15 Sep 23

How to Handle FTC Requests for Corporate Records

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Last Updated on: 2nd October 2023, 05:35 pm

How to Handle FTC Requests for Corporate Records

Dealing with a request from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for your company’s records can seem scary. But it doesn’t have to be! This article will walk you through what to expect and how to handle FTC requests in a calm, cooperative way.

What is the FTC?

The FTC is a government agency that enforces consumer protection and antitrust laws. Their goal is to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive business practices. The FTC has the power to investigate companies by requesting records and information related to potential violations of the law.

Why Did My Company Get an FTC Request?

There are a few common reasons why the FTC may request records from your company:

  • Your company is under investigation for a potential violation of consumer protection or antitrust laws
  • The FTC is conducting a study or research into an industry, and your company is part of that industry
  • Someone filed a complaint against your company with the FTC

Don’t panic if you get an FTC request! Many investigations don’t end up finding any wrongdoing. The FTC just wants to gather information.

What Kinds of Records Will the FTC Request?

The FTC may request a wide variety of records and information such as:

  • Marketing and promotional materials
  • Pricing and billing policies
  • Consumer complaints
  • Internal communications
  • Contracts with vendors or partners
  • Financial statements and accounting records

They want to gather a complete picture of your company’s operations, especially related to the specific investigation topic. Be prepared to provide a lot of documentation.

Responding to an FTC Request

If your company receives an official request from the FTC, here are some tips on responding:

  1. Don’t ignore it! Failing to respond can lead to legal action.
  2. Read the request carefully and make sure you understand what records they are asking for.
  3. Contact the FTC officer listed on the request to discuss the scope, timing, format, etc. They expect this call.
  4. Begin gathering the requested records as soon as possible.
  5. If you need more time, request an extension from the FTC officer.
  6. Hire a lawyer experienced with FTC investigations to assist you.
  7. Be cooperative, calm, and transparent in your interactions with the FTC.
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Producing Records to the FTC

Once you’ve gathered the requested records, here are some tips on producing them:

  • Organize records clearly, such as indexing and bookmarking PDFs.
  • Provide records electronically if possible – this is easier for the FTC.
  • Include a cover letter listing what you are providing.
  • Withhold or redact any confidential or privileged information and note what was withheld.
  • Keep copies of everything you produce.

The FTC may come back with additional requests or questions. Be prepared for multiple rounds of requests over months.

Confidentiality of Records

The FTC is required by law to keep confidential any records you produce that contain trade secrets or sensitive commercial information. However, some records may become public if used in an enforcement action. Talk to your lawyer about how to protect confidential info.

Common Concerns

It’s natural to feel anxious or defensive when dealing with a government investigation. Here are some common concerns and how to overcome them:

  • We have nothing to hide! – The FTC isn’t accusing you of anything yet. Focus on being cooperative.
  • This will ruin our reputation! – FTC investigations are not public. There’s no need to panic.
  • We can’t afford a lawyer! – Many lawyers will work on contingency or delayed payment plans.
  • They’re asking for too much! – You can negotiate the scope during your initial call.

In Conclusion

Receiving an FTC request for records can feel overwhelming at first. But by responding promptly, organizing information clearly, hiring legal help, and maintaining open communication, you can get through it in a calm and compliant way. The FTC does not view your company as guilty, so approach the request as an opportunity to demonstrate responsible business practices.


FTC Resources: