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The INFORM Consumers Act: Is It Mandatory for Retailers to Out You?

Hey everyone! LFK Marketing here with a breakdown on Sen. Bill Cassidy’s INFORM (Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces) Consumers Act (Senate Bill 3431), and how it may(not) affect your online business.

Please note: I am not an attorney. I encourage you to speak to an attorney if you seek legal advice regarding your business.

If you’re a business owner on Etsy, eBay, or other major online retailers, you likely received a fear-mongering email telling you that online retailers are now compelled to share your personal information to the public. Well, that’s not entirely true.

First, let’s break down the Bill:

“[requires] online marketplaces to collect, verify, and disclose certain information regarding high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products to inform consumers.”

What Information may be shared to the public?

  • Bank Account Number or Payee
  • Legal Name
  • Physical Address
  • Tax ID
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • There are some exceptions, more on this below

Who does it affect?
“high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products”

Who is considered “high-volume”?
Vendors who have made at least 200 sales totaling to at least $5000USD over a 1-year period.

Who is considered a “third-party seller”?
A vendor who sells a product under a brand name that they do not work for, own, or directly represent.

For example: You purchase Maybelline Mascara and resell it (new or used) under the same brand name. Assuming you do not work for or represent Maybelline, you are considered a third-party seller of Maybelline.

But what if I sell it from my personal store under a different name?
Even if you sell the products under “Amazing Mascara Store”, if the product is labeled as Maybelline, you are still a third-party seller of Maybelline.

You are NOT considered a “third-party seller” if any of the following applies:

  • You re-brand the product and sell it under a new name. This applies, even if:

1. You don’t alter the product itself in any way, you just change the branding to “Jenny’s Mascara”.

2. You alter or use components of the product to create your product. As long as you sell that as “Amanda’s Mascara”, then you are not considered a third-party seller of Maybelline.

However, If you alter the product, label it as Maybelline (without expressed consent from the brand), and you sell it, you are creating a counterfeit product and you’re the one who this Bill is actually targeting.

So, what if I do this, but sell it from my personal store “Amazing Mascara Store”?
It’s still counterfeit; same thing applies.

So, what if this Bill does apply to my business?

If you are a legitimate third-party seller of a brand, your information likely is already public through that brand. Often, brands will have a “find a reseller near me” on their site.

But I don’t want my information public!
There are exceptions:

  • If your business does not have a physical address (you only have a residential street address) the online retailer cannot share your home address. At most, they can share your country and state.
  • If your business does not have a business phone number that isn’t your personal one, the online retailer cannot share your personal number.

If the above applies, the online retailer may only share an email address, and that can be whatever you’d like for it to be, as long as it’s a working email address.

Why did Etsy and eBay sensationalize this?
They’re dicks.

There is more to the Bill that I won’t get into in this post, for the sake of brevity. The INFORM Act is essentially a follow-up to the SHOP SAFE Act of 2020 which is actually good for online retailers and business owners.

For the vast majority of businesses the regulations do not apply, and their personal information will not be made public. If they do apply, you have options to protect your privacy.

LFK Marketing is run by L.F., a Google and HubSpot certified Digital Marketing Consultant, with specialized knowledge in helping businesses and brands navigate the crazy world of marketing.

I am a Google and HubSpot certified Digital Marketing Consultant.