by Mike Masnick

Think The Pretexting Firms Are Running Scared?

from the looks-that-way dept

With so much attention on the practice of "pretexting" following the HP board spying scandal, do you think the companies involved in the practice are running scared? One of the firms that was charged by the FTC back in May for selling people's phone and credit card records (obtained by pretending to be them) has decided that it would be wise to settle, and give up all the money they earned from doing it. Though, it's worth noting, in this case, apparently that's only $2,700. Considering how much attention pretexting has received, it's interesting to see that, for at least one firm in the space, it didn't appear to be very lucrative.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2006 @ 1:56pm

    its the principle of the thing

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Solo, 5 Oct 2006 @ 2:50pm

    It seems if you use the same 'techniques' as those firms use, you are in step one of identity theft. However, for a 'legitimate' company, this is called regular m.o., part of the businedd plan.

    No wonder we can't keep our privacy anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ghost, 5 Oct 2006 @ 3:21pm


    We don't have privacy, not as we know it. We have two methods available to us. Privacy by the sheer weight of numbers, one tree in a massive forest, or privacy by active dis-information!!! Actively spread false data about yourself, use hotmail/gmail/yahoo/vfemail etc to make as many of yourself as you need, each a different avatar of your personalities. Lock down your credit crapola, get pre-paid cell phones, pay with cash everywhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stu, 5 Oct 2006 @ 5:27pm


    Who defines the language wins the game. Euphemisms hide the raw truth.

    Please - refuse to use euphemisms when it comes to politics and legal issues.

    Some examples:
    genocide = ethnic cleansing (how sanitary it sounds)
    fraud = pretexting (sounds like some kind of "text messaging" doesn't it?)

    The rest of my post is from an article by Daniel Pipes about euphemisms at:
    The press, however, generally shies away from the word terrorist, preferring euphemisms. Take the assault that led to the deaths of some 400 people, many of them children, in Beslan, Russia, on September 3. Journalists have delved deep into their thesauruses, finding at least twenty euphemisms for terrorists:

    Assailants - National Public Radio.

    Attackers - the Economist.

    Bombers - the Guardian.

    Captors - the Associated Press.

    Commandos - Agence France-Presse refers to the terrorists both as "membres du
    commando" and "commando."

    Criminals - the Times (London).

    Extremists - United Press International.

    Fighters - the Washington Post.

    Group - the Australian.

    Guerrillas: in a New York Post editorial.

    Gunmen - Reuters.

    Hostage-takers - the Los Angeles Times.

    Insurgents - in a New York Times headline.

    Kidnappers - the Observer (London).

    Militants - the Chicago Tribune.

    Perpetrators - the New York Times.

    Radicals - the BBC.

    Rebels - in a Sydney Morning Herald headline.

    Separatists - the Christian Science Monitor.

    And my favorite:
    Activists - the Pakistan Times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 5 Oct 2006 @ 5:35pm

      Re: pretexting?

      Please - refuse to use euphemisms when it comes to politics and legal issues.

      There's euphamisms and there's accuracy. Pretexting has a pretty clear definition that describes fraud, but using "fraud" alone is not particularly descriptive. So, I believe that pretexting is a perfectly good word.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Davey, 6 Oct 2006 @ 9:13am

        Re: Re: pretexting?

        Identity theft is an even better word. "Pretexting" is just another PR-made term to make corporate crime seem less malignant, more sanitized. If the perps were just the peasant classes, the machine would have come up with an equally colorful equivalent to "pirate", as promulgated by the "entertainment industry".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Donald Duck, 6 Oct 2006 @ 11:12am


    Re: Social Engineering Techniques/Terms

    All Social Engineering techniques are based on flaws in human logic known as cognitive biases. These bias flaws are used in various combinations to create attack techniques.


    Pretexting is the act of creating and using an invented scenario (the pretext) to obtain information from a target, usually over the telephone. It is more than a simple lie, as it regularly involves some prior research and the use of pieces of known information (e.g., Birthday, Social Security Number, last bill amount) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the target.

    The purpose is often to trick a business into disclosing customer information, and is used by private investigators to obtain telephone records, utility records, banking records and other information directly from junior company service representatives. The information can then be used to establish even greater legitimacy under tougher questioning with a manager (e.g., to make account changes, get specific balances, etc).

    As most U.S. companies still authenticate a client by asking only for a Social Security Number, Birthday, or Mother's maiden name — all of which are easily obtained from public records — the method is extremely effective and will likely continue to work well until a more stringent identification method is adopted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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