The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) possesses investigation powers that are defined in 6, 9 and 20 of the FTC Act. The FTC pursues cases involving unfair and deceptive trade practices through CIDs and enforcement actions and litigation.
Hinch Newman knows how to win when it comes to FTC investigations, civil investigation demands (CIDs) and subpoenas. The firm is singularly focused on protecting clients’ interests and appreciates the impact that regulatory investigations can have on business strategy. FTC investigation lawyer Richard B. Newman is highly-skilled at developing and implementing strategic plans to resolve government inquiries and thwart enforcement action.
FTC Consumer Protection Laws
The FTC’s primary consumer protection statute is Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45. Section 5 of the FTC Act provides that unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce are unlawful. The FTC relies on Section 5 to challenge everything from advertising and marketing practices to privacy and data protection practices.
FTC investigations lawyer Richard B. Newman possesses concentrated knowledge of developing case law and regulatory enforcement trends related to “unfair” and “deceptive” trade practices, claim substantiation standards, Internet free trial scams, health and safety claims, privacy and data security, undisclosed data breaches, U.S. origin claims and disclosure requirements. He regularly counsels clients on other consumer statutes, laws and regulations administered and enforced by the FTC, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), the Restore Online Shopper’s Confidence Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
How Does the FTC Investigate and Enforce the Law?
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the federal government responsible for providing consumer protection. Its mission is to protect consumers from unfair business practices. The FTC enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud and deception. It also enforces federal antitrust laws that prohibit anticompetitive mergers and other business practices that could harm the marketplace.
In order to issue a CID, a majority of the Commission must vote to utilize the compulsory process. The FTC is permitted to gather and compile information concerning, and to investigate organization, business, conduct, practices and management of any person, partnership or corporation engaged in or whose business affects commerce. Pre-complaint investigations are typically not public.
The Bureau of Competition uses CIDs and subpoenas for investigations. The Bureau of Consumer Protection utilizes CIDs and takes testimony at “investigational hearings.” Investigational hearings are similar to depositions.
CIDs differ from subpoenas. Both are used to obtain existing documents or testimony. A CID, however, can require that the recipient to file written reports or answers to interrogatories. CIDs can also require the production of tangible things and provides for service of CIDs upon entities not found within the territorial jurisdiction of any court of the United States. Alternatively, the FTC sometimes opts to request information via “access letters.”
Both subpoenas and CIDs can be the subject of a petition to limit or quash. The FTC is authorized to petition a federal district court to enforce a CID.
FTC Investigation Lawyer for Civil Investigative Demands
FTC investigations attorney Richard B. Newman is one of the most established government civil investigation demand defense counselors in the online marketing space due to his unique ability to maximize the likelihood of a successful resolution by quickly developing appropriate strategies for each individual case, including the negotiation of sampling techniques used to minimize the burden of producing documents. His impeccable reputation with regulators provide Mr. Newman’s law firm with the uncommon ability to productively confer with FTC staff to gain an understanding of the agency’s theories and concerns, and to negotiate beneficial modifications to CIDs.
Hinch Newman also utilizes its experience defending Internet advertising-related regulatory matters to educate FTC staff about the recipient’s business and the industry within which it operates, formulate solid defenses, and to prepare persuasive presentations to FTC staff and management designed to stop an investigation in its tracks.
The firm represents performance marketers in conjunction with regulatory investigations and enforcement proceedings and is dedicated to achieving the possible results for marketers faced with an FTC investigation, including case closure when possible.
CID defense is Hinch Newman’s core practice area. The firm possesses extensive experience in responding to CIDs and government investigations. It defends marketers in FTC investigations involving allegations of unfair and deceptive acts or practices and violations of consumer privacy rights with respect to user data security.
Marketers turn to Hinch Newman when their vital interests are at stake. They look to the firm’s relationships with the regulators that prosecute FTC investigations, deep knowledge of the laws and regulations that drive regulatory investigations, the broad scope of regulatory investigation services that the firm provides, and a demonstrated ability to find solutions to complex challenges.
What to do Upon Receipt of a CID
Recipients of FTC civil investigation demands are typically not given any advance notice, although sometimes word can get out that the agency has initiated an industry-wide sweep, or is issuing CIDs or subpoenas following a complaint filed with Commission. The reasons for initiating an investigation are not typically shared with targets by staff FTC investigation lawyers or examiners.
