Pretexting

What Does Pretexting Mean?

Pretexting is a social engineering technique in which a fictional situation is created for the purpose of obtaining personal and sensitive information from an unsuspecting individual. It usually involves researching a target and making use of his/her data for impersonation or manipulation. Personal data may include Social Security numbers (SSN), usernames, passwords or other privileged information.

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Techopedia Explains Pretexting

An important aspect of pretexting is establishing a target’s trust. Because information is power, research is the most important aspect of pretexting. For example, the ability to impersonate a tech support representative or telemarketer is useless if a particular target does not accept unknown calls.

Calls from service providers of credit cards, loans and insurance are commonly used. In such cases, a target may be asked to bypass paperwork and apply and agree to service terms over the phone. Under a pretexting scam, a fraudulent caller is likely to have some of this information but ask for other details. For example, a caller may ask for a SSN or even usernames and passwords associated with a bank account.

Legitimate calls are easily identifiable because a caller knows an individual’s information and will only ask for an agreement confirmation to complete a transaction.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.