FTC Defense Lawyer for Investigation & CIDs
Our Career Federal Defense Attorneys and Former Federal Prosecutors Represent Companies and Individuals in FTC Investigations and Other Matters
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is tasked with enforcing the nation’s antitrust and consumer protection laws. While it has a variety of means of doing so, its investigative powers are among its most potent. These include the power to issue subpoenas and FTC civil investigative demands (CIDs), as well as the power to impose substantial administrative and civil penalties.
In addition to imposing these penalties, the Federal Trade Commission can—and frequently does—refer cases to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal prosecution. The FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit works with the DOJ to pursue criminal charges for consumer fraud, serious antitrust offenses, and other crimes. Crucially, even if an FTC investigation is not criminal in nature initially, evidence uncovered during an investigation can shift the investigation’s focus and lead to charges.
Experienced FTC Attorneys for Targeted and Strategic FTC Defense
For companies and individuals that are in the FTC’s crosshairs, executing a targeted and strategic defense with an FTC defense lawyer is the key to avoiding unnecessary consequences. At Oberheiden P.C., we rely on extensive experience to defend companies and individuals during FTC investigations nationwide. Our experience encompasses all matters falling within the FTC’s enforcement jurisdiction; and with former federal prosecutors on our defense team, we have an intimate understanding of how the FTC investigates and when FTC investigations present risks for criminal prosecution.
Understanding the FTC’s Enforcement Jurisdiction
While the FTC enforces a variety of federal statutes and regulations, its primary authority comes from the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act). As the FTC explains, this statute “empowers the agency to investigate and prevent unfair methods of competition, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce,” and it establishes the agency’s two primary missions, which are “protecting competition and protecting consumers.”
Under this umbrella, the FTC targets companies and individuals for a broad range of statutory and regulatory violations. This includes both civil and criminal offenses. Some examples of the types of matters the FTC investigates include:
- Unfair and deceptive trade practices (including collection scams, debt relief scams, telephone and mobile services fraud, financial and investment fraud scams, and disaster relief scams)
- Bogus and counterfeit products
- Mortgage and insurance fraud
- Identity theft
- Consumer data privacy and security violations
- Anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions
- Other anticompetitive business activities
Again, these are just examples. FTC investigations can target an extraordinarily broad array of offenses; and, when an FTC defense attorney is defending against an FTC investigation or responding to a civil investigative demand, understanding the focus and scope of the inquiry is a critical first step. At Oberheiden P.C., we rely on our experience as federal defense counsel and as former DOJ prosecutors handling FTC investigations to quickly assess our clients’ risk and formulate targeted defense strategies—with the goal of resolving our clients’ investigations without charges whenever possible.
Understanding the FTC Investigation Process
FTC investigations can be either formal or informal in nature. While many FTC investigations begin informally, they can quickly become formal inquiries if agents uncover evidence that appears to justify civil or criminal enforcement action. This is one reason why companies and individuals targeted by the FTC need to engage an experienced FTC defense lawyer or FTC defense lawyers promptly. Mistakes made early in the investigative process can lead to unnecessary risk, and they can substantially increase the costs of presenting an effective defense.
During the FTC investigation process, agents will seek to gather evidence through various means. Oftentimes, this will start—or appear to start—with an informal dialogue. However, in the background, agents may already be working to gather evidence from other sources as well, and they may already be relying on information obtained from a whistleblower, a different federal agency, or another source.
As a result, when facing an FTC investigation, it is crucial not to make any assumptions about what agents do or don’t know. As with all types of federal investigations, the key to executing a successful defense is making informed decisions based on reliable information given by your FTC attorney. When you know what the FTC knows, when you know how the FTC investigates, and when you understand the steps you need to take in order to resolve the FTC’s investigation favorably, only then can you and your FTC attorney execute a strategic and effective defense.
