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What Can You Do if Your Business is Under Federal Investigation?

— June 15, 2022

If you think you may be under federal investigation, it’s best to get legal advice immediately to protect yourself and your business interests.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have the power to investigate the practices of people, companies, and organizations. If they find any illegal activity or are suspicious of business practices, they can take many different steps.

Those who operate in an unregulated industry should be more financially conservative so that the business can meet its obligations during any potential crackdown. For example, establishing that money on hand does not cover policies that have been violated and building up reserves for any potential penalties.

You might not know if you are under investigation or not. You can’t find out from the government, and they don’t have a public list of who is under investigation. But there are some signs that you can look for to see if your business or practice is under federal investigation. At the first sign of an investigation, heed caution. Obtain local counsel and know that actions may result in a high cost of defense.

Cooperate, if at all possible. Carefully consider the use of criminal defense counsel and weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Ensuring trust by proactively reaching out to federal investigative authorities can also work to your advantage — specifically regarding creditability with federal investigators who are uncertain what will transpire given your organization’s prior lack of cooperation or outright defiance with investigations in the past.

Tips on Preparing for an Investigation

Suppose there has been an investigation by the FTC. In that case, the commission staff may call you and ask for your cooperation in answering some questions about your relationship to the alleged conduct. You will often want to do this voluntarily unless the representative tells you that there is a subpoena for our testimony on specified material or documents. Here are a few tips you can use:

● If there is any suspicion that you may be under investigation, obtain run-of-the-mill legal advice immediately — not for some time far out down the road when charges are filed. A federal officer calls on behalf of an official agency proceeding. Reputed firms like Oberheiden, P.C. of Detroit, are here to help with any legal concerns you may have, and they offer a free consultation to anyone who needs it.

  • When speaking with investigators from the FTC contact, depending on what your representation counsel asks of you, it’s important not to disclose anything privileged from other attorneys or non-attorney representatives who may have advised the scope of potential representation.
  • Know that most investigations are based on complaints filed by competitors or consumers. Keep in mind that it is illegal for any individual under 18 years old to file a complaint with the FTC alone.
  • One way to get out of trouble is to shut down the offending business practice or “voluntarily consent” to a settlement with prosecutors, who negotiate with you for an agreement that can include a fine or injunction that restricts your actions. DOJ may also prosecute you in court.

It is essential to know that there are specific steps you can take if your business or practice is under federal investigation. It would help if you did not wait for the government to contact you. If you think you may be under federal investigation, it’s best to get legal advice immediately to protect yourself and your business interests.

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