Walgreens, CVS Health, Ulta Beauty, and Philips have joined the Buy Safe America Coalition to support efforts to combat organized retail crime (ORC) and protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores also joined existing members from the industry including the Personal Care Products Council and Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
Sales of stolen, fake, and fraudulent beauty and personal care products have long been a target for criminals using online marketplaces, but the problem has worsened in recent months as more Americans shop online. According to brand protection experts, counterfeit beauty and personal care products have spiked 56 percent this year alone.
“As a leader among retailers in combating online marketplace fraud, we take a zero-tolerance approach to this type of activity,” said John Liesching, vice president of asset analytics and insights for CVS Health. “While we are proud of the investments and the progress we have made, stolen and counterfeit products in online marketplaces remain too widespread. We recognize the importance of working together to protect consumers across the country.”
According to a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security, counterfeit cosmetics and other beauty products can contain hazardous ingredients such as arsenic, mercury, aluminum, or lead, which ultimately could put consumer health and safety at risk.
“The issue of fraudulent sales is about much more than protecting our brand and products we offer—it’s about protecting our associates and our guests whose safety is our highest priority,” said Mary Dillon, CEO, Ulta Beauty. “Addressing these crimes has been a priority at Ulta Beauty for some time and one way to move the needle is impacting the ability to profit from sales of stolen goods. Establishing transparency and accountability in online marketplaces will help bring an end to this growing problem and we are proud to join this coalition’s efforts.” Ulta Beauty recently set up an ORC team within its loss prevention organization to focus on theft and fraud.
The coalition is urging Congress to pass the INFORM Consumers Act to modernize consumer protection laws by requiring online marketplaces to collect and verify basic seller information and require sellers to provide that information to consumers.
“Walgreens is pleased to join the Buy Safe America Coalition in support of advancing the INFORM Consumers Act to bring transparency and accountability to today’s digital marketplaces in order to remove incentives for retail theft and help make our communities safer,” said Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance. “Now, more than ever, consumers deserve to know who they are buying products from online, in order to make safe and informed purchasing decisions for themselves and their families.”
“Quality, integrity, and trust are integral to Philips brand, and we strive to ensure these qualities are omnipresent for consumers along their entire purchasing journey,” said Selina Thurer, business marketing and sales leader for Philips Personal Health, North America. “Many consumers can immediately spot if a product online purchased does not meet Philips stringent brand integrity standards, however, we want the shopping experience to be friction-free. It will take partnerships from the largest retailers and online marketplaces to support these efforts, so customers shopping online have the confidence that the products they purchase are those that they have come to trust.”
“From individual shoplifters to sophisticated criminal enterprises, organized retail crime hurts the businesses that line Main Street in communities across the country,” said Steven C. Anderson, president and CEO, National Association of Chain Drug Stores. “By shining a light and bringing more transparency to these online marketplaces, we can prevent the sale of stolen health and wellness products. We applaud the efforts to give law enforcement the tools they need to bring down these bad actors and help keep businesses and consumers safe.”
The Buy Safe America Coalition recently announced a similar effort related to children’s toy sellers and manufacturers. Visit BuySafeAmerica.org for more information about the growing problem of stolen and counterfeit goods and solutions to better protect consumers and businesses.