Pretexting

Last Updated: December 29, 2012

Definition - 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.

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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