Pretexting: The Unlawful Act of Obtaining Private Call Logs

The year 2007 brought us a new federal law, called the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits access to confidential telephone call logs. In particular, this law, which was enacted by President Bush, prohibits obtaining phone records through pretexting, which is a process that involves obtaining telephone records without an individual’s knowledge or permission.

What is Pretexting and What is it Used for?

In other words, it is now a crime to obtain – or even attempt to obtain – an individual’s phone records without their knowledge or permission. Many times, pretexting involves making false statements or false representations in an effort to obtain personal call logs.

In fact, many individuals have used pretexting by acting as an employee of a telecommunications company or phone carrier in an effort to obtain this personal information. Others have also used pretexting to obtain this information via the Internet, thereby resulting in computer fraud.

How are we Protected from Pretexting?

In addition, the Telephone Records and Privacy Act also includes preventing any individual from selling confidential phone records or obtaining personal phone records when knowing that the information was obtained fraudulently. In other words, even if you didn’t obtain the records, buying them from someone who did still makes you guilty when it comes to pretexting.

The direct result of pretexting includes fines and imprisonment of up to ten years, or both. Because it is a federal law, these punishments are almost always strictly enforced and may be compounded if the individual also engages in other illegal activities.

Because of the severity of illegal pretexting, many telephone or telecommunications companies have since put in place strict policies and procedures with their employees regarding this activity. Many companies, for example, have set up rigorous training, as well as ethics training, with their employees to prevent the possibility of an employee engaging in illegal pretexting.

Who Pretexts and Why?

Pretexting may involve an individual who calls a company and pretends to be the customer. The reasons for obtaining private call logs may be varied, but the bottom line is that it is an illegal activity, punishable by jail time and steep fines.

Telephone service providers keep call logs for its customers, which include all phone calls, both made and received. The information is kept and maintained by the telephone company and should only be accessed by authorized consumers.

The call logs of a consumer may reveal personal information about the individual, including his or her daily schedule. It may also identify the individual’s business or personal association. Private relationships may also be revealed through a call log, such as an individual’s doctor or a private friend.

Many criminals have therefore used pretexting because of its potentially damaging information. The personal data that can be obtained from pretexting can allow criminals to essentially destroy an individual.

Both individual customers and companies are protected under the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act. Our personal information can be a source of valuable information, including our phone records. It is because of this that pretexting is now considered a federal crime, thereby strongly discouraging criminals from becoming involved in this illegal act.