Leading retail CEOs appeal to Congress for help amid rising U.S. retail theft

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The chief executives of 20 major U.S. retailers called on Congress on Thursday, to curb growing organized retail theft across the country.

In a letter to congressional leaders, members of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) said they are worried "about the growing impact organized retail crime is having on the communities we proudly serve."


The letter was signed by prominent CEOs of Best Buy, Home Depot, Target and Foot Locker among others.

It calls on Congress to pass the Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act. The act was introduced in October and would modernize consumer protection laws.

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"Retailers have made significant investments to combat organized retail crime, but as they note in today's letter, criminals will continue these brazen thefts as long as they are able to anonymously sell their stolen goods via online marketplaces," said RILA President Brian Dodge.

"Fortunately, there is a growing consensus among business leaders, law enforcement, and a bipartisan group of policymakers that the INFORM Consumers Act is an important and appropriate step to stemming the tide. Deterring these crimes starts with making it harder for thieves to sell stolen goods online. We urge Congress to seize this opportunity to help protect communities, families, and consumers."


While the RILA admits there is "no simple answer" to solving organized retail crime, it says greater transparency for third-party marketplaces would discourage the sale of illegal goods and the use of "fake screen-names and false business information to fence illicit products while evading law enforcement."

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The INFORM Act would require online marketplaces to verify the identity of third-party sellers who are doing large volumes of business.

Business leaders have seen an uptick in retail theft in recent months. The RILA says current laws don't offer enough protection to retailers and make it too easy for criminals to resell stolen merchandise online.

Criminals are capitalizing on the anonymity of the Internet and the failure of certain marketplaces to verify their sellers. This trend has made retail businesses a target for increasing theft," reads the letter.

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