15 Sep 23

How to Obtain Your FTC Investigative Records

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Last Updated on: 16th September 2023, 03:34 pm

How to Obtain Your FTC Investigative Records

If the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has investigated you or your company, you may want to get copies of their records. This can help you understand what the FTC looked into and their findings. Here’s how to request your FTC investigative records using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

What is the FTC?

The FTC is a U.S. government agency. It enforces laws about business competition and consumer protection. The FTC investigates things like false advertising, identity theft, and anticompetitive mergers. When the FTC thinks a law may have been broken, it can start an investigation.

What is FOIA?

FOIA is a law that lets the public request records from federal agencies. It was passed in 1966 and went into effect in 1967. FOIA allows access to government documents even if they haven’t been published. There are some exceptions, like for classified records. But FOIA gives people the right to get many agency records.

Who can request FTC records under FOIA?

Any person can request FTC records under FOIA. You don’t have to be the subject of the records. News organizations, companies, and private citizens use FOIA to get information from government agencies. As long as the records aren’t protected for privacy or security reasons, the FTC must provide them to anyone who asks.

How do I make a FOIA request to the FTC?

You can make a FOIA request to the FTC by email, fax, or postal mail. Be sure to include:

  • Your name, mailing address, and contact information
  • As much detail as possible about the records you want
  • Whether you want to inspect the records in person or get copies mailed to you

It’s helpful to explain why you think the FTC has the records. For example, provide the name and date of any investigation or enforcement action. You can also give the FTC FOIA case number if you have it.

The FTC recommends submitting FOIA requests online through their website. This allows you to track the status of your request. But you can also fax or mail your letter to:

Freedom of Information Act Request
Office of General Counsel
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
Fax: (202) 326-2477

What records can I request under FOIA?

You can request any FTC records, including:

  • Investigation files and reports
  • Internal memos and correspondence
  • Enforcement action case materials
  • Consumer complaint data
  • Economic studies and surveys conducted by the FTC

The FTC won’t release some types of records protected under FOIA exemptions. This includes confidential business information, trade secrets, and private personal information. The FTC will notify you if any part of your request is denied.

How long does the FTC have to respond?

By law, the FTC must respond to your FOIA request within 20 business days. This deadline can be extended by 10 more days in certain circumstances. If extra processing time is needed, the FTC must explain why.

The FTC receives thousands of FOIA requests each year, so delays sometimes happen. Complex requests involving lots of records take more time. The FTC may need to notify third parties and allow them to object to releasing certain records.

How much does it cost?

There is no fee to submit a FOIA request, but the FTC may charge for copying and reviewing the records you request. The FTC will estimate the costs and may require prepayment before processing your request. Here are the current FOIA fees:

  • Search time – $61 per hour after 2 free hours
  • Photocopying – $0.15 per page
  • Computer printouts – actual cost
  • CDs or DVDs – $4.00 each

You may be able to get a fee waiver if the records are in the public interest. Fee waivers are granted case-by-case.

How will I get the records?

You can choose to inspect FTC records in-person at their office in Washington D.C. during normal business hours. Most people have the records mailed or emailed instead. The FTC will provide records in your preferred format if possible. For example, you can get paper copies, digital files on CD/DVD, or documents sent via email.

Can I get my request processed faster?

You can ask for expedited processing if there is an urgent need for the records. For example, if the records relate to an imminent court deadline or a matter of public health or safety. The FTC decides based on the need you demonstrate.

You should explain your reason for expedited processing when you submit your request. The FTC normally responds to expedited requests within 10 calendar days.

What if my request is denied?

If some or all of your FOIA request is denied, the FTC must explain why. Reasons may include:

  • The records are exempt from disclosure
  • The FTC does not have the records you want
  • Your request was not specific enough

You can appeal a denial within 90 days. Send a written appeal letter to the FTC General Counsel explaining why you believe the records should be released. The FTC has 20 business days to respond to your appeal. If denied again, you may be able to file a FOIA lawsuit in federal court.

What are my rights under the Privacy Act?

The Privacy Act is a law that allows people to access federal records about themselves. If you request FTC investigative records about yourself as an individual, cite both FOIA and the Privacy Act. This ensures you get all records the FTC has about you.

The Privacy Act requires verifying your identity before releasing your records. So you may need to provide a notarized signature or other proof of who you are.


Here are some tips when drafting your FOIA request to the FTC:

  • Be as specific as possible about the records you want
  • Give date ranges if applicable
  • List names of key people related to the records
  • Provide FTC case numbers or enforcement action details
  • Ask for a fee waiver if the records benefit the public
  • Keep your request focused – don’t ask for too much at once

FOIA gives you the right to access FTC records, but the agency still has discretion. Well-written, targeted requests are more likely to get fulfilled. Understanding your rights under FOIA and the Privacy Act helps ensure you get the FTC records you need.


Freedom of Information Act Request Office of General Counsel Federal Trade Commission 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20580 Frequently Asked Questions: FOIA

Freedom of Information Act

Make a FOIA Request

Case Document Search

Legal Library Cases and Proceedings

Office of Inspector General Investigative Files–FTC (FTC-I-7)