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SAR Tips Part 2 | 5 Things To Remember When Writing A SAR Narrative

February 27, 2018
Read Time: 0 min

Use This Checklist For Building A Quality SAR Narrative

Writing impactful SARs can be challenging. Whether you file 10 or 100 SARs a month, it is important to know who’s reading your SARs and what type of action is taken upon them. In part one of our SAR Tips Part 1 - Secrets To Effective SAR Writing blog post, we addressed the five essential elements of information that should be included in every SAR, as well as three types of SAR readers. Knowing the five essential elements of information will not only help you write a powerful SAR narrative but will also ensure that you are providing law enforcement with the information they need to build a case against criminal activities.

Abrigo's BSA/AML and fraud detection solution, BAM+, uses enhanced analytics to identify potentially suspicious activity and provide users with the tools needed to write effective and eye-catching SAR narratives. One thing that sets BAM+ apart from other BSA/AML solutions is that it provides the five essential elements of a SAR directly within the alert details. The transparent alert details, paired with the rich investigation tools in BAM+, make investigations more efficient and reduce SAR preparation time. BAM+ also gives users the ability to save SAR narrative templates to act as a guide for writing effective SAR narratives.

Since the information generated from SAR filings plays an important role in preventing the flow of illicit funds through our financial system, it is critical that the information provided in a SAR filing be as accurate and complete as possible. It is important to remember the following:

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  1. Your main goal is to get the reader’s attention.

The FFIEC Manual states you don’t need to include all transactional details in the narrative if you include a detailed transaction log in an attachment. 

  1. Always use spell-check.

For example, if you type “marijuanna” instead of “marijuana”, chances are your SAR will not pull on a data sort because the keyword is misspelled.

  1. Provide follow up information for the SAR reader.
Let your reader know who at the institution to contact if they need more information.
  1. Utilize the tools provided by your BSA/AML software solution.
Having the ability to upload SAR templates within your BSA/AML software will keep your reporting consistent, and act as a guide for writing effective SAR narratives.
  1. You have an obligation to report suspicious activity.
Even if you don’t know the five essentials of information, you are still required to report suspicious activity to FinCEN. In situations involving non-account holders, information in your narrative should be included to the maximum extent possible. Addresses for suspects are important; filing institutions should note the suspect’s primary street addresses, but also, any other known addresses, including any post office box numbers and apartment numbers when applicable.

Get more tips on writing effective SARs, in our thought leadership webinar, Best Practices for Writing SARs. In this webinar, Elliott Casey, Staff Attorney for the Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Services Council, discusses how SAR teams operate and provide real-world examples of SARs that are helpful and SARs that are not. Elliott is an experienced SAR reviewer and specializes in money laundering, narcotics, and complex white-collar offenses.

For more information about Abrigo and our BSA/AML software, visit our product page or speak with one of our experts.

About Abrigo

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