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Pretexting is a form of social engineering in which an individual lies to obtain privileged data. A pretext is a false motive.
Pretexting often involves a scam where the liar pretends to need information in order to confirm the identity of the person he is talking to. After establishing trust with the targeted individual, the pretexter might ask a series of questions designed to gather key individual identifiers such as confirmation of the individual’s social security number, mother’s maiden name, place or date of birth or account number.
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Pretexting to gain access to financial data was specifically banned by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) in 1999. The pretexting restrictions defined by GLB apply to all organizations that handle financial data, including banks, brokerages, credit unions, income tax preparers, debt collection agencies, real estate firms and credit reporting agencies. The Act’s restrictions do not apply to information that enters the public domain as a matter of public record, such as details of real estate transactions, property taxes, bankruptcy or police records.