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Records Requests: Verification of Identity Best Practices

Before discussing personal information with a student, employee, guest, third party, or authorized representative, it is important to verify the individual’s identity and, where applicable, their authority to act on behalf of an individual.

Verification of an Individual in Person

Verification can be obtained in person by requesting to see photo identification. When an individual is unable to produce photo identification, the guide for telephone and email inquiries (asking a series of identifying questions) should be used (as described below).

Verification of an Individual over the Telephone

Verification can be obtained over the telephone by asking a series of identifying questions. The individual should be able to accurately provide the answers to three of the following pieces of information requested:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Student ID Number
  4. Telephone Number
  5. Email

Note: A Social Insurance Number (SIN) must never be used to verify the identity of an individual (unless the information is provided voluntarily).

To confirm the accuracy of the responses, reconcile the information with paper or electronic records related directly to the individual. Do not write down or otherwise record the responses to the identifying questions; just compare the responses to existing records.

If you are unsure or not satisfied with the verification responses provided, advise the individual to attend in person with photo identification.

Verification of an Individual via Email

If an individual requests their personal information via email, call the individual (or have them call you) to verify their identity as outlined above.

Requests from Authorized Representatives

An authorized representative must provide official documentation showing that they are legally authorized to act on the individual’s behalf, e.g., Power of Attorney or signed student consent form.  You should also verify the identity of the representative and the person being represented, using the verification criteria outlined above.

Requests from Third Parties

A third party seeking personal information on behalf of another individual must provide written consent signed by the individual whose personal information is being requested, permitting the release of the personal information to the third party. You must also verify the identity of the third party using the verification criteria outlined above.

Questions Regarding this Guide

If you have any questions regarding this guide, please contact VIU’s Privacy Office at