We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Suspicious Activity Report?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In the United States, a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) is a document which a financial institution such as a bank, credit union, or money services business is required to file if it believes that a customer's behavior is suspicious. Filing SARs is required under the terms of the Bank Secrecy Act, passed in 1970, with the reports being directed to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. When such reports are filed, the customer under suspicion is not notified.

Financial institutions can file Suspicious Activity Reports electronically, via paper forms, or on storage media such as discs. The report must be filed within 30 days of the discovery of facts which suggest that a customer's activity is suspicious. It can be initiated by any employee, such as a teller or manager, and the originating employee does not discuss the SAR with coworkers unless it is absolutely necessary.

Certain events can trigger an automatic Suspicious Activity Report and in other cases people are expected to use their judgment when it comes to determining whether or not a report should be filed. As a general rule, if someone suspects that money laundering, movement of money to support terrorist activities, or fraud is occurring, there is an obligation to file a SAR. For example, if someone routinely brings in sacks of cash for deposit and does not own a business, this could be grounds for filing a report. Likewise, if someone engages in a transaction and then suggests that there will be a reward for not filing a Suspicious Activity Report about it, this would trigger a filing.

The report includes details about the financial institution, the customer, and the activity deemed suspicious. Once it has been filed, additional investigative steps may be taken to clear the matter up or to collect evidence which can be used in a prosecution. The data is also used in a database which collects information about patterns across the financial industry. These patterns can be used in further investigations and in analysis of banking activities to look for warning signs, with law enforcement trying to keep up with current trends in money laundering and fraud.

If someone engages in activity which results in a Suspicious Activity Report and the activity is actually innocent, this will be revealed during investigation. There may be entirely legitimate reasons for people to do things which look peculiar to bank personnel. It is advisable for people who know that their banking patterns will be changing to alert the bank to avoid triggering such reports. For example, if someone is going to start receiving remittances from overseas from a family member who is working in a foreign company and the bank is alerted ahead of time, it will not be alarmed by the deposits.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.