Identity thieves are now using phone records

It's official - identity thieves are getting smarter, as reports from the US suggest that identity fraudsters are using phone records to assist them in gathering personal information.

In what experts are calling "pretexting," fraudsters are calling the phone companies and posing as the customer, asking for information on their recent calls, ostensibly for billing purposes.

The problem is a potentially major one, as the US National Consumers' League has issued a warning in its latest monthly magazine.

According to the NCL, your telephone records can reveal a lot about you including your address, the local and long distance numbers dialed from your phone number, and the numbers from which reverse charge calls were accepted. And says the consumer group, mobile phone records can be equally revealing.

By the book, of course, the telcos shouldn't release this kind of information over the phone. They should verify your ID then offer to mail it out via the post.

But the fraudsters can be quite persuasive.

The $64,000 question is whether BT and the mobile phone companies could be similarly fooled in the UK....