Understanding the Risks of Facing FTC Scrutiny
In addition to understanding the FTC’s enforcement jurisdiction and its investigative process, it is also important for targeted companies and individuals to understand the risks they are facing if not in FTC compliance. FTC investigations can lead to a variety of consequences, including:
- Notices of Penalty Offenses
- Civil monetary penalties
- Referrals for criminal prosecution
If an FTC investigation results in a referral for criminal prosecution, targeted companies and individuals can face a wide range of charges. Along with charges under federal antitrust and consumer protection laws, this includes charges for deceptive practices like conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and other federal crimes. Companies charged with these crimes can face hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in financial penalties, while company executives, board members, and other individuals can face both fines and federal imprisonment.
Why to Choose Oberheiden P.C. for FTC Defense
If the FTC is targeting you or your company, why should you choose Oberheiden P.C. law firm for FTC defense lawyers? Here are just some of the reasons why clients nationwide choose our law firm to defend them as their FTC attorney:
1. Our Focus on Federal Defense
At Oberheiden P.C., we focus our practice on federal defense. This distinguishes us from many other law firms, and it ensures that we have the capabilities required to represent our clients effectively in high-stakes FTC matters.
2. Our DOJ Experience
Along with extensive experience defending clients in FTC and other federal agency investigations, several of our attorneys also have prior experience prosecuting antitrust violations, consumer fraud, and other federal crimes at the DOJ.
3. Our Track Record
Our track record speaks for itself. We have a high success rate, and we have resolved the substantial majority of our clients’ federal investigations without criminal charges being filed.
4. Our Client-First Approach
Our clients come first in everything we do. This client-first approach shows through in all aspects of our practice, and we firmly believe that it is one of the main contributing factors to our success.
5. Our Reputation
As a result of our experience and track record, we have a strong reputation among our clients and within the federal bar. We regularly receive referrals from our clients and from lawyers at other law firms.
FAQs: Defending Against an FTC Investigation
Are FTC Cases Civil or Criminal?
The FTC’s enforcement authority is civil in nature. This means that all FTC cases are civil—at least initially. However, if agents uncover evidence of criminal misconduct (or potential criminal misconduct) during an antitrust or consumer protection investigation, the FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit can work with the DOJ to pursue criminal charges.
What is the FTC Bureau of Competition?
The Bureau of Competition is a division of the FTC that is devoted to enforcing U.S. antitrust laws. It has a team of approximately 300 lawyers and support staff who are tasked with uncovering potential antitrust violations and assisting with the FTC’s enforcement efforts in the antitrust arena. If you have been contacted by the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, you should consult with an FTC defense lawyer promptly.
What is the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection?
The Bureau of Consumer Protection is the division of the FTC devoted to enforcing the federal prohibitions against unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practices. Its enforcement activities include “conducting investigations[ and] suing companies and people that break the law.” This includes breaking laws such as those that prohibit fraud scams, robocalling, and other commercial activities that harm or unfairly disadvantage consumers.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Been Contacted by the FTC?
If you have been contacted by the FTC, you should contact an FTC defense lawyer promptly. FTC investigations can progress swiftly; and, by the time you find out that the FTC is targeting you or your company, agents may have already gathered evidence from a variety of third-party sources. A lawyer who is experienced in the area of FTC defense will be able to help you make informed decisions with your (or your company’s) best interests in mind, deal with the FTC on your behalf, and take all of the other steps that are necessary to achieve a favorable resolution in light of the facts at hand.
What Penalties Can the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Impose?
If the FTC uncovers evidence of civil violations during an investigation, it can impose three main types of penalties: injunctions, restitution, and civil monetary penalties (CMP). While the FTC cannot impose criminal penalties directly, it will refer companies’ and individuals’ cases to the DOJ for criminal prosecution when warranted.
Speak with an FTC Defense Lawyer for Experienced Defense Counsel at Oberheiden P.C.
If you need to speak with a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defense lawyer, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To arrange a complimentary initial consultation with a senior lawyer at Oberheiden P.C., please call 888-680-1745 or tell us how we can reach you online today.