Vocabulary words to know:

·   Blog – A frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts

·  Collection Agencies – businesses or attorneys whose job is to collect money owed by “you” to another business. You have rights under the Fair Debt Collection and Practices Act about how they can act.

·   Credit Report – a kind of report card about your credit history

·   Credit Reporting Agencies - Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. These are three separate companies that keep large databases about your credit history.

·   Dumpster Diving – going into a trash can for documents that can be used for identity theft

·   Felony – a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a long term in prison (i.e. violent crime, high damage identity theft crime)

·   Firewall – software that blocks your computer information from an outside source

·   Forgery – creating a false document, altering a document or writing a false signature for the illegal benefit of the person making the forgery

·   Fraud – a type of crime used to gain services, money, information

·   Identity theft – a crime that occurs when a person steals your personal information and uses for self-gain

·  Imposter – someone pretending to be another person

·   Misdemeanor – a crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time (i.e. traffic ticket, sometimes given to first offenders)

·   Peer-to-Peer - P2P is an application that runs on a personal computer and shares files with other users across the internet.

·   Perpetrator – a criminal or an imposter

·  Phishing – a scam that tries to trick you into giving our your SSN and other personal information

·  Scam – trickery used to gain information

·   Shoulder Surfing – the act of listening in or looking over someone’s shoulder to see information they can use to steal you identity

·   Social networking - refers to a broad class of web sites and services that allow you to connect with friends, family, and colleagues online, as well as meet people with similar interests or hobbies, i.e. MySpace, Facebook

·   Social Security number (SSN) – a unique identifier issued by the Social Security Administration to all individuals

Discussion topics: (and reinforcement of video material)

·  Should changes be made in business practices to help stop identity theft? If so, what?

·  Are consumers completely responsible for this problem?

·   Why do identity thieves do what they do? Why do they steal? (hint- money, revenge, social problems)

·  How do you think victims feel about having their identity stolen? (see ITRC Fact Sheet 108)

·  How many ways do you think it can negatively affect their lives? (see The Aftermath Studies)

·   List the different ways identity thieves steal information and find one good solution for each technique.

·   They say that this crime hurts businesses. Do you really think that businesses are losing money to this crime or is someone else paying the bill? If so, who and why?   (hint:   will a company really write off the money or raise prices?)

·  What can YOU do to help combat this crime?

·  If you know a family member, friend or someone you personally knew was using your Social Security number illegally, how would you handle the problem?

·   Scams- what are some ways a thief could try to trick you into giving him/her your SSN either by the telephone or Internet? (see ITRC www.idtheftcenter.org)

·   Blogs- Can blogging be made safer?

·   Why do you think different studies and surveys, about the number of victims, vary so much? (hint- what is identity theft)  


·    Research the history of the Social Security number including:

o     Who got the first card?

o     Whose SSN was most stolen (hint- wallet maker)?

o    How is your SSN determined?

o     Why do you get a SSN before your first birthday and when was that procedure started?   (Note: Years ago, individuals only got a SSN when they started to work.)

·   Make a list of at least 8 popular scams and explain them to your classmates\

·   Find a survey or study on the victims of identity theft and explore the impact of this crime.  

·  Debates:   Have two groups with one representing the business interests and one consumer interests and discuss the changes they would like to see in protecting personal identifying information from identity theft. Remember, the business side is also concerned about the cost of change.

·   Family activity: have each student take home the “Are Your Identity Savvy” quiz and test family members for identity theft safety.

·   What are some of your rights under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act)?

·   What are some of your rights under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection and Practices Act)?

·   Create a short presentation for another class about identity theft and tell them what they need to know about this crime.

·   List types of career options that are associated with the reduction and alleviation of identity theft?   Consider Information Technology, forensic sciences, law enforcement, privacy officers and advocates, fraud investigators, and legislators. Why is each important?


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