It is never pleasant to learn someone has filed a complaint against you or that you are being investigated. If you hold a professional license in Illinois, it could happen to you. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) investigates all complaints against licensees. If you receive a notice of a complaint against you, here are eight key strategies to deal with the situation.
You can – and should – hire an experienced administrative law attorney. As soon as you are notified that a complaint has been filed against you, and before you do anything else, retain an attorney you trust to represent you in front of IDFPR.
Being proactive is far better than ignoring the problem. Even if you are certain the complaint is baseless, avoiding the situation will only make things worse. Take the initiative and, with your attorney, prepare an effective defense from day one.
The quality of your first response matters a lot. A well-written and carefully crafted response letter may even result in the outright early dismissal of the complaint. Your attorney can help you to prepare a response that is a compelling part of your defense.
The timing of your response is critical. Be careful to respond to the initial notice of complaint and any other requests for information within the required timeframe. Failing to respond on time will not only make you look careless, but it may also result in additional sanctions or penalties.
Everything you say or write may be used as evidence by the board. For this reason, avoid communicating anything that is more than is necessary and run communications through your attorney. You do not want to accidentally harm your case, admit too much, or give your investigator any material to use against you.
Do not lie or misrepresent facts to the IDFPR. The Department attorneys are likely to uncover any attempts to lie about, hide, or destroy evidence related to your case. Getting caught doing so will make things much harder to reconcile in the end.
The primary purpose of IDFPR under the law is to protect the public, not you or your license. The board, the lead investigator assigned to your case, and anyone else you interact with are not there to help you, despite how friendly they may seem. If you are contacted by an IDFPR employee about an investigation or complaint, the best strategy is to have them contact your attorney.
While under investigation, the only person you should talk to about your case is your attorney. Communications with your attorney are protected by attorney-client privilege, while conversations with your friends, family, colleagues, or anyone else are not. By discussing the case with others, you create more opportunities for the investigator to subpoena witnesses to testify against you.
The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.