Consumer Rights

 Objectives: Students will be able to…

  • understand what a scam is
  • be able to identify potential scams
  • ask questions before making a purchase
  • appropriately use vocabulary related to consumerism and sales


  • a collection of colorful fliers or ads from local stores and papers
  • a single ad, copied, for class discussion
  • copies of the word list, dialogues and cloze activities, 3 ads, matching activity
  • recorded dialogue scripts (optional)

 Key points:

1) You should always look at the “fine print” before buying something expensive.

2) An ad with important information in the “fine print” is not a scam.

3) Never give your social security number over the phone.

4) If you apply for a credit card, you need to have good credit history.

5) If you want to use a credit card, be sure you know the interest rate.

6) Never buy a product or pay a fee over the phone unless you can get something in writing.


1) Warm-up: Write the word SCAM on the board and ask if anyone knows what the word means.  Discuss what the word means and how it relates to being a consumer.  Give an example of a scam from your own experience.  Below is an example of an e-mail scam. Ask the students what clues tell them the message is a scam.  Then ask the class if they have had any experience with scams.


 I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, my family and I came down here to London, United Kingdom for a short vacation. unfortunately, we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed, all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We’ve been to the Embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we’re still having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills.  Well I really need your financially assistance…Please, let me know if you can help us out?  Am freaked out at the moment!!

(name of someone you know)

For another example of fraud, see the handout entitled “Fraud alert.”

2) During the above discussion, note on the board terms that come up related to consumer fraud.  Then introduce the word list and elicit definitions or examples from the class. Check for comprehension.

3) Hand out a copy of an advertisement.  Look at the ad together and locate together the following:        

                        a) What is the product?

                        b) How much does it cost?  Is there a rebate?

                        c) How can you pay for the product?

                        d) When can you pay for the product?

                        e) Is there any “fine print”?  If so, are there any “tricks”?

4) Listening activity: Dialogue between a customer and a salesperson

Play or read the first dialogue. Play or read it several times, then ask students to retell what they heard.  Have them complete a fill-in-the-blank exercise as they listen again.  Refer to the key points (listed at beginning of lesson plan).

5) Repeat the same activities with second dialogue.  The fill-in-the-blank activity is optional, depending on time and student interest.  Refer to the key points.

6) Pair students and have them practice reading the dialogues, alternating roles.

7) Form small groups and hand out the page of three written ads. Students read each one and underline the key vocabulary.

9) Working with the same ads, ask students to answer the 5 questions in #3.  Discuss as a group.  Are there any tricks or scams in the ads?

10) Review the vocabulary by completing the matching activity.  Use the handout as is or cut up the words and definitions and ask students to arrange them on a desk or table.

11) Divide the class into small groups and assign a different ad to each group.  Ask them to present the product to the rest of the class and try to “sell” it using at least three new vocabulary words.  The rest of the class pretends to be potential buyers who can ask questions about the product.

12) As an additional, somewhat more challenging activity, students can create their own ads, or look through a newspaper to find ads they want to use for a sales pitch, which they write and present to the class.

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