Shall we talk about…online identity theft ? A Ms. Broccoli conversation

It’s time for a new Ms. Broccoli conversation with your children! Today, the theme of the conversation is…identity theft.
What is identity theft? What may the consequences be? How do we protect our children from it? There are so many question that we encourage you to discuss for 30 minutes with your children. Enjoy!

Contents of the article :

  1. ms-broccoli-monster-messenger-usurpation-d'identitéA discussion guide with your children
  2. The golden rules for discussion success with your children
  3. Some golden rules to follow for limiting the risk of identity theft
  4. A few precise details on what identity theft is
  5. Ms. Broccoli’s selected reading for further subject discussion

And above all don’t forget : enjoy this pleasant moment of discussion with your children! 🙂

 1- Identity theft on the internet: a short discussion guide

Remember, this discussion guide is simply…a guide! The goal is not to ask each question or follow a pre-established order! These questions are just a departure point, a pretext to allow you to bring up an important subject, which your child cannot always talk about easily. If you feel that one point in particular deserves more in-depth discussion, take the time to do it.

Introductory questions

These questions, generic and not pertaining to the subject, are just there to help you begin a conversation! If you are “warmed up”, you may skip this step !…

  • What is the best thing that happened to you this week?
  • What cool things happened at school this week ?
  • What do you like most about school?
  • What’s your favorite memory of vacation ?
  • What would you like to know how to do the most that you don’t know yet ?
  • If you could write a book, what would it be about?
Questions to approach the subject…
  • What are your favorite websites/apps?
  • What interesting things do you find on these websites/apps?
  • Can users talk to each other? How does that work?
  • Have you ever told a secret to a friend? Think about what would happen if he were to tell it. How would you feel?
  • Have you ever seen embarrassing photos of your friends on the internet ? What was your reaction, and theirs?
  • Do you know someone who is ashamed of something he posted online? Some content that he shouldn’t have posted?
Questions about identity theft
  • What information did you provide to open this account ?
  • Have you ever given your password to someone?
  • Does your password have letters or numbers?
  • Let’s play a game. Let’s see if I can guess it !
  • Have you ever given your email address, your first or last name, or your birthdate to receive newsletters or promotional offers by email, for example? 
  • Do you know why and how this data is used?
  • You pay attention to everything you say in public and that you post. What would happen if someone else spoke for you, and invited your friends?

2- The golden rules for discussion success

You will find in this article the 9 golden rules for Ms. Broccoli conversation success with your children.

The most important thing is that you listen actively to your children, without judging them, and that you and your children enjoy this exchange.

3- The 4 golden rules your children should follow…

1. Install and update regularly an antivirus and a firewall on your child’s computer, tablet, and smartphone.

2. Define secure passwords: a birthdate, the street you grew up on, a boyfriend or girlfriend’s name…are passwords that are too easy to guess. Create a password using numbers, letters, and symbols with no sense of logic. 

3. Define a different password for each site or service. Using the same password everywhere is like using the same key to open your house, office, car, mailbox, trunk…once it’s known, the thief can do anything! To avoid this, don’t use your passwords more than once but rather create unique ones for each site or service you use (email account, social media account…).

4. Only share personal information with trusted sites or providers, and read carefully the privacy policies to understand why your personal data is collected, but also to know how it will be used and how it is protected.

4- What is online identity theft?

Online identity theft consists of taking over someone’s virtual identity by using their username and password and pretending to be that person to use their accounts for different (often fraudulent) purposes. To pretend to be you or your child online, sometimes very little information is needed: name, date and location of birth, sometimes also the relationship to another person.

Starting with this information, the impersonator may then research more bits of information (phone number, address, social security number, birth certificate…) and create a full identity. All one needs to do then is to declare a loss of important documents in order to obtain a “new” ID card, and the game is won! He can then use your identity and that of your child to commit financial fraud, travel illegally, hurt your reputation online…

And it’s the full identity of the young person, his reputation and even in more rare cases his safety, that is being played with. Compromising photos or inappropriate messages posted in his name may have a very harmful effect on an adolescent, for example.

The internet, but not just…

Vigilance on the exploitation of personal data is a growing preoccupation…especially for digital data. What’s more, the majority of identity theft cases stem from more old-fashioned methods…by retrieving important documents in trash cans that were poorly torn up. And what’s more:

  • 66% of people surveyed believe there is an increased risk that the data they communicate online may be transferred to or collected by third parties, especially in online purchasing situations or online subscriptions.
  • 41% believe there is an increased risk when paper documents are submitted.

And one word : online, your children are not exposed more or less than in real life, but just as much! All that’s needed is to know this, and to take the measures needed to address it. Without neglecting the old precautions about paper documents…

5- Ms. Broccoli’s selected reading for further subject discussion

And to conclude…

30 minutes of (real) conversation with your children every week can make a considerable difference. You can’t find these 30 minutes? What if you start with 15 minutes, or even 10 minutes just to try? No television, no radio, no telephone or interruption allowed during this precious time. You will be amazed by all that you are going to discover about your children and by the positive impact of these little conversations on your relationship with your children…with the condition that you truly listen to them!

Do you have a conversation idea to suggest to Ms. Broccoli ? A comment about or an addition to this article? A personal experience that you would like to share? Contact Ms. Broccoli at

Regarding Ms. Broccoli’s discussions