Chairman Rockefeller Urges House Passage of Bipartisan, Consumer Protection Bill

December 14, 2010

Chairman RockefellerWASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today urged the U.S. House of Representatives to vote in favor of a critical, bipartisan consumer protection bill that would save Americans hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I remain hopeful that the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act will be sent to President Obama to be signed into law before the end of the year,” Chairman Rockefeller said. “I introduced this bill to put an end to a set of deceptive online marketing practices that have already cost American consumers more than a billion dollars in unauthorized charges. As more Americans turn to the Internet to shop, Congress must do its part to ensure they are not scammed while trying to make legitimate purchases. The 35 million people who were scammed by these deceptive practices would be surprised to learn that any Member of the House of Representatives would not support this common sense legislation to slam the door on a billion dollar scam against American online shoppers. I urge my colleagues in the House to support this bill.”

S. 3386, the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, unanimously passed the Senate in November and was sent to the House for consideration. The House is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow.

Key Background Information on the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act:

In 2009, the Senate Commerce Committee launched an investigation into three companies—Affinion, Vertrue and Webloyalty—that used aggressive online sales tactics to enroll consumers in services without their consent.

The Committee’s investigation found that these companies bilked millions of Americans out of more than one billion dollars by partnering with hundreds of legitimate websites that were willing to share their customers’ billing information, including credit and debit card numbers, for financial gain. More information can be found here.

Following this landmark investigation, Chairman Rockefeller introduced the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, to put an end to these deceptive online sales tactics once and for all. The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and George LeMieux (R-Fla.). It will protect online shoppers by:

  • Prohibiting companies like Affinion, Vertrue and Webloyalty from using misleading post-transaction advertisements by requiring them to clearly disclose the terms of their offers, and to obtain billing information, including full credit or debit card numbers, directly from consumers.
  • Prohibiting Internet retailers and other commercial websites (“initial merchants”) from transferring a consumer’s billing information, including credit and debit card numbers, to post-transaction third party sellers, like Affinion, Vertrue and Webloyalty.
  • Requiring companies that use “negative options” on the Internet to meet certain minimum disclosure and enrollment requirements, so consumers will not end up paying recurring fees for goods and services they did not intend to purchase. 

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Chairman Rockefeller’s bill will save Americans hundreds of millions of dollars by stopping deceptive online sales practices.