2023 Census: Keeping an eye out for fakes

Joint media release from Stats NZ and CERT NZ

6 March 2023

CERT NZ is warning New Zealanders to watch out for fake websites and social media accounts claiming to represent the official Census.

“We know that scammers target large events, using the opportunity to harvest information and sometimes even defraud people out of money. But it’s not as scary as it seems and with a little bit of awareness the fakes can be avoided,” says CERT NZ Director Rob Pope.

“The Census is vitally important to the country, and it’s sad that some would try to disrupt it for criminal purposes,” says Pope. “So just take a moment to check the information you’re getting is from an official source.”

Stats NZ’s Deputy Government Statistician and Deputy Chief Executive Census and Collection Operations, Simon Mason, says these are the only communication channels Stats NZ will use.

“You will not receive any unsolicited text messages or private messages on social media from the Census team,” says Mason.

Stats NZ has already spotted, and had removed, fake accounts trying to imitate the official Twitter channel.

“If you see a social media account that you suspect is fake, report it to CERT NZ immediately. The same applies if you receive an email, phone call, text message, or instant message from someone claiming to be from Census asking for financial details – these are all scams and should be reported to CERT NZ,” Mason says.

Census Day is tomorrow, 7 March, but people need to stay vigilant. Following Census Day, Stats NZ follows up with people and households who did not complete their census forms on time, through to April. There is also an extension to June for people in communities affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and recent weather events.

CERT NZ is working closely with Stats NZ to ensure that the Census is run smoothly and without disruption from cyber incidents.