How To Find Out Every Single Thing The FBI Knows About You

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shocked woman looking at laptop

With our dependence on smartphones and the internet, a world where ‘Big Brother’ is always watching is more probable than ever.

In fact, the annual transparency report issued yesterday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed that the FBI "searched emails, texts and other electronic communications of as many as 3.4 million U.S. residents without a warrant" between the period of December 2020 and November 2021.

But what types of information does the government actually have in your file?

According to a viral TikTok, there’s a way to find out what the FBI knows about you.



The TikTok states that under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, you can legally request your FBI file that includes all the information the government agency has collected about you since the day you were born. And surprisingly, that’s 100% correct.

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How To Find Out What The FBI Knows About You

1. Send a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or Privacy Act request.

The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law in 1967 in order to give American citizens access to information collected by the U.S. government, while the Privacy Act of 1974 gives citizens the right to information the government specifically collects on them.

In order to request information under these Acts, you have to draft a letter stating that you’re requesting information under the Act.

The easiest way to send this request is electronically through the FBI’s FOIA portal, which will have you fill out a form for both Acts including all necessary information to process your request. Submitting through the online portal will also quickly give you access to a FOIPA request number that you can use to easily track your request.

Alternatively, you can send a letter to FBI using this sample letter.

Both methods ask for basic information such as your name and mailing address.

2. Indicate payment for your FBI report and submit your request.

When sending your request, both the sample letter and portal forms ask how much you’re willing to pay for your report. According to the Department of Justice, when requesting information solely for personal use, this fee covers record searches and duplication.

The fee for record searches depends on the hourly wage of the person conducting the search and record duplication is five cents per page. However, the fee for the first two hours of searching or the first 100 pages of duplication is waived, and if the total cost of the request is less than $25, you won’t be charged.

When including in your request how much you’re willing to pay, if the FBI determines that the fees exceed the amount you stated, they’ll notify you and give you a chance to either narrow down your search or pay the total estimated fees.

When requesting your file through the portal, you’re also able to request a fee waiver and limit your search to just the two hours of searching and the first 100 pages of information.

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3. Check the status of your request.

The amount of time it takes to complete a request varies on the amount of information and pages the FBI collects.

You can check the status of your request using the FOIPA request number given to you after you submit your request.

4. Review your request.

Once your request is processed, you’ll receive the applicable documents.

5. Appeal your request.

It’s possible that the FBI withholds information from you under FOIPA exemptions, such as documents classified due to matters of national security or certain medical files. However, this is more likely to happen to a news source requesting information to publish rather than an everyday citizen.

However, if it does happen to you and you don’t agree with the exemptions, you can appeal the decision using the online portal or by sending a letter to the Director of the Office of Information Policy.

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Micki Spollen is an editor, writer, and traveler. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her travels on her website.