Pretext – “The Debate”
I have specialized in telephone investigations since 1997, in the last 15 years the FTC, FCC, Congress and even several States’ Attorney Generals offices have focused on how information brokers and private investigators have accessed telephone / cellular call records from the various Telco carriers.
In their investigation into this issue these government agencies have found that the primary way information brokers and private investigators have gained access to these records have been by “pretexting” the carrier in a variety of creative ways.
Their investigation prompted President Bush to sign into law H.R. 4709 – The Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006.
The term Pretext can be defined as: Obtaining secret or private information by pretending to be someone eligible to see that information; in other words, giving a fictitious identity (pretext) to obtain restrictive information.
While this sounds illegal, it is NOT!!
In fact the ONLY laws I have found that prohibit pretexting are limited to pretext for financial information (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999), and now for call records (H.R. 4709 – The Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006).
While I certainly obey the current laws and must agree with them, I disagree with the opinion when the term “pretext” as a whole is used or interpreted as illegal. And, in fact is an essential tool for many industries including the Private Investigative Industry, police officers, collection agencies and even our government.
On January 12th 2007 President Bush signed H.R. 4709 The Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006. It is now illegal to sell, transfer, or possess confidential phone records. Confidential phone records are defined in the act as: information relating to the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination, location, or amount of use of a service offered by a phone company. (Basically call records)
The H.R. 4709 Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006 also include an “Extraterritorial Jurisdiction” clause which prohibits foreign companies from selling or reselling any telephone records.
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