Report Fraud FAQ

Learn how the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund's intake process works.

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Q: How does the Fund's intake process work?

A: It starts with a whistleblower filling out a simple intake form. That intake form is personally reviewed by one of the Fund’s Trustees, all of whom are licensed attorneys in the District of Columbia and experts in whistleblower law. All information submitted is covered under the attorney-client privilege, and we will maintain confidentiality to the fullest extent provided by law.

Once reviewed, the Fund will take one of the following actions:

  • 1. Contact the whistleblower to obtain more information. This may be done by an attorney for the Fund or by a private attorney who works with the Fund. Regardless of who contacts the whistleblower, all of these communications are protected under the attorney-client privilege.
  • 2. Provide the whistleblower with a copy of the Whistleblower Attorney Directory.
  • 3. If it does not appear we or the lawyers listed in the Whistleblower Attorney Directory can assist you, we will notify you and provide other resources.
  • 4. If the Fund cannot help you, and you indicated on your intake form that the Fund can forward your form to an attorney who manages the National Whistleblower Center’s Legal Assistance Program, the form will be forwarded to the NWC.
  • Q: How long does it take for the Fund to review an intake form and communicate a decision to a whistleblower?

    A: These decisions are generally made within 30 days. All communications are conducted over the phone or by email. Please make sure to check your junk mail or spam folders.

    Although the Fund attempts to respond in a timely manner, it is your responsibility to continue your search for an attorney. Remember, you are not represented by an attorney until you have signed a written representation agreement.

    Working to find an attorney as quickly as possible is to your advantage considering the short statutes of limitations in some whistleblower laws and the first to file rule in whistleblower reward laws.

    Q: How can I secure assistance from a qualified attorney?

    A: All whistleblowers who file the intake form will be sent a Whistleblower Attorney Directory. It will be up to you to contact the attorneys in that directory and make arrangements for representation directly with these attorneys.

    Q: Does the Fund provide legal advice?

    A: The administrative staff of the Fund does not provide any legal advice. An attorney from the Fund may directly contact you to confidentially discuss your case with you. Any information provided by this attorney is preliminary in nature and is part of the case evaluation process. Any advice provided this initial evaluation process is preliminary in nature and should not be relied upon in making decisions on your case.

    Legal advice is typically provided to a whistleblower entering into a formal written representation agreement with an attorney, who may be associated with the Fund. However, the Fund does not provide any advice for which you should rely on until a formal representation agreement is signed by you and the attorneys who will represent you. If no such written agreement is signed, the Fund and/or any attorney associated with the Fund, are not your attorneys.

    We strongly encourage you to continue your own efforts to obtain information about your rights and obligations. Whistleblower law is complex and some people lose their case due to minor problems.

    Q: I don't know if I need an attorney, I just want to ask a legal question, who do I contact?

    A: Please be advised that the Fund cannot provide any legal advice prior to the execution of a formal representation agreement. Any information provided informally should not be considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

    Please email the intake coordinator at help@whistleblowers.org.

    Q: What is the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund?

    A: It is a non-governmental, non-profit legal organization that works closely with the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC). The Fund and the NWC are separate organizations. The Fund is controlled by licensed attorney-Trustees.

    The NWC has no control or oversight over the Fund and is not responsible for the actions taken by the Fund.

    Q: Is there a fee?

    A: No.

    Potential clients do not pay any fee for having their intake form reviewed by an attorney or for any follow-up interviews you may participate in. This is a free public service provided by the Fund.

    However, should you sign a representation agreement with an attorney, that attorney may require a portion of any recovery you earn to pay his/her attorney’s fee or charge you an hourly fee.

    Q: If I hire an attorney from the Whistleblower Attorney Directory, does that attorney work for the Fund or the NWC?

    A: No.

    The attorneys listed in the Directory are private and are not employed by the Fund or the NWC. Private attorneys listed in the Directory will make a decision on whether to represent you completely independent of any recommendation of the Fund or the NWC.

    If you decide to contact an attorney listed in the Directory, negotiations for representation and fee arrangements are strictly between you and the attorney. The Fund and NWC are not responsible for any part of the representation.

    If you hire an attorney from the Directory to represent you, the Fund will have no further involvement with your case. Furthermore, it is up to you to independently evaluate the quality of any attorney/law firm you may hire, including any attorney who works with the Fund.

    Neither the Fund nor the NWC endorses any attorney/law firm. The Fund’s Legal Assistance program is a pro bono public service.

    Q: Where can I obtain information about my rights as a whistleblower?

    A: The best resource on whistleblower law is Stephen M. Kohn's The New Whistleblower's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What's Right and Protecting Yourself. The Handbook is the first-ever consumer’s guide to whistleblowing and we strongly advise every whistleblower to obtain a handbook. In June 2017, a fully updated version was released. This updated edition includes seven new rules and a special anti-corruption toolkit for whistleblowers, as well as the latest developments on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, wildlife, tax, banking, ocean pollution, and other whistleblower reward laws.

    In addition, information about whistleblower rights can be found throughout the National Whistleblower Center's website. See the Know Your Rights page for additional whistleblower law resources.

    Q: What does it mean if I get a letter saying that my report is out of the scope of the program?

    A: This letter means that a Fund attorney has reviewed your report and determined that we do not have an attorney in our network that is an adequate match for the contents of your report. This determination has no bearing whatsoever on the merits of your potential case.

    Q: Can I rely on the legal information published on the website or blog operated by the Fund and the NWC?

    A: No.

    Although we try to keep the information published online as accurately as possible, laws vary from state to state, and the interpretations of federal and state law are subject to change. Only a lawyer with whom you enter into a written representation agreement can provide you with specific advice pertaining to your situation.

    By using this website (www.whistleblowers.org) you are agreeing that under no circumstances will the Fund or NWC (or any employee or lawyer working for these organizations) is responsible for:

  • (1) any information contained in or omitted from the website,
  • (2) any person’s reliance on any such information,
  • (3) whether or not the information is correct, current or complete and
  • (4) the consequences of any action you or any other person takes or fails to take, whether or not based on information provided by or as a result of the use of this site.
  • Q: Should I be concerned about confidentiality?

    The Fund and any attorney working with the Fund will keep your information strictly confidential and privileged to the fullest extent permitted under law and will assert the attorney-client privilege should any person (other than yourself or your agent) request any information about you. However, the Fund cannot guarantee the confidentiality of electronic communications. We urge you to never use any electronic device (mobile phone, laptop, desktop, etc.) that is owned or controlled by a private corporation or governmental entity.

    Furthermore, we recommend that you take steps to protect your online identity including establishing a separate email account that does not identify you by name and avoiding the use of other online platforms that may disclose your identity.

    Q: How can I get help?

    If you need help or want to contact an attorney, please fill out a confidential intake form.

    Please read the FAQ disclaimer.

    This page is operated by the National Whistleblower Legal Defense & Education Fund.

    1800 M Street, #33888
    Washington, DC 20333
    202-342-1902

    Notice: The information contained in this Web site is provided for informational and/or educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter. Read full Disclaimer here. The Fund is managed independently from NWC. NWC has no responsibility for actions taken by the Fund.

    The material in this FAQ may not reflect the most current legal developments. The content and interpretation of the laws addressed herein are subject to revision. We disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this website or in this FAQ. Before acting on any information or material in this web site, we strongly recommend you seek a qualified whistleblower attorney.

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