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What is a Freedom of Information Act or FOIA request?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides the public with the right to make a request for federal agency records.

How do I submit a FOIA request to the FTC?

Submit your request one of the following ways:

  1. Submit your request online.


  1. Fax your request to (202) 326-2477.
  2. Send your request via postal mail to the address below. See sample templates for a FOIA Request Letter and a FOIA Appeal Letter.

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


Who can submit a FOIA request to the FTC?

Generally, any member of the public may submit a FOIA request concerning records maintained at the FTC.

How long does it take for the FTC to respond to a FOIA request?

Our goal is to respond within the timeframe outlined in the Freedom of Information Act, which is twenty working days, or approximately one month, but this may vary with the complexity of the request. When the FTC needs an extension of time to respond to your request it will notify you in writing and offer you the opportunity to modify or limit the scope of your request.


How much does it cost to make a FOIA request?

There is no initial fee for making a FOIA request. However, the Freedom of Information Act authorizes the FTC to charge fees to recover the costs associated with the processing of your request. Details related to fees can be found here.

How can I check the status of my request?

If you submitted your request through the FTC’s Public Access Link, or PAL, click here.

Or you could email us at


Can a request be expedited?

We process requests in the order in which they are received. However, you may request expedited handling of your request if there is a compelling need for a more rapid response. To qualify for expedited processing, you must show that: (1) failure to obtain the records quickly could pose an imminent threat to the life or safety of any person; or (2) your primary job is to disseminate information and there is an urgency to inform the public about actual or alleged Federal government activity. A FOIA officer will respond to your request for expedited treatment within ten days of receiving it to let you know whether the request has been granted.

Are certain records already publicly available?

Yes. Many materials, such as records related to Commission organization procedures, industry guidance, rulemaking, adjudicative proceedings, consent agreements, and investigations are already publicly available on the FTC’s website. You could also search the FTC’s Frequently Requested Records page for previously released records.


Why is some information exempt, or withheld from release, under the FOIA?

All agency records must be made available to the public under the FOIA, except for records that are:

  1. Properly classified as secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy (b)(1).
  2. Related solely to internal personnel rules and practices (b)(2).
  3. Specifically exempted by other statutes (b)(3).
  4. Concerning trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged or confidential (b)(4).
  5. Privileged interagency or intra-agency memoranda or letters, except under certain circumstances (b)(5).
  6. Personnel and medical files and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy (b)(6).
  7. Investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes (b)(7).
  8. Contained in or related to certain examination, operating, or condition reports concerning financial institutions (b)(8).
  9. Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells (b)(9).

FTC records that most frequently fall into one of these categories include material we have obtained from businesses, certain internal communications that are protected by a privilege, personal information, law enforcement records, and internal personnel rules and practices.

Does the FTC request payment in advance?

If the charges exceed $250, the FTC may request payment in advance.

Once I receive an invoice for my FOIA request, how can I submit payment?

If you submitted your FOIA request via PAL, log into your account to make a payment with your credit card.

Alternatively, all checks should be made payable to the US Treasury and directed to:

Financial Management Office
Mail Stop: 776
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20580

Please include your FOIA tracking number and invoice number on your check.

What if my FOIA request is denied?

If your request is denied, you have the right to appeal. Appeals must be in writing and include a copy of the initial request letter as well as the initial response letter. A request for discretionary release of exempt information should state the interest of the requester in the material being sought and the purpose for which it would be used if the request were granted.

Sample Appeal Letter

FOIA appeals are decided by the General Counsel. To ensure an independent review of the issues presented on appeal, individuals other than those who processed and decided the initial request advise the General Counsel on appeals. The General Counsel has authority to release documents that are exempt from disclosure, but are unlikely to cause harm to the agency’s activities, individuals, or businesses, if released.

Appeal letters should be addressed to:

Freedom of Information Act Appeal
Office of the General Counsel
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20580

What if I have a complaint about a company or a telemarketer?

You can file a complaint by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). For more information on filing a consumer complaint, please click here.