PMI Joins Effort to Block Online Counterfeiting

MCLEAN, VA Plumbing Manufacturers International, the trade organization that represents the nation’s leading plumbing products suppliers, has joined with the Buy Safe America Coalition, a diverse group of retailers, consumer groups, wholesaler-distributors and manufacturers, to support the INFORM Consumers Act, PMI officials announced.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate in March, the INFORM Consumers Act is designed to protect consumers from counterfeit and stolen products that are sold online, a problem that has grown significantly in recent months.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. e-commerce grew by approximately 44% as more families shopped online, according to PMI officials. At the same time, criminal networks targeted unsuspecting customers with the sale of stolen, counterfeit, expired, dangerous and defective products, PMI officials said.

The INFORM Consumers Act would modernize consumer protection laws and require online retail marketplaces to collect and verify basic business information from sellers, in addition to requiring high-volume sellers to provide contact information to consumers. The legislation would also help deter the online sale of counterfeit goods by anonymous sellers and prevent organized retail crime rings from stealing items from stores to resell those items in bulk online, the McLean, VA-based PMI said.

“PMI members care deeply about the safety and authenticity of their brands and products,” said PMI CEO/executive director Kerry Stackpole. “Our members invest millions of dollars to design, test and produce high performing products that comply with federal, state and local health and safety standards. Unfortunately, those efforts are undermined by current gaps in the law that allow stolen and counterfeit plumbing products to be sold on online marketplaces.”

PMI said that its plumbing manufacturing members would like to see an end to the unlawful sale of counterfeit plumbing products, as well as plumbing products being stolen from big box stores, retailers, hardware stores and others.

“Counterfeit plumbing appliances and components can pose health and safety risks to consumers who unknowingly purchase them,” Stackpole said. “Counterfeit products also undermine the North American system of codes, standards, testing and certifications put in place to protect consumers’ health and safety,” he added.

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