Tuesday, 11th December 2018

Turning the tide: Using voice biometrics to win the war against contact centre fraudsters

Contact centre fraud costs businesses hundreds of millions of pounds every year, but the growing adoption of voice biometrics looks set to put an end to that.  Tom Harwood, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Aeriandi discusses how criminals are increasingly finding their own voices being used against them.

Financial fraud has always been big business for criminals, but the unstoppable rise of internet and telephone shopping, combined with the growing emphasis on 24/7 customer service means there have never been so many channels through which they can pursue it. From January to June 2016, one incident of financial fraud took place every 15 seconds, according to Financial Fraud Action. That is a staggering statistic, which unfortunately reflects a 53% increase on the same period in 2015.
Thankfully the industry is fighting back. Online security has made significant strides recently, with new technology such as multi-factor authentication and behavioural monitoring making it significantly harder for criminals to make off with sensitive information. However, when one door shuts, criminals typically look for another one to open and unfortunately the telephone offers just that at the moment.
When most of us call a contact centre to make a payment or query our account information, the only security steps taken to verify our identity by the telephone agent is a few simple questions such as name, address and date of birth. If answered correctly, we are considered verified and given free reign over our. Unfortunately, if a fraudster can answer those same questions correctly then they too will get the same access. In the age of social media, many of the answers to these security questions are freely available online, making it all too simple for criminals to get the information they need.
All of this is bad news for contact centres. It is estimated that up to 50% of all financial fraud incidents today are initiated by a phone call, making telephone agents particularly vulnerable. With the vast majority of agents lacking the training or experience to spot potentially fraudulent callers, the situation is growing increasingly serious. Because of this, businesses are starting to look at innovative new technology-based solutions that can take the human element out of the equation completely, and voice biometrics does just that.
Voice biometrics uses criminals’ own voices against them
Research shows that whilst the volume of telephone fraud incidents is on the rise, the number of actual perpetrators remains relatively static. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 95% of all fraudulent call activity worldwide is conducted by the same group of professional criminals. This has allowed authorities to build up a global database of known fraudsters and their voice signatures over time.
An effective voice biometrics solution is able to compare every caller into a contact centre against this global database, enabling known fraudsters to be swiftly identified. The best telephone fraudsters are extremely adept at social engineering and manipulation, but with a biometrics solution in place, these factors are taken out of the equation completely. The agent is subtly notified as soon as a voice match is confirmed and the caller can then be quarantined from any sensitive information. The entire biometric process is also completely transparent, meaning callers will not even know it is taking place unless an issue is raised.
Voice biometrics can also be deployed as part of a wider security solution, alongside other measures such as intelligent fraud detection, for even greater protection. Intelligent fraud detection scores every incoming call against a series of key risk factors such as audio characteristics, geo-location and phone number reputation to create an overall risk score. The agent receives an on-screen notification displaying the call’s score, along with custom instructions for how to further authenticate the call as necessary. This complements voice biometrics very well by providing additional protection against fraudulent callers who may not be part of the global voice database yet.
Telephone security in many businesses still lags dangerously behind internet security, but the introduction of innovative new solutions such as voice biometrics is helping to redress the balance. One of the most powerful weapons in a fraudster’s arsenal is the ability to hide behind anonymity and manipulate telephone agents using social engineering. Voice biometrics eliminates this from the equation, providing significantly higher levels of protection to agents and ensuring that criminals have nowhere to hide.
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