COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new federal law that took effect in June provides consumers with more information about some of the most active sellers in online marketplaces, such as Amazon Marketplace and eBay. The INFORM Consumers Act – which stands for Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces – requires online marketplaces to provide the contact information for “high volume” third-party sellers on the seller’s product page in order confirmation messages and account transaction histories.

This information, in turn, allows consumers to research the company; report stolen, counterfeit or unsafe products; and/or contact the company directly. In general, a high-volume seller is one who logs more than 200 sales and grosses over $5,000 in the past year. Specifically, the marketplaces must share a qualifying seller’s complete name, physical address, and contact information (including a working phone number, working email address, or other methods of direct electronic messaging provided by the seller).

Those who fail to collect, verify, and disclose these details could face financial penalties. States also have enforcement authority.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “online marketplaces also must give shoppers a way to report suspicious conduct,” such as counterfeit merchandise, expired products, and items that look different than advertised.

For more information about the INFORM Consumers Act, including what action consumers can take if they suspect a violation, visit the FTC to read Informing Businesses about the INFORM Consumers Act.

When shopping on online marketplaces, consumers should:

  • Stick within the marketplace. One sign of a potential scam is a seller who wants to do business outside of the online marketplace. Businesses outside the marketplace might not be covered by the site operator’s consumer protections, and the operator might not be able to monitor the transaction in an effort to catch scammers.
  • Beware of unusual payment methods. Be wary of sellers who request payment by wire transfer, gift card, or other unusual methods. Try to steer clear of peer-to-peer payment systems. Popular services such as Venmo and Zelle may work well when transferring money to a close friend or family member, but a seller who wants you to use such a payment method should be a red flag to consumers. Different payment methods have varying levels of consumer protection against fraud, so do your research.
  • Recognize “overpayment” scams. A phony buyer may send you a check for more than the agreed-upon amount, ask you to deposit the check, and request that you give the extra money to a shipping agent. In the end, the check will not clear the bank, and you’ll be out of your money and merchandise. When buying merchandise, do not provide financial information such as your bank account number or Social Security number to a stranger.

Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.