How to Check Someone's Educational Background

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Knowing a person’s educational background can tell you a lot.
Knowing a person’s educational background can tell you a lot. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Part of a background check can include someone’s educational background. This includes places they went to school, the dates they received their education and the degrees, if any, that they were able to obtain. However, under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the schools that a person attended must have written permission from that person to release their information in most cases. Checking someone’s educational background might be a little tougher than you think, but with some patience, you can get it done.

Ask the person to provide you with some kind of proof. This is most helpful in terms of checking the legitimacy of an educational background claimed on a resume. The person can provide you with a diploma, transcripts or other school records to verify their education.

Contact the specific educational institutions the person has claimed to have attended or graduated from. While these institutions will not release specific records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, you can usually verify that the person did actually attend the school as they claim.

Determine if you need permission from the person to run an educational background check. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act dictates the situations where permission is not needed. Some of these include school officials and other schools, educational lenders, audit officials, individuals or companies offering financial aid, organizations conducting studies or giving accreditation, health and safety emergency cases, subpoenas or state and local authorities.

Get written consent from the person to run a background check to verify their educational background. If you do not fit within one of the situations listed in the previous step, get written permission from the person you’re checking up on to provide to the schools.

Run the background check. Government agencies offer a criminal background check, but to check an educational background you will need to use a private company. Provide the company with the person’s written consent, as well as their full name, birth date, Social Security number and address. You will also need to pay a fee for this service.

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