WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today applauded Senate passage of the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, his bill to protect consumers from deceptive online sales tactics.
“This is a victory for American consumers,” Chairman Rockefeller said. “This bipartisan legislation provides new standards that make sure businesses can’t bill online shoppers for services they did not want to buy. Last year, the Committee learned that unscrupulous businesses used offers of rebates and rewards as a smokescreen to pick the pockets of millions of online shoppers. It’s not the way business should be done in America – and it will end. We’re slamming the door on this billion dollar scam. I want to thank Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison for helping to secure final passage of this important bill.”
Key Background Information:
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.