Home Technology Phone fraud: A growing threat for the financial industry

Phone fraud: A growing threat for the financial industry

by internationalbanker


Matt Peachey - PindropBy Matt Peachey, VP & GM EMEA Pindrop 





In the past few months we have seen a growing number of banks turn to voice recognition technology in an attempt to provide a better customer experience as well as protection against fraudulent activity. With research from Pindrop having recently found that one in 700 calls to UK financial institutions are fraudulent which, when calculated against the average number of calls to a large call centre, costs between £10 to £20 million every year, this is of little surprise. Banks understand that fraudsters are continuously finding new ways to attack them and so having the right forms of defence is crucial. 

Back in February we saw HSBC and First Direct launch voice recognition services to protect themselves against this growing threat. We have also more recently seen Santander implement its SmartBank app, an application which in its second phase will allow customers to make payments, report lost cards and set up accounts all through voice activation. It’s great to see these banks embrace innovative technology and take the steps necessary to protect themselves and their customers, but it’s also important to note that one layer of defence alone is not enough to prevent phone fraud. 

So what can the financial services do to fully protect themselves against these ever-evolving forms of attack? 

Phone fraud: a new battleground for financial services

It seems that almost every day a new story emerges involving fraudulent activity. Fraud is a major issue for financial services and there is now a growing realisation that businesses are at threat from all channels. For years there has been such an emphasis around cyber security that other forms of access, such as the phone, have been left behind to decay. If you think about how online security has matured in the last decade, this line of defence has grown stronger as attacks have become more sophisticated. Other layers of defence in comparison have lacked the innovation and sophistication required to protect customers. Without this right authentication and fraud detection in place, organisations have fallen prey to continuous attacks.

Also, as call centre worker’s primary focus is to provide a great customer service and not to catch fraudsters, it is of little surprise that criminals are enjoying regular successes. Events such as Safer Internet Day are going some way to educate the workforce, but with one in 700 calls to financial institution call centres now being fraudulent, more needs to be done to teach call centre reps about the tricks and techniques fraudsters are using to commit fraud through other channels, not just the computer.

Home Secretary Teresa May recently announced that a new taskforce, consisting of police, industry bodies and government officials would be set up to help educate these workers and protect the financial services against fraudulent activity. This is certainly a step in the right direction, and should be welcomed by financial organisations, but businesses must also look to innovative technology in the battle against the fraudster. 

Voice Biometrics a new dawn for financial services

Banks understand the importance of implementing new technologies to defend themselves and improve their customer’s experiences. Whether it’s the move to online banking, the introduction of finger print technology or voice biometrics, falling behind in the fintech revolution is not an option. 

Voice recognition has become significantly more advanced in the past few years and is great at speeding up confirmation of good callers, which improves the customer experience. But fraudsters can take steps to bypass voice authentication and get straight to a contact centre agent, who they can socially engineer. In other words, voice biometrics is ineffective in grand detection and banks need to combine this with other tools if they want to catch these attackers. 

Voice biometrics is certainly a step in the right direction and will improve the customer’s experience when it comes to accessing their documents, transferring funds and protecting themselves against imposters. To truly provide these customers with the protection they need however, banks need to turn to a multi layered form of defence. One which ensures all angles are covered without hindering the ease of use which customers demand.

The need for multiple layers of defence 

Fraudsters are practiced in the art of manipulation and are well experienced at getting people to give up their confidential information or break normal security procedures. It is little surprise therefore that one layer of phone security is not enough to protect financial institutions against fraudulent attacks. Criminals have many techniques at their disposal when it comes to hiding their voice over the phone and so it’s easy to see why voice biometrics alone is not enough.

Some fraudsters change the pitch of their voice on the phone, others fake bad connections to trick call centre workers. There is also the problem of voice distortion technology which can be used to socially engineer workers into passing across confidential information. To combat these tricks and techniques, financial institutions must turn to multiple layers of defence.

Technology, such as Phoneprinting™, can identify specific components about each call such as network information, the geographical location in which the call is coming from, the device being used and whether the device has been used to contact the company before.

Combined, these tools can all aid in detecting fraudulent activity before it becomes an issue.

This quick and confident action needs to happen now. The right authentication and fraud detection must be in place to circumvent attempts by fraudsters to dupe businesses across all their channels. It’s time to act smart about fraud and make sure all bases are covered to finally remain steps ahead, reduce financial losses and maintain customer trust.


Related Articles

Leave a Comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.