FOIA Request

Many FTC records are already available in our FOIA Reading Room. You may be able to obtain the record you are looking for online!

The FTC's website is a storehouse of information and it is all available at your fingertips. The site contains consumer information, business guidance, economic reports and analysis, speeches, press releases, and other documents created by the FTC. The site is also word-searchable. In addition, the site features information that the Commission currently places on its "public record."

If the information you are seeking is on the FTC's public record, a formal FOIA request is not necessary. You should be able to find the public material you are looking for on the FTC's website or by contacting the FTC's Consumer Response Center at:

Consumer Response Center ("CRC")
Federal Trade Commission
Room 130
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Telephone number: (202) 326-2222

A FOIA request can be made for almost any agency record. This does not mean, however that the FTC will disclose any record that you request. While the focus of the FOIA is on making government information available to the public, the statute recognizes that disclosure of certain kinds of information would be harmful. For this reason, the FOIA exempts nine categories of information from the general mandatory disclosure rule, and excludes certain records from coverage under the FOIA. FTC records that most frequently fall into one of these categories include material we have obtained from business' internal communications that are protected by a privilege, personal information, investigative records, and internal personnel rules and practices. When the Commission withholds a record or a portion of the record, it must specify which exemption of the FOIA permits the withholding. The FOIA does not require agencies to do research, to analyze data, to answer written questions, or to create records in order to respond to a request. See the FOIA Handbook for more information.

Our ability to respond quickly and accurately to your request depends upon the clarity of your request. When making your request, you should be as specific as possible with regard to names, company names, dates, addresses, and subjects, etc. For example, if your request relates to a particular company or individual, useful information would include a company's name, their address, the type of business they are engaged in and a specific time period. You do not need to give a requested record's name or title, but the more specific you are about the record or types of records that you want, the more likely it will be that the FTC will be able to locate those records.

As you prepare your request, please keep in mind that the FTC cannot advise you as to whether you should pursue a business opportunity or whether a particular company is "legitimate." We can only provide you with existing documents from which you may draw your own conclusions. You should also know that because the FTC does not maintain a national business registration list, the FTC is simply unable to advise consumers on whether any given business product, service, or opportunity meets a minimum standard.

See also links regarding consumer product safety and corporation registration information.

Sample FOIA Letter

Freedom of Information Act Request
Office of General Counsel
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Sir/Madam:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I request that a copy of the following document(s) be provided to me: [identify the documents as specifically as possible. i.e. all investigative records concerning ABC company, located at 555 Main Street, City, State, in the years 1997-1999. This company is offering franchises to sell widgets.]

In order to help determine fees, you should know that I am a [insert description of requester. i.e. individual, attorney, company, news organization]

[Optional]

I am willing to pay fees up to $____. If you expect the fees will exceed this, please contact me before proceeding.

[Optional]

I request a waiver of all fees for this request. Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest. [Include a specific explanation.]

If you need to discuss this request, I can be reached at [daytime phone number]. Thank you for your consideration of my request.

Sincerely,

Name
Address
City, State, Zip
Telephone Number

Where to Send Your Request

Regardless of how you send your request (via fax, e-mail, U.S. mail, or via our secure, online form*), address it as follows:

Freedom of Information Act Request
Office of General Counsel
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

The fax number for the FOIA branch is (202) 326-2477*, and the e-mail address is FOIA@FTC.GOV (Omit spaces when typing in e-mail address)*

* If you use the on-line form, facsimile, or e-mail, to submit a FOIA request, you do not need to mail a follow-up letter.

Make a FOIA Request Online