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Can you stay anonymous if you act as a whistleblower?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2021 | Whistleblowers |

When a company does something unscrupulous, like intentionally overbilling a government insurance program, no one may notice at first. They may have taken care to make such charges look appropriate to casual review.

Such fraudulent activity might go on for years unchecked, as far more organizations bill the federal government for services than federal employees audit to catch fraud cases. Once you notice a serious infraction at your workplace, you may feel like you have to speak up.

Reporting employee misconduct to government agencies will make you a whistleblower. As a whistleblower, you have certain legal protections. Your employer should not retaliate against you for reporting misconduct. However, many companies still try to lash out at employees who report internal lawbreaking to regulatory agencies. Can you remain anonymous so that you won’t face employer retaliation?

Many government agencies will help protect your identity

The government agencies investigating and prosecuting corporate misconduct can have a hard time pursuing their cases without inside help. As such, they often have policies that aim to protect the identity of whistleblowers that ask to remain anonymous.

Organizations that look into financial misconduct like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offer anonymous reporting systems and will also try to protect those who speak up anonymously.

Workers may need to identify themselves to assist in prosecution

Occasionally, a worker bringing the issue to the attention of a government agency is all that is necessary to initiate enforcement efforts. There could be a wire transfer record or other forms of evidence that make it clear that the company has broken the law.

Other times, the business may scrub its record to protect itself or may not have left behind an obvious paper trail. Having someone from the inside willing to testify in court or help analyze evidence may be the only way for the government to secure a conviction.

Barring scenarios where that is necessary, it may be possible to protect your identity. However, remaining anonymous won’t necessarily entitle you to the same whistleblower protections you would have as someone who speaks up and identifies themselves. Think about your circumstances to determine what approach is best.