A lesson in “identity theft” was the lesson of the day in Mrs Joanne Adams Economics class. With returning guest speaker Lauren Pedretti, Community Outreach and Financial Literacy Specialist from the Quincy Credit Union, students were given the opportunity to be aware of the hard consequences that occur when identity theft happens. They are not immune because they are kids. Those precious phones found in their hands or pockets are the latest, most often used tool used to steal an identity.

Mrs. Pedretti describes identity theft as an umbrella that covers a lot of outcomes. Broadly, stolen information could allow someone to use “your name, social security number, account numbers, insurance numbers or other identifying data to commit fraud or other crimes.” What are some of the outcomes of stolen information? Lots of serious issues to deal with such as credit charges against a card, opening new accounts under your name, taking out a loan under your name, use of your debit card. The list goes on. Mrs. Pedretti also enlightened students to the fact that often times your identity is stolen by someone you know. Yes, the realities are harsh but ignorance around identity theft is harsher.

Senior Jackie Udoji expressed what most students found most interesting and yes, even scary: joining a public WiFi puts you at risk for identity theft. Jackie appreciated learning that “using public WiFi from coffee shops and restaurants allows a hacker to mirror your information on your device and steal your identify.” Like Jackie, her classmate Tamyn Arnold is now firm on her commitment “not to sign into anything on public WiFi.” Mike Gervasi was appreciative for all the information Mrs. Pedretti shared and “loved learning how skimmers can steal your information and that it’s important to remember to shred any credit card you receive in the mail if it’s not going to be used.” Mrs. Pedretti reminded students that as they approach their college years they will begin to get numerous credit card enticements from companies eager to have them as customers.

Fifty minutes after walking into their Economics class, students left with lots of practical life lessons that will keep them safer in this impersonal and technological world that they must navigate every day. For Economics teacher Mrs. Adams who has facilitated the Guest Presenter program in this class for three years, she continues to be “ a student, too! Every time I hear this particular presentation, I learn something new – there is so much important information to take in. I am always happy to give my students this opportunity.”