Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Don't Let This Happen to Your Grandma!

Standard 9: Identity Theft

Susan McHale, Kristen Sublett, Niky Styers, Melissa Gunter | Published: June 24th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject Financial Literacy, Social Studies
  • Course Course Personal Financial Literacy
  • Time Frame Time Frame 150 minutes
  • Duration More 3-4 class periods


In this lesson, students will understand the essential elements of identity theft and consumer fraud. They will create a PSA-style poster or video about how to avoid identity theft. This lesson includes optional modifications for distance learning. Resources for use in Google Classroom are included.

Essential Question(s)

How do people steal your identity online? Can we prevent identity theft or consumer fraud?



Students complete a Fist to Five activity to identify what they already know about identity theft.


Students complete a Justified True or False list based on their prior knowledge and conversation with a peer.


Students read an article about identity theft and reassess their answers on the Justified True or False list.


Students create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) poster or a video PSA announcement.


Each student's Justified True or False List, Tweet Up, and PSA presentation may serve as evaluations for this lesson. A rubric is attached.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Justified True or False List (attached; one per student)

  • Justified True or False List (Answer Key) (attached; optional)

  • PSA Rubric (attached; one per student)

  • The Problems of Identity Theft reading (attached; one per student)

  • Internet-enabled student devices for research

  • Posters and art supplies (construction paper, markers, etc.)


Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Begin with slide 3. Briefly, read aloud the essential questions: How do people steal your identity online? Can we prevent identity theft or consumer fraud? Move to slide 4. Introduce students to the Fist to Five strategy. Ask students to hold up 0-5 fingers based on their answers to the question, "Do you know how to protect your online identity?" As stated on the slide, a closed fist means, "I'm not sure how to prevent my identity from being compromised," while five fingers mean, "I'm an expert at protecting my online identity."

Ask students who gave reasonably high numbers to share what they do to protect their identity. On a whiteboard space, record students' ideas and other ideas from the discussion about how to prevent identity theft.


Introduce students to the Justified True or False strategy. Then, invite students to explore the topic of identity theft and consumer fraud. Pass out a copy of the attached Justified True or False List handout to each student. Ask students to read each statement carefully and decide whether it is true or false based on personal knowledge. Allow about 15–20 minutes of time for this activity.

Have students pair up to compare their answers. Students are free to change their answers based on their discussions.


Pass out a copy of the attached The Problems of Identity Theft reading to each student. Have students read the article, correcting their Justified True and False Lists as they go. For statements deemed false, students should write the correct information underneath the statement. Allow about 30 minutes for the reading and for students to correct their lists.

Next, move to slide 5. Go over each answer with the class and have students correct their own answers (if you have chosen not to take up students' lists). Move to slide 6 when students are ready to see statements 5-8, and then to slide 7 to see statements 9-11. See the attached Justified True or False List (Answer Key) for a printed version of the answers.


Place students in groups of 2-3. Pass out a copy of the attached PSA Rubric to each student. Invite groups to create their own PSA about identity theft prevention. Each group will have a specific topic to address. Consider also telling students that the best PSAs will be placed in your school's hallway, if possible. Read the rubric aloud and answer any questions regarding expectations for the project.

Move to slide 8. Assign each group one of the topics listed on the slide. Have students access the Internet to research, finding reliable sources online that address their topics. Each student group should find at least three Internet sources and create a five-item, bullet-point poster that offers solutions for online use. Allow one class period for Internet research and poster creation and a second class period for presentations.


Move to slide 9. Introduce students to the Tweet Up strategy. As an Exit Ticket, ask students to Tweet Up anything they learned during this lesson about identity theft or identity protection. Students' tweets need to be 140 characters or less, including punctuation and hashtags.

Each student's Justified True or False List, PSA presentation, and Tweet Up serve as assessments for this lesson.