Promptly negotiating the timing and scope of a CID is always a critical factor. FTC rules dictate that recipients of CIDs must ‘meet and confer” with FTC staff within 14 days of receipt of the CID or, if sooner, before the deadline to file a petition to quash. There are also rules that cover when and how recipients must file a petition to quash
As an experienced FTC CID lawyer, Hinch Newman is often able to deduce the underlying motivation for an agency investigation, what law the FTC believes has been violated and whether the recipient is indeed a target or merely a subject. The firm’s experience defending government inquiries and subpoenas also provide it with the unique ability to determine whether the CID is, in fact, a confidential “friendly” CID sent to a non-target, and to assess various confidentiality and SAFE Web Order considerations.
Some preliminary actions upon receipt of a Federal Trade Commission CID should include implementing a preservation hold of relevant materials and consulting with an experienced FTC investigation professional that will confer with FTC staff to discern the nature of the government inquiry and potential liability exposure. Targets are often concerned about whether the investigation and sensitive information produced concurrently with it will be held in confidence by the FTC. Hinch Newman routinely negotiates and procures confidentiality agreements with agency staff designed to enable the designation of materials as “confidential” and to secure the return of such materials at the conclusion of the investigation.
Customized Strategies for Each Individual Case
FTC investigation attorney Richard B. Newman possesses extensive experience formulating and successfully implementing individualized strategic defense responses to FTC consumer protection civil investigation demands. Targets of internet-related investigations count on his expansive knowledge of marketing and advertising practices, as well as his insight into agency enforcement policy.
The firm regularly counsels clients on strategies designed to narrow the scope of CIDs, obtain extensions of time and a phased, “rolling” document production schedule and push back against the FTC. It also provides preventative advertising compliance advice to a broad spectrum of digital marketers and advertisers, and regularly monitors FTC policy agency, press releases, enforcement actions, agency testimony and remarks by Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith in order to keep clients abreast of the FTC regulatory landscape.
Government consumer protection litigation attorney Richard B. Newman has provided continuing education guidance to advertising legal professionals on best practices when responding to FTC civil investigation demands. He is also a contributing author for the National Law Review, where he has written features articles on CID defense strategies
When responding to FTC civil investigative demands, the first step is to consult with and experienced FTC investigations lawyer that may be able to deduce whether the recipient is the subject or the target of the investigation, or whether the FTC merely believes that the recipients possesses relevant information about a third-party.
Investigation Closure Prior to Enforcement
Hinch Newman possesses a distinct ability to lay the groundwork via white papers and sophisticated analyses to argue why there has been no violation of consumer protection law or, if there has been such a violation, why pursuing the matter further is not the best course of action. Over the years, the firm has repeatedly and successfully convinced FTC investigation attorneys to close investigations without seeking any remedy from the recipient, or narrow the scope of relief sought based solely upon review of documentation, without seeking enforcement. It does so by credibly convincing the agency that enforcement is not in the public interest of that the FTC will not be successful if it initiates legal action.
As an exceedingly experienced consumer protection defense law firm, Hinch Newman works closely with clients that have received CIDs to deliberately consider the implementation of early corrective actions plans designs to thwart the initiation of enforcement proceedings altogether and weaken FTC arguments for injunctive relief in the event that litigation is commenced.
High-Profile FTC Investigations
Hinch Newman’s experience, insight and credibility with state and federal regulators provide a distinct benefit to its clients. The firm has successfully handled numerous high-profile FTC investigations initiated by the Federal Trade Commission and other stated and federal regulatory bodies. This prominent experience and proven success sets Hinch Newman apart from other CID investigation law firms.
The firm is a leader in the profession, and possesses a rare combination of consumer-defense related litigation experience and practical insight. Hinch Newman frequently handles complex FTC complaints and inquiries by implementing strategic approaches geared toward successful resolutions. This deep skill set and breadth of experience across the performance marketing industry gives the firm a unique ability to interact with regulatory officials in pursuit of the prompt resolution of investigational matters, while minimizing the disruption to its clients’ business operations.
Contact an experienced FTC consumer protection investigations lawyer to discuss a deliberately crafted approach aimed at defending your business in all phases of regulatory inquiries.