Pretexting is the practice by which personal information is obtained under false pretenses. It often takes place by telephone or via the Internet. For example, pretexting occurs when someone calls a credit card company, pretends to be a particular credit card holder, and obtains information about the true credit card holder's account. It has been deemed both inappropriate and illegal according to the laws of the United States. The term is derived from the false “pretext” that is used to obtain personally identifying information.

Individuals who participate in pretexting are known as “pretexters,” many of whom sell the illegally obtained information to others. This information may be used to obtain credit in someone else's name or to investigate or sue a particular person. Pretexting is similar ...

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