“Pretexting” crimes occur when the thief has done some research on their victim and uses that information to get the person to release even more information. For instance, the thief may use information about the person’s family, schedules, or daily habits to get the person to release their credit card number, driver’s license number, or social security number.
Such crimes are called pretexting because the thief creates a “pretext” that they need more information from the person. For instance, they might call the person and pretend that they have won a contest and need the person’s social security number to complete the process. These types of scams and fraud schemes usually aim to accomplish an identity theft through the information obtained during the conversation.
What Are the Legal Penalties for Pretexting Crimes?
Consumer fraud is illegal and may lead to various penalties. These can include misdemeanor or felony charges for criminal fraud, which are punishable by fines and/or jail time. In addition, the victim often ends up suing the defendant for damages, especially if the defendant has caused them losses. In some cases, a defamation suit may also be involved if the person’s information was used in a wrong way without their permission.
How Can Pretexting Crimes Be Prevented?
There are several steps that you can take to help prevent pretexting crimes from occurring. When speaking with a party on the phone, you should always:
- Check for credentials
- Verify the identity of the person you are talking to
- Ask for a direct line to call back; if they cannot provide this, it is possible that they are pretexting
- Look up the name/contact info of the person or the company that the person is representing; if you cannot find it, you may wish to cease communications with them
Again, if you are not sure about the identity or background of someone who is asking you for your information, do not share it with them. You are not obligated to do so, and you can prevent many legal conflicts in this manner
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Pretexting Crimes?
Pretexting can catch many people off guard and can lead to a wide range of legal conflicts and disputes. You may wish to hire a criminal lawyer if you feel that you have been affected by a pretexting scheme. An attorney near you can provide you with legal advice and representation if you need to file a lawsuit or press charges. Also, your attorney can explain the differences in state laws regarding pretexting.