How to Tell if an FBI ID Card Is Real

Determining the validity of an FBI card is no easy task.
Image Credit: jim pruitt/iStock/Getty Images

In 2010, the Osceola Sheriff's Department alerted Kissimmee, Florida residents that a man was impersonating a U.S. FBI agent. The suspect allegedly questioned a woman about the neighborhood and called the Sheriff's Department, reporting that a man showed her a fake FBI badge and impersonated an agent. The Sheriff's Department found the man, stopped his vehicle, and questioned him about his alleged federal agent status. Twenty-eight minutes later, law enforcement confirmed that the man was, indeed, a covert FBI agent. This evidences that not everyone can differentiate a real FBI card from a fake one.

Basics of an FBI Card

An FBI card will contain the agent's name and badge number; with this information, you can contact the regional FBI office and request agent verification. Most FBI cards are very plain and easily forged, containing little more than a name and photograph; thus, the best way to determine if an FBI card is legitimate is to cross-check the identification with the Bureau itself. You can also check the person's badge to further verify the person's status. Note that it is possible for a person to use an existing officer's information on a forged identification card, which would render an FBI verification phone call moot. Therefore, if the agent wishes to further question you or interview you, request a lawyer. Many websites offer templates and tutorials on how to create convincing FBI identification cards, so determining whether the card is valid is difficult, and should be accompanied by other verification methods.

references & resources