Vancouver Police tackle new methods of identity theft

A PSA campaign focuses on how fraudsters mask who they are, as well as safety considerations when using public WiFi.


The Vancouver Police Department launched a new awareness campaign to help curb the ongoing rise in identity theft, specifically focusing on new ways people should be vigilant during the free WiFi era.

Launched during “Fraud Prevention Month” in March, the campaign features a simple design where a thumbprint is slightly faded in certain areas, making it also resemble a balaclava. This was done, according to agency partner Taxi, to combine an image representing someone’s identity with one representing theft.

In 2018, identity theft related crimes cost Canadians $21.2 million, almost double what it cost the year prior, continuing its steady rise over the last decade. All of the campaign creative directs to a microsite the VPD has set up to offer advice on how to avoid identity theft online.

Some of the tips are tried-and-true things people have been hearing for some time – such as never accepting files from unknown sources or keeping an eye on unusual activity in banking accounts – but much of it includes newer considerations people should keep in mind, now that they live in a time of free public WiFi and are using devices in public. These are things like not submitting personal information while using a public WiFi connection, ensuring that you are actually connected to a business’ real network and not a spoof, and being aware of instances when others may be able to see your screen, like at the table at a cafe or on public transportation.

The message behind the campaign is that online fraudsters may be using another identity to commit further theft and other crimes under another person’s name, encouraging people to stay vigilant when it comes to who they send information to and ways others may be able to see it. Each of the posters are are also hand-stamped, which James Sadler, ECD at Taxi Vancouver, says helps make the creative feel more personal, reflecting the fact that identity theft is a highly personal crime.

In addition to social posts, the campaign is appearing in various OOH media across the city, including posters and cards left next to places where public WiFi codes are displayed in businesses like coffee shops and bars.

Wall posting VPD