Cloud Contact Center Featured Article

'Phone Printing' Latest Tool to Combat Call Center Fraud

September 19, 2013

Fraud is a major concern with any call center, especially at places like banks where large sums of money are involved. Staying ahead of the scam artists has always been a challenge, and the call centers have responded with tactics that are not always effective, are too time-consuming and can be too expensive.

The latest solution to the fraud problem has none of those disadvantages. “Phone-printing” is a process that obtains more than 100 attributes of a call to form a unique profile analogous to a fingerprint. Some of these attributes include where the call is being made, what kind of device is being used and what service is being used.

Based on these and other attributes the phone-printing process gathers, it can determine how risky a call is for fraud. Riskier calls result in alerts, which can then be handled by trained specialists.

Other tactics that call centers use to deal with fraud have mixed results and disadvantages that make them problematic.

Knowledge-based authentication (KBA) asks questions that only the customer should know. One problem with the approach is that it often asks questions that a valid customer could forget the answers to, resulting in a false positive for fraud. Many 70-year old customers don’t remember the make and model of their first car or who their third grade teacher was.

Another problem is that a scammer might know some of the answers to security questions after nosing around in someone’s personal information. KBA processes have been found to take anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds. Not good for customers in a hurry.

Voice recognition technology is growing in popularity, and it has the advantage of storing the “voice-prints” of known scammers, but it can be expensive and has some vulnerabilities that are a cause for concern.


Image courtesy Shutterstock
If a scammer fails the voice-match test, but otherwise has secure information that only the rightful account holder should have, a security compromise can still happen.

If a given customer has not yet been voice-printed, a scammer with enough information would still be able to impersonate a legitimate customer.

One of the most common techniques for compromising security is called “social engineering.” It might be more accurate to refer to it as social manipulation.

If you are familiar with the 1970s television series The Rockford Files, James Garner’s Jim Rockford was one of the best social engineering con artists there ever was. He would put on a convincing act by impersonating someone official or selling a fake crisis to an otherwise implacable gatekeeper.

In call centers, the tactic is similar. By using various psychological tactics against a customer service rep, the scam artist bypasses security protocols and soon has access to a customer’s account and sensitive data.

No matter how much technology you have, social engineering has to be addressed and procedures in place to prevent it from happening.

Phone printing may be one affordable way to address the problem, but it only has a detection rate of 80 percent. An organized operation throwing enough scammers at a bank’s call center will gladly take a success rate of 20 percent with all the money at stake. By itself, phone-printing is probably not the answer, but as one component of a thorough security protocol, it could be a useful tool.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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