About Us | Contact Us
View Cart

The Importance of Pretext Calling

By Adam Reynolds | Tuesday, September 13, 2022 - Leave a Comment

It’s all about protecting Customer information . . .


In 1999 the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) directed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and other federal banking agencies to ensure that financial institutions have policies, procedures, and controls in place to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of customer financial information.  The FDIC and other federal banking agencies then released guidance on how to address those issues, including pretext calling tests as a defense against the unauthorized release of customer information.  Pretext calling is defined as posing as a customer or someone authorized to have customer information in order to obtain confidential customer data.

Banks have been tasked with taking various steps to safeguard customer information and reduce the risk of loss from identity theft.  This includes establishing procedures to prevent fraudulent activities related to customer information.  To prevent pretext callers from using pieces of personal information to impersonate account holders in order to gain access to their account information, banks are required to establish written policies and procedures to control access to customer information.

As the FDIC’s letter titled “Guidance On Identity Theft And Pretext Calling” states, banks should train employees to recognize and report possible indicators of attempted pretext calling. They should also implement testing to determine the effectiveness of the controls designed to thwart pretext callers and may consider using independent staff or third parties to conduct unscheduled pretext phone calls to various departments.

Adam Reynolds
Lead Non-Technical Auditor

Pretext calling is used to assess the ability of staff members to not be tricked into giving out personal or confidential information, and to confirm authentication procedures are being followed. This is performed using “blind” and “semi-blind” pretext calling methods. During the blind phase, no information about the financial institution is provided to the testing team prior to performing the pretext calls. We typically have a discussion with the Client to identify what information we could try to obtain without having any information provided to us by the financial institution.  This can include customer information but may also include information the institution has identified as sensitive information (EIN, vendor names, etc.).  Pretext callers research the institution’s public presence for information that could be used against them, identifying IT personnel and vendors the institution may use, and then try to gain further information through calling.

During the semi-blind phase, a limited amount of customer information is provided to the pretext caller by the financial institution (e.g., name, address, phone number, account number).  Further information gathering is attempted as the pretext caller researches those customers on the internet (date of birth, mother’s maiden name, employer, etc.).  They then call front line employees posing as those customers attempting to gain further account information (account balances, recent deposits, etc.) with the information they were provided and gathered.

The required policies and procedures to protect customer information are not new, but if we are not testing that process, we cannot confirm they are working as intended.  The amount of personal information online related to our customers is only continuing to grow and we need to ensure that we are asking the right questions and that process is being enforced. Pretext calling is an important test that will give us insight into that process and show us if we are properly protecting customer information.


If you are interested in what infotex can do when it comes to Pretext Calling, visit offerings.infotex.com and reach out to us about it!


Original article by Adam Reynolds. Data Security Analyst, infotex


same_strip_012513


 

Latest News
    What you need to know for compliance coast-to-coast. Back in 2020 we posted an article containing links to data breach laws from each state, and it has proven to be one of our more popular posts.  Because laws surrounding the use (and abuse) of technology are always evolving, we thought it was worth taking another […]
    Another awareness poster for YOUR customers (and users).  Now that we have our own employees aware, maybe it’s time to start posting content for our customers! In the spirit of October and Halloween we have put together a gallery of our “spooky” Awareness Posters at halloween.infotex.com. Use them to help decorate for the holiday! Check […]
    With nearly three in four people using third-party payment services tied to their bank accounts, the risk isn’t limited to your own policies and procedures… An article review. When working on cybersecurity awareness messages for your customers you may be inclined to focus on your own systems, but a new study on security in digital […]
    PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE BUSINESS NEWS NEW EMPLOYEE FOR INFOTEX infotex is excited to announce that Cody Smith has joined the team as the newest Data Security Analyst. Cody holds several industry certifications (including the most recent: SSCP) as well as a B.S in Cyber Security & Information Assurance from Western Governors University. […]
    It’s all about protecting Customer information . . . In 1999 the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) directed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and other federal banking agencies to ensure that financial institutions have policies, procedures, and controls in place to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of customer financial information.  The FDIC and other federal banking agencies […]
    A Ghoulish Gallery! Just a few scary-themed Awareness posters from our collection, which you can see at posters.infotex.com! Below you will find both the vertical and horizontal versions of each of the posters, all you need to do is “right-click > “Save link as…” to download! Vertical 8.5″ x 11″ Format   Horizontal 11″ x […]
    What to Expect in an Annual Information Security Report to the Board Webinar-Movie Information security ranks as a top risk to financial institutions, both in terms of likelihood and overall impact. It is important that boards receive annual comprehensive reporting from management about the information security risks and incidents, and the actions taken to address […]
    Another awareness poster for YOUR customers (and users).  Now that we have our own employees aware, maybe it’s time to start posting content for our customers! Check out posters.infotex.com for the whole collection! Download the large versions here: Awareness Poster (Portrait) Awareness Poster (Landscape)   You are welcome to print out and distribute this around […]
    With the potential to break all existing forms of encryption, quantum computing poses a unique challenge… An article review. While quantum computing has been a buzzword for some time now the technology remains largely theoretical, with small scale proofs-of-concept that still suffer from serious limitations.  That hasn’t stopped security researchers from worrying about the technology’s […]
    A new way of helping people “read” new guidance… Look for more in the future! To save you time, we are proud to present “Adam Reads” . . . recorded versions of our Guidance Summaries! Below you can find an embedded player for the audio file. If you are having issues with that working, you […]