify and verify the third-party seller on online marketplaces.
SB 944 and HB 1227 will strengthen consumer protections similar to the federal legislation known as the Integrity Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act.
The legislation will require online marketplace sellers to provide basic contact information including:
- A valid email and phone number;
- A government-issued photo ID; or
- Tax documentation with a physical address and tax identification number; and
- Bank account information.
In 2021, Arkansas enacted similar consumer protections into law. More than a dozen other states are considering similar policies.
ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year.