Identity Theft and Consumer Health Education: A Case Study Teaching the Skill of Decision Making

Article excerpt

Identity theft is the fastest growing white-collar crime in America, increasing 40% annually. (1) Identity theft occurs when personal-identifying information, such as a social security number, date of birth, or address, is used to commit fraud. (2) Incidentally, from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2005, 255,565 people in the United States were victims of identify theft. During this time, the most prominent type of identity theft was credit card fraud. With 61% of all identity theft victims failing to notify a police department to file a report, (3) there is a need for distributing information and building a knowledge base regarding this issue. Of the total number of identity theft victims, the highest percentage of victims (29%) came from the range of 18-29 years, making this issue relevant when teaching consumer health education to young adults. Health education, ideally, is preventive education, serving to inform students of health education issues prior to real-life exposure to the idea where life-long consequences to decisions may exist. This identity theft case study links the skill of decision making to consumer health education as a tool to promote prevention education.


This Teaching Technique is appropriate for middle school and high school students studying consumer health education. This lesson is easily modified for college students having them write their own case studies incorporating the 3 Cs of decision making, the 4 steps to reporting identity theft, as well as the alignment of potential consequences to those choices that are addressed in their individual case studies.


Students will be able to:

1. Practice the use of the 3 Cs of decision making (clarify, consider, and choose) in relationship to consumer health behavior choices by identifying and matching the clues to the appropriate category within the puzzle game.

2. Link the consequences of health behavior choices to the 3 Cs of decision making. (Please note that in Table 2 question 2, an additional assessment component has been added to address this objective).

3. Identify the 4 steps to reporting identity theft.

This case study meets National Health Education Standard 5:

Students will demonstrate the ability to use decision-making skills to enhance health. (4)

Performance Indicators Grades 6-8

5.8.4. Distinguish between healthy and unhealthy alternatives to health-related issues or problems.

5.8.5. Predict the potential short-term impact of each alternative on self and others.

5.8.6. Choose healthy alternatives over unhealthy alternatives when making a decision.

5.8.7. Analyze the outcomes of a health-related decision.

Performance Indicators Grades 9-12

5.12.4. Generate alternatives to health-related issues or problems.

5.12.5. Predict the potential short- and long-term impact of each alternative on self and others.


One copy of "The Case of the Stolen Identity," Puzzle Pieces 1-32 (Table 1), as well as the Clarify, Consider, and Choose Puzzle Piece Worksheet (Table 2) for each student.


The time needed to teach the identity theft concepts and to fully implement the Teaching Technique is approximately a 1-hour class period.

Activities and Strategies

The teacher will introduce the concept of identity theft as an emerging consumer health education issue, addressing the appropriate steps that need to be taken when reporting identity theft (Table 3). The teacher will then explain the 3 Cs (clarify, consider, and choose) decision-making model to the students (Table 4). After explaining the 3 Cs to the students, the teacher will distribute copies of The Case of the Stolen Identity (Table 5) as well as the puzzle pieces (Table 1) for each student. Students will then independently read The Case of the Stolen Identity. …