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On-line auctions unregulated by PSC

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Public Service Commission has released information advising North Dakotans about its regulatory authority over certain types of auctions.

For public auctions, the auctioneer and auction clerk must be licensed by the PSC, but the law specifically exempts auctions that occur exclusively via the internet, also known as internet auctions, from the commission’s jurisdiction.

An auctioneer licensed by the PSC is required to have a surety bond filed with the commission, but if they are conducting an internet auction, the bond would offer no protection to the buyer or seller. If the auction is offering both online and in-person bids, or is entirely in-person bidding, that would be a regulated auction and the bond protection would apply.

Increased access to technology and restrictions due to COVID-19 have caused many auctioneers to change how they conduct business. It is not uncommon for auctions to include an option for bidding online, and in some cases, the auction is entirely held online. It’s important for shoppers to understand that if the auction is being held exclusively online, that auction is not under the PSC’s jurisdiction.

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