Under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, banks and other financial institutions must report any suspicious activity related to money laundering, terrorism, or other criminal activities. This reporting process is known as the Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). At its core, SAR reporting can help financial institutions detect and report suspicious activity within their walls.

Banking and financial institutions are globally susceptible to financial crimes. So, they need vigilance mechanisms to protect consumers’ interests and comply with the country’s existing laws. SAR reporting helps law enforcement agencies monitor individual activities and prevent untoward incidents.

Understanding SAR reporting

SAR reporting involves preparing and submitting a report for review in case a financial institution has discovered suspicious activity. As per the law, SAR reporting is never sought by an authority. Rather, the financial institution must report any suspicious activity they observe. SAR should be submitted as soon as possible. This ensures an early investigation is initiated. Moreover, any further transactions can be monitored promptly.

SAR reports must contain detailed information about the activities and transactions before and after the suspicious activity was noticed. For instance:

  • the company’s activity type
  • the individual or individuals who carried out the suspicious activity
  • the date, time, and location of the incident
  • amounts involved in the transaction
  • any documents or records related to the incident

In SAR reporting, the financial institution must also provide information about the steps to investigate the incident and how it was resolved. SAR reports should also have other relevant information that could help the authorities investigate.

The SAR reports submitted are reviewed by FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) and relevant authorities. SAR reports are confidential. They cannot be shared with anyone other than the investigative authorities.

Best Practices and Tips For SAR reporting

SAR reporting is complex and requires a great deal of attention to detail. To ensure SAR reports are completed effectively, here are some best practices:

1. Monitor all transactions closely

Institutions need to be vigilant and monitor all transactions closely. Suspicious activity may not always be obvious. So, financial institutions must watch out closely for anything out of the ordinary.

2. Follow up on any unusual behavior or activity

Financial institutions should follow up and investigate anything that looks out of the ordinary. SAR reports must include detailed information on the activities before and after the suspicious activity was first noticed.

3. Establish SAR reporting processes

Financial institutions should establish SAR reporting processes to ensure that the reports are filed on time. This includes designating a SAR officer to handle the reports, setting up procedures, and training staff on SAR reporting.

4. Document everything thoroughly

SAR reports should include as much detail as possible. Financial institutions must document all relevant details and ensure that SAR reports are accurate and complete.

5. File SAR reports quickly and accurately

Financial institutions should act quickly to ensure SAR reports are filed correctly and that all relevant information is included. SAR reports should also be completed accurately to ensure the authorities have all the necessary information.

6. Maintain confidentiality of SAR reports

SAR reports are confidential and should not be shared with anyone outside the financial institution or the investigative authorities. Financial institutions must ensure SAR reports are protected from unauthorized access.


Overall, SAR reporting is critical to ensure that any suspicious activity is reported and investigated promptly. It helps protect the financial institution and its stakeholders from losses due to fraud and other criminal activities. SAR reporting is also a legal obligation for all financial institutions, so it must be taken seriously. By understanding SAR reporting, financial institutions can be better prepared to handle any suspicious activity they may encounter.

To ensure that fraudsters who might carry out illegal activities in the future are blocked at the onboarding stage, financial institutions can implement a robust solution that helps with end-to-end instant identity verification and background checks. This important step can help secure the institution from fraud and money laundering.

HyperVerge offers an AI-powered identity verification solution that helps financial institutions detect and authenticate identities in an instant. With HyperVerge’s automated, real-time identity verification process, financial institutions can confidently and quickly onboard customers while adhering to compliance regulations.


What is SAR reporting?

SAR (Suspicious Activity Report) reporting is a process of filing reports with the financial intelligence unit of a country whenever any suspicious activity is detected. SAR reporting helps financial institutions detect and investigate suspicious activities related to money laundering, fraud or other criminal activities.

What is included in a SAR report?

A SAR report should include as much information as possible about the suspicious activity. This includes the customer’s name and address, account details, transaction details, and the reason for filing the SAR report.

How often should SAR reports be filed?

SAR reports should be submitted immediately after suspicious activity is detected. Financial institutions must ensure SAR reports are accurate and furnish all the relevant details.