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Contact Center-based Fraud Is on the Rise

May 18, 2017

While data breaches at large organizations such as banks or retail giants grab the lion’s share of headlines, it’s important to remember that fraud and identity theft can affect businesses of every type and size. As large companies fortify their networks and fight aggressively against attacks, many fraudsters have abandoned the high-profile organizations in search of softer targets, and they’re finding them in small businesses and contact centers.

Pindrop Labs’ recently released 2017 Call Center Fraud Report found that contact center fraud rates rose 113 percent last year over 2015. In 2016, one in 937 calls to a contact center is fraudulent compared to one in 2,000 calls in the previous year. The report is based on the analysis of more than 500 million contact center calls. In addition, the report found that 45 percent of fraud calls are coming from VoIP lines, an increase of seven percent over the previous year, and 43 percent are originating from mobile devices, an increase of 25 percent compared to the previous year. Only 17 percent of fraud in the U.S. is domestic: the majority of frauds originated outside the U.S.

Today, the phone is being used as part of a multichannel attack, David Dewey, director of Pindrop Labs, told Dawn Kawamoto in an interview. The contact center is an ideal source for gaining additional information about customers in order to take over a person’s identity.

“Reaching a call center and speaking with an agent provides the fraudster with an upper hand,” said Dewey. “A call center agent’s job is to provide quality customer service and not stop fraud.”

Fraudsters with social security numbers and names might, for example, call a contact center and play the bewildered customer in an effort to gain user names, passwords and addresses from an agent, and agents may not be trained to spot the “phishing” exercise. In addition, with the ease of “spoofing” legitimate phone numbers, fraudsters are able to get around the caller ID authentication many contact centers rely on for authentication.

Fraudsters are also going more multichannel and attempting to gain access to customer accounts using text, which most contact centers are equipped to handle nowadays. The best advice is for contact centers to train agents to spot “phishing” and use technology solutions that can analyze call traffic and spot suspicious activity without human oversight.

Solutions such as iconectiv’s Right Party Verification for Messaging, a complement to the company’s Messaging Solution, were designed to help companies that engage with customers via mobile channels ensure they’re communicating with real customers. This technology is particularly crucial as more companies rely on mobile channels to allow customers to reset PIN numbers and passwords. 

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