What is a sensitive field and how do I update it?

Teena Blaydes -

Sensitive fields are basically identifying fields. They identify that a user account is unique. 

  • username
  • email_address
  • auth_identifier
  • card_id


I've received an error "attempted to change sensitive fields" - What do I do?

  • This occurs when any change is made to email, auth identifier, card identifier, username
  • Review the user/s that failed, determine if any sensitive field has been updated since the last sync
  • Was this an intended change?
    • If yes, see 'How-To Change Sensitive Fields'
    • Otherwise, confirm that the values being sent through to Handshake are accurate


  • If this change was not intended, these users do *not* have duplicate accounts (e.g. with a personal email), and there are no duplications being sent in the user file, please reach out to support@joinhandshake.com to assist with the issue.


How do I know if there are duplicate sensitive fields in my file?

  • When uploading to the Importer, you'll receive feedback from the analyzers indicating any duplicate sensitive field values found
  • Use a personal program (such as Excel or Numbers) to compare possible duplicate records


How do I know if this sensitive field is associated to another account within Handshake?

  • These fields should be unique to each user at your school. 
    • If these fields are not unique to the student, please contact your Account Manager immediately to go over alternatives for handling this situation
  • If sensitive field is associated ("already taken") to another account, this is generally due to the user having multiple Handshake accounts
    • e.g. User signed up with personal email address but associated their school username and auth_identifier to their account
    • When school attempts to sync this user with their school email, username, auth_id, that user will fail due to this information being associated with another account
    • This generally requires a deconfliction that happens at the Student and School level (to determine which account they want to retain)
      • The undesired account is then archived



How do I change sensitive fields?

To update email_address:

Note: This is done based on looking user up by username

    • Sync must include, at a minimum:
      • username
      • must match precisely what's in Handshake
    • change_sensitive_fields
      • set to "TRUE"
    • email_address
      • this is the new email address

To update username, auth_identifier, card_id:

Note: This is done based on looking user up by email_address

    • Sync must include at a minimum:
      • email_address
      • username
      • field needing to be changed (if *not* username):
        • auth_identifier
        • card_id
      • change_sensitive_fields
        • Set to "TRUE"


Note: This is not a standard sync you can run through AWS or the Importer. Your Handshake Importer Team will need to configure the file task to allow for changing sensitive fields.

Please notify importer@joinhandshake.com when you have uploaded (to the importer app) the file that needs to run to update email addresses or another sensitive field.






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