The Federal Trade Commission has obtained court orders shutting down a ring that used "pretexting" to get people's confidential telephone records and sell them to third parties. The FTC also fined the defendants $600,000, their profits from the operation that got the information on false pretenses.
Pretexting made national news when Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn allegedly used it against reporters and her own board members to track down the source of leaks from board meetings.
A bill in the California Legislature to make the practice illegal under state law was heading for passage in 2006 when the Motion Picture Association of America killed it, telling lawmakers its investigators needed to pose as someone other than who they are to bust up illegal downloading rings. The MPAA got the bill killed just days before Hewlett-Packard's use of pretexting made headlines.