How to Verify a Federal Agent's Credentials

By Andrew Button - Updated May 31, 2017
FBI agent with badge

The badge of a federal agent is a symbol of authority. For this reason, counterfeit federal IDs are frequently manufactured for use in fraudulent activities. Over the years, thousands of people have been charged with distributing federal badges, and others have been convicted of using these badges to unlawfully enter other people's homes. There are reliable methods for checking a badge's authenticity.

Ask the agent to let you examine his badge. The badge is the most recognizable piece of ID carried by federal agents. FBI, CIA, and Drug Enforcement Administration agents all carry badges specific to their respective agencies. Thus, the badge is the first thing to look at when attempting to verify a federal agent's credentials.

Place the badge up to a bright light to verify the material it is made of. Federal badges are generally made of a metallic, gold-colored composite material. Badges made of plastic or aluminum will not reflect very much light compared with a real federal badge. These badges can be disregarded as fakes immediately.

Examine the badge for physical flaws. Check to see whether the badge has nicks, scratches, or peeled off paint. Federal agents are trained to take good care of their badges, which are made of durable material and replaced when they are damaged.

Examine the badge for irregular features. Check to see whether the badge has the organization's official logo on it. Also check to see whether the badge has a three-digit number on the bottom, and a bald eagle carved in near the top. Badges without these features are unlikely to be authentic.

Ask for more than one piece of ID. In addition to the metal badge, federal agents should also have an ID card. Check that the number on the ID card corresponds to the number on the badge. Also ask for a third piece of ID to make sure the person's personal IDs match his federal credentials by name, face and date of birth.

About the Author

Based in St. John's, Canada, Andrew Button has been writing since 2008, covering politics, business and finance. He has contributed to newspapers and online magazines, including "The Evening Telegram" and cbc.ca. Button is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Memorial University in St. John's.

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