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Suspicious Activity Reporting

What Is The Suspicious Activity Report?

The Suspicious Activity Report (the SAR Report) is a document that financial institutions must file with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) following a suspected incident of money laundering, fraud, or other suspicious activities. SAR Reports are required under the United States Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

What Constitutes Suspicious Activity? What Triggers A Suspicious Activity Report?

Suspicious Activity ReportingAccording to the FDIC, SAR Reports are used to report all types of suspicious activities affecting depository institutions, including but not limited to money laundering, check fraud and kiting, computer intrusion, wire transfer fraud, mortgage and consumer loan fraud, embezzlement, misuse of position or self-dealing, identity theft, cash transaction structuring, and terrorist financing.

When Should A Suspicious Activity Report Be Filed?

Suspicious Activity Reports must be reported to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an agency of the United States Department of the Treasury, no later than 30 calendar days after the date of initial detection of facts. An extension of 30 days can be obtained if the identity of the person conducting the suspicious activity is not known.

Federal law requires that a financial institution and its directors, officers, employees and agents who report suspected or known criminal violations or suspicious activity may not notify any person involved in the transaction that the transaction has been reported.

Financial institutions are required to keep a copy of a SAR Report and the original or business record of any supporting documentation for five years.

What Should Be Included In A Suspicious Activity Report?

An effective Suspicious Activity Report should clearly detail:How To Complete The SAR Report
  • Who conducted the suspicious activity
  • What instruments or mechanisms were used to facilitate the suspect transaction(s)
  • When the suspicious activity took place
  • Where the suspicious activity took place
  • Why you (the filer) think the activity was suspicious
  • How or by what method of operation the suspicious activity took place

How To Fill Out The SAR Report

The SAR Report form has five sections, each containing information about the filing institution or the activity in question. The Suspicious Activity Reporting Form (the SAR Report) includes:
  • The name, address, social security or tax ID, birth date, drivers license number, passport number, occupation, and phone number of all parties involved with the activity
  • The date Range and codes for the type of Suspicious Activity
  • Information about your Financial Institution, and where the Suspicious activity occurred
  • Contact information for the financial institution's compliance officer (or equivalent) and list of any law enforcement agency that has been contacted while investigating the activity
  • A written description of the activity
Beyond completing and submitting the forms correctly, financial institutions also should consider how to train it's tellers and others on how to identify potential suspicious activities, as well as how to automate the process.

Find SAR Report Form Training

To find SAR training courses for complying with your organization's Suspicious Activity Reporting requirements, simply select one of the recommended courses below, or choose "Suspicious Activity Report" from the "Professional Development" section of the following search box.

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