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By David Niemeier, Patrick Cotter, Richard Greenberg, Ricardo Meza on May 13, 2015 at 3:53 PM

Government agent office doorNearly every day in nearly every city in the United States, businesses and individual citizens are unexpectedly visited by some government agent, and we don’t mean mail carriers. These are local, state or federal agents, inspectors or investigators. They may be special agents for state and federal agencies such as Departments of Revenue, Environmental Protection Agencies or even law enforcement, like the FBI. They may be from agencies like OSHA, the SEC, or the Department of Labor. They may even be from one of the multitude of local, state or federal inspectors general offices, many of which have broad investigatory authority. Whatever their particular title or agency, they are all government agents, and most, if not all, have agreements, formal and informal, to share information and cooperate with each other’s investigations. So what you might say to one agency may as well be said to all of them.

The crucial question is: What do you or your employees do when these government agents appear? How you respond to the visit may have profound consequences, good or bad, for you or your business.

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