Monday, February 27, 2006

Waging war on pretexting, one state bar at a time

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (aka EPIC) has been waging war on the practice of "pretexting", which is most popularly associated with private investigators calling under under a fake identity with a fake rationale to get information about somebody they are investigating. Now, EPIC is taking it to the state bar associations in the US as they have concluded that lawyers are some of the prime consumers of pretexting services. In a letter sent to all the state bars, EPIC is calling upon the ethics bodies each state to issue an advisory opinion to prevent lawyers from using investigators who employ pretexting:

State Ethical Boards Must Take Action to Protect the Integrity of the Profession

We urge you to take action to review these practices under the ethical rules of your state. Pretexting involves using fraud to trick a company into releasing private personal information. We believe that hiring investigators or other services to engage in pretexting implicates ABA Model Rules 1.2, 3.4, 4.1, 4.4, and 8.4. We urge you to analyze the practice of pretexting under the ethical rules in force in your State.

We realize that attorneys may unwitting participants in this practice. They may hire investigators to locate witnesses or perform other functions without being aware that pretexting was being employed. Accordingly, issuing an advisory opinion or highlighting this issue in communications to members of the Bar may be appropriate action to addressing use of pretexting.

See also: EPIC West: Electronic Privacy Information Center West Coast Office: Pretexting and Attorneys' Ethical Rules

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