We're retiring teacher-created lesson plans. Please save copies for your records. Common Sense digital citizenship lessons are here to stay.
Teacher-Created Lesson Plan

Scams and Identity Theft

Students will
Amanda H.
Media specialist/librarian
University Schools
Greeley, United States
Show More
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts, World Languages, English-Language Learning, Health & Wellness

Given a lesson on scams and identity theft, the student will demonstrate their knowledge by creating a comic.

Digital Citizenship

Understand the legal and ethical issues of technology as related to individuals, cultures, and societies.

  • Understand and practice the basics of safe use of the Internet
  • Practice safe handling of personal information online
  • Defend against SPAM, Phishing, and other digital scams/solicitations in email and other social media
  • Identify urban legends and hoaxes spread through email and the Internet
Grades 6 – 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Direct Instruction

Activity: Reading

Have students read through the definitions of a scam and identity theft as a review of what we covered last class.

Student Instructions

Read through the definitions of a scam and identity theft.

Scam: An attempt to trick someone, usually with the intention of stealing money or private information

Identity Theft: A type of crime in which our private information is stolen and used for criminal activity

2 Direct Instruction

Activity: Reading

Have students read through the information on Identity Theft.

Student Instructions

Read through the information on Identity Theft

Two Types of Identity Theft

Existing account fraud - use existing accounts to purchase things.  For example they use a person's credit card to make purchases

New account fraud - occurs when a thief uses your social security number (SSN) and other identifying information to open new accounts in your name. Victims are not likely to learn of new account fraud for some time, because the monthly account statements are mailed to an address used by the imposter.

Identity Theft leads to the following problems

Ruins your financial future by stopping you from being able to get loans, credit cards and to purchase items.

For example with a bad credit score you won’t be able to get a loan to pay for college or a loan to purchase a car

It takes a lot of time to clean up the mess and can be expensive

Has your identity been stolen?

Know the warning signs

  • You are getting preapproved credit card offers in the mail (although that can sometimes happen if you open a savings account)
  • You are getting calls from collection agencies

If you think your identity has been stolen, talk to your parents and encourage them to go to the following website for help identitytheft.gov

How to protect yourself

  • Protect your social security number
  • Do not give it out unless you have a trusted business relationship with the company and you have initiated the call.
  • Do not say your social security number out loud
  • Do not carry your social security number in your wallet
  • Avoid clicking on links in your email especially from unknown sources
  • Do not reply through email
  • Go to the businesses website by typing it into the browser yourself and logging into your account
  • Initiate phone calls yourself by calling the number you look up not the one given to you in the message they left
  • If you are concerned about an account change the password

Identity thieves look for the following


  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Where you were born
  • Current and previous addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Drivers license number
  • Passport number
  • Account numbers
  • Companies where you hold accounts
  • Passwords
  • Social security number

How do identity thieves obtain your information?

  • "Dumpster diving" in trash bins for intact credit card and loan applications and documents containing SSNs.
  • Stealing wallets and purses.
  • Stealing mail from unlocked mailboxes to obtain newly issued credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, investment reports, insurance statements, benefits documents, or tax information.
  • Accessing your credit report fraudulently, for example, by posing as an employer, loan officer, or landlord.
  • Obtaining names and SSNs from personnel or customer files in the workplace.
  • "Shoulder surfing" at ATM machines in order to capture PIN numbers.
  • "Skimming" your credit or debit card information at a point of sale terminal or ATM machine.
  • Finding identifying information on Internet sources, via public records sites and fee-based data broker sites.
  • Hacking into unsecured and unencrypted data files of financial institutions, retailers, and credit card transaction processing companies.
  • Sending email messages that look like they are from your bank, asking you to visit a website that looks like the bank's in order to confirm account information. This is called "phishing."
  • Dark Web where criminals post information stolen from data breaches.  Example they get your email address off the dark web and then search Facebook for your email address and are able to learn your full name along with whatever other profile information is published including your photo and hometown.  Facebook is changing this feature so you can’t search for someone by email or phone number anymore.

3 Direct Instruction

Have students read through the information on scams

Student Instructions

Phishing Scams

Be very skeptical of requests for personal information including messages and posts from friends that seem out of character for them in case their accounts have been hacked and it’s not really them requesting information.

Phishing scams typically

  • Ask you to verify your account
  • Makes it seem urgent
  • There are spelling errors in the message
  • They alert you that your account is in trouble
  • They want you to download an attachment or click on a link
  • They are telling you about an offer that is too good to be true

Watch the following video on phishing


Watch the following video on ransomware



5 Independent Practice

Students will apply what they learned by creating a comic that would tell others how to protect themselves from a scam.

Student Instructions

Your task is to create a superhero message for others to inform them how to protect yourself from scams (might want to narrow this down to a certain type of scam)

Give your superhero a slogan that supports your message. (You can Google superhero slogans for more ideas)

Use Make Beliefs Comix to create your message.

When you are finished, email your comix to your teacher

6 Wrap-up

As an extended learning opportunity, students can look at the FTC website on scams.

Student Instructions

If you finish early, you should take a look at this website and browse through even more scams.