Asserting Your Rights During an FTC Interview or Deposition

Asserting Your Rights During an FTC Interview or Deposition

Dealing with the Federal Trade Commission can be intimidating. You may feel pressured to answer questions in an interview or deposition, even if you don’t want to. But it’s important to remember that you have rights. Here’s some advice on asserting your rights politely but firmly during an FTC investigation.

Know Your Rights

The first step is understanding your basic rights. The Fifth Amendment gives you the right not to incriminate yourself. You can politely decline to answer questions by saying, “On advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer at this time.” You also have the right to speak with an attorney at any time, even during an interview. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say, “I’d like to speak with my attorney before answering that question.”

In a deposition, you can also object to questions that are harassing, overly broad, vague, ambiguous, or privileged. Simply state, “Objection” followed by a brief explanation like “harassing” or “privileged.” Your attorney can provide more specifics on making objections.

Prepare in Advance

Before an FTC interview or deposition, take time to prepare with your attorney. Understand the purpose of the interview and which topics you should or should not discuss. Review any documents you may be questioned about. Knowing what to expect will help you stay calm and assert your rights appropriately.

Bring an Attorney

Having your attorney present provides invaluable support. They can object to inappropriate questions, advise you when to decline answering, and ensure your rights are protected. If the FTC insists on an interview before your attorney can attend, politely decline and reschedule. You have the right to counsel – use it.

Stay Calm

It’s natural to feel anxious in an investigative interview. Take deep breaths to stay calm and think before responding. Don’t feel rushed – pause to collect your thoughts if needed. If you start to feel overwhelmed, reassert your right to take a break or speak with counsel.

Tell the Truth

Lying to federal investigators can lead to criminal charges. Even if the truth seems damaging, it’s better to be honest than risk prosecution for false statements. For sensitive topics, say you can’t recall or decline to answer. Don’t guess or speculate – stick to facts you know.

Avoid Chitchat

Investigators may try to bond with friendly small talk before questioning. Understand this is a tactic – don’t let your guard down. Be polite but don’t discuss anything case-related until your attorney arrives. The same goes for any breaks during the interview.

Take Notes

Take detailed notes during the interview about what topics were discussed and what information you revealed. Compare with the investigator’s notes later to ensure accuracy. Having a record helps your attorney understand what transpired.

Get Copies

After a deposition, your attorney can request a copy of the transcript. Review it for any errors that should be corrected. For interviews, ask for the investigator’s notes or any written statement you provided. It’s crucial to review these for accuracy.

Don’t Discuss the Investigation

FTC investigations are confidential. Do not discuss the details, not even with close colleagues. Stray comments could waive privilege or be used against you. Let your attorney handle all communications about the case.

Correct Any Misstatements

If you realize you misspoke or provided incorrect information, contact your attorney immediately to correct it. It’s much better to fix mistakes upfront rather than let them go unaddressed.

Get Advice on Next Steps

After the interview or deposition, debrief with your attorney about what was discussed and your next steps. They can advise if you need to provide additional documents, make clarifications, or take any other actions. Follow your attorney’s guidance to resolution.

Asserting your rights in an FTC investigation can feel daunting. But staying calm, following your attorney’s advice, and politely declining to answer when needed will get you through it. Don’t let investigators pressure you into waiving your rights. With preparation and a few simple techniques, you can stand up for yourself while also cooperating appropriately.


[1] Surviving an FTC Interview: Asserting Your Rights – Federal Criminal Lawyers

[2] Surviving an FTC Deposition: Preparation Tips – Federal Criminal Lawyers

[3] Protocol for Coordination in Merger Investigations – Federal Trade Commission

[4] Respondents’ Motion to Re-Open and Compel Deposition Testimony of Amy Brannon-Quale – Federal Trade Commission

[5] Using Consumer Reports: What Landlords Need to Know | Federal Trade Commission

[6] Discovery is not a Game – Federal Trade Commission