When the mail comes one day and you see an unexpected envelope from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), you’ll likely feel a wave of anxiety and trepidation wash over you as you speculate as to what lay inside. When you open the envelope and see that a complaint has been lodged against you and/or that you are under investigation, your mind may begin racing as you think back to what could have led to the complaint and look ahead towards the possibility of losing the professional license – and career – that you have worked so hard for.
If and when you receive such a letter, don’t let emotions such as fear or anger rule the day and influence how you react. That can only make the situation worse and create problems that would not have existed had you only proceeded in a calm, thoughtful, and responsive way. Here are four things you should absolutely NOT do when you find out you are being investigated by the IDFPR:
- 1. DON’T freak out. Panic and irrationality rarely lead to good things and wise decisions, and in the case of an IDFPR letter, panic is likely unwarranted. The vast majority of complaints and investigations are resolved either after an informal hearing or without any action being taken at all. Remember than during a long and successful career, you’ll have treated or served hundreds if not thousands of clients, patients, or customers. The odds are at least one of them will be unjustifiably disgruntled or unhappy in some regard and may lash out by filing a complaint with IDFPR. It is a cost of doing business.
- 2. DON”T ignore it. Even though you may view a complaint as frivolous or baseless, that does not mean you can simply roll your eyes, put the letter in your desk drawer, and forget about it. Failure to respond in a timely fashion to an initial IDFPR inquiry is in itself an offense that could subject you to IDFPR discipline, even if there was no merit to the underlying complaint.
- 3. DON’T retaliate. One of the worst things you can do is respond directly to or take any adverse action against the individual who filed the complaint with IDFPR. Don’t stop treating a patient or refuse to see a client without doing so in accordance with the rules governing your profession; failing to do so will only add more potential fuel to the disciplinary fire.
- 4. DON’T go it alone. The policies and procedures that govern IDFPR investigations, hearings, and imposition of sanctions are unique and complicated, and often times unwritten and informal; even skilled and experienced attorneys who do not practice before IDFPR can find themselves at a loss when dealing with licensure issues. You are no doubt smart and know your profession well, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can or should handle an IDFPR investigation on your own. Your reputation, career and livelihood are at stake. Now is not the time to take a flyer and hope for the best. Call an experienced IDFPR attorney as soon as possible after you’ve received that dreaded letter, and let them ease your fears and take the steps necessary to protect your license and your future.
Louis Fine: Your Chicago IDFPR Attorney
The moment you are contacted by IDFPR or learn that you are under investigation is the moment that you should contact me. I will immediately begin communicating with IDFRP prosecutors and work with you to develop the strategy best suited to achieving the goal of an efficient, cost-effective outcome that avoids any adverse action. Together, we will get you back to you clients and your career.