Friday, September 08, 2006

Pretexting at Hewlett-Packard

In addition to the words "backloading" and "springloading," we have another new vocabulary word from business: "pretexting."

Currently of interest in the Hewlett-Packard flap, pretexting involved the hiring, by HP, of private investigators who impersonated HP board members in order to get phone companies to turn over detailed records of their home phone calls.

As a result of pretexting, HP said one board member, George A. Keyworth II, would not be nominated for reappointment next year because he was a source of leaks to the press.

George A. Keyworth II was Director of the Office of Science and Technology under Reagan.

CBC reported:

California's attorney general is also examining the techniques of the investigation, which relied on an often illegal data mining method known as "pretexting." Investigators hired by HP called the phone company and impersonated at least one board member to get logs of phone calls to and from his home, said the attorney of a former HP director.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is investigating whether there were violations of criminal statutes that make it illegal to engage in identity theft and to access computer databases without authorization, spokesman Nathan Barankin said Wednesday.

Lockyer's office is investigating five other cases of pretexting, which is a fast-growing subsegment of identity theft. But Barankin, who described the HP probe as in the "early fact-finding stage," would not provide details of the scope of the HP inquiry or others.

A 2001 article in ecommerce times suggests that pretexting violates the Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act:

Passed in 1999, the GLB Act prohibits "pretexting," or the use of false statements to collect sensitive consumer data from financial institutions or directly from consumers. It also governs the use of counterfeit, lost or stolen records containing sensitive consumer data.

[IPBiz post 1949]


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