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What does having an FBI number mean?

What Does Having an FBI Number Mean?

What Does Having an FBI Number Mean?

If you’ve been notified that you have been assigned an FBI number, you may be wondering what exactly that means. The FBI issues unique identification numbers that are linked to individual files in the FBI’s massive criminal database.

Simply having an FBI number does not necessarily indicate that you have a criminal record or are under investigation. There are various reasons why the FBI may create a file with your information and assign you an identification number.

The FBI’s Criminal Database

The FBI maintains a huge criminal database called the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) that contains fingerprint records, criminal histories, and other biometric data submitted from law enforcement agencies across the country and around the world.[1] This system is used to identify individuals through unique fingerprints and track data related to crimes and investigations.

When fingerprints or other biometric information associated with an individual are entered into this database, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division assigns a number, known as an FBI number or Universal Control Number, to identify that person’s file.[2]

Reasons You May Get an FBI Number

There are many reasons why you may end up with an FBI number assigned to your name, such as:[3]

  • Being arrested and fingerprinted, even if never charged or convicted of a crime
  • Applying for certain jobs or licenses that require FBI background checks
  • Serving in the military and getting fingerprinted
  • Naturalizing as a U.S. citizen and providing fingerprints
  • Working in certain government jobs requiring security clearances

So having an FBI number does not necessarily mean you have a criminal record. It simply indicates the FBI has biometric data associated with your identity.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
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Brendan huisman
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Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
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Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
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Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
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Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Accessing Your FBI File

If you want to view the information the FBI has on file under your identification number, you can request a copy of your Identity History Summary, often referred to as a criminal history record or rap sheet.[4] However, you will have to provide a new set of fingerprints and pay a processing fee.

This summary will list any arrests, charges, or convictions associated with your name and FBI number. It’s important to check it for any inaccuracies or incomplete data.

Correcting Inaccurate FBI Records

If you find incorrect or incomplete information in your FBI file, you can request changes by submitting an updated set of fingerprints and documentation supporting the corrections.[5] The FBI is obligated to investigate claimed inaccuracies and make revisions to ensure records are accurate.

Implications of an FBI Number

Some key implications of having an FBI number include:[6]

  • Background checks will reveal arrests or charges linked to your number
  • It allows law enforcement to identify and track you in their system
  • Your fingerprints can be matched to those found at crime scenes
  • You can be more easily monitored as a suspect in investigations

So while not necessarily indicative of a criminal history, an FBI number still puts you under greater scrutiny in the federal criminal database.


In summary, being assigned an FBI number simply means the FBI has your biometric data like fingerprints on file for identification purposes. This gets you entered into their massive criminal database, which has advantages and disadvantages for law enforcement and privacy.

Privacy Concerns with the FBI’s Database

Civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the privacy implications of the FBI’s vast criminal database:

  • It contains huge amounts of personal data on millions of Americans, both guilty and innocent[1]
  • This data can be used for surveillance and monitoring without oversight[2]
  • Facial recognition technology relies on this database, which has racial bias issues[3]
  • There is potential for misuse and abuse without proper regulations[4]

Limits on Law Enforcement Access

To protect privacy, some argue for limits on law enforcement access:

  • Restrict use of data only to cases where a crime is reasonably suspected[5]
  • Require judicial oversight for access in investigations[6]
  • Prohibit use of data to target political or religious groups[5]
  • Ban use of private facial recognition databases without a warrant[1]

Balancing Privacy and Security

There are complex tradeoffs between individual privacy and public safety/national security. Policymakers continue to grapple with crafting appropriate regulations for the FBI’s data practices that balance both interests.

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