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Written by: Pindrop

Contact Center Fraud & Authentication Expert

The world is dealing with a “hundred-year” event, caused by what we all know now as COVID-19. But countries and critical businesses such as those in banking, finance, and insurance will have to figure out ways to continue to operate through this crisis, hopefully setting precedents and processes that will prevent business slowdown should another global event occur. 

For call center professionals, the rise in fraud in addition to optimizing operations and the workforce from home, are top of mind as businesses move towards remote-work as the standard. 

In this post, we will take a look at the impact a mass move to remote work could have on businesses – particularly those in banking, finance, and insurance who have unique challenges around the safeguarding of sensitive information.

What Happened

On March 11, as the WHO declared the sickness a pandemic and cases began popping up within the United States, work from home recommendations turned into orders as entire organizations started to work together, apart. In the span of days and weeks, almost the whole U.S. economy has been shocked, with persons losing employment but also businesses trying their best to get up and running from millions of individual households. 

The result of this is a massive move to remote-work conditions for millions of Americans overnight. Unfortunately, as companies scramble to organize their workforce and optimize their operations, there is evidence that the chaos caused by quick shifts to remote work and concern over the global response to the disease, has been used as an opportunity for fraudsters to target businesses and consumers. 

What This Means For You

Traditional call center designs encourage agents to be in relatively close quarters. But, official recommendations warning that we should no-longer gather in groups larger than ten or risk spreading disease poses an immediate and severe threat to business productivity and security. For call centers, this means fewer agents on the phone until you can ramp up your ‘remote call center,’ and if you are able to seamlessly transfer to work from home for the majority of your agents, you now contend with the uptick in phishing and social engineering from fraudsters. 

The FTC has already begun warning consumers of medical and finance-related scams; across the pond, the U.K. has sent out bulletins to the public as citizens have fallen prey to scammers offering everything from face masks to investment opportunities. This increase in phishing activity aimed at consumers translates to more calls from scammers equipped with better-verified information. These scammers would be fitted with “fresh” information directly from consumers. 

Our latest figures say that $4 billion worth of fraud comes through the phone channel. With the addition of the panic-driven social engineering schemes the current climate offers, companies must contend with structural changes, concern themselves with operations management and optimization, fight professional fraudsters. They must also put in place advanced fraud detection solutions that use machine learning to give companies an advantage. It is all a perfect storm for scammers and fraudsters. The market must adapt at the speed of cheaters and ensure that the same or better controls you had in place in-office still exist in your agents’ and analysts’ livingrooms. 

What You Can Do

As work from home expands, fraudulent schemes and fraud actors evolve, and so must the protections needed to thwart them. Here are three operational additions that can significantly reduce the amount of fraud coming through your work from home call center. 

#1 Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning and artificial intelligence can identify and score risk; they deepen anti-fraud protocols and do so for each call that enters your call center. Finding a solution that provides real-time risk alerts and intelligence around each request is more important than ever as calls increase, phishing increases, and the need to identify fraudsters quickly and move on also rises (in response to substantial call volumes). Machine learning and A.I. allows for the analysis of flagged fraud calls and provides feedback for advanced machine learning models. As long as ML and A.I. are in place, call center agents working from home will have those calls routed through technology that can quickly and efficiently help identify fraudsters and reduce the related costs. 

#2 Effective Case Management

Increased call volumes cause case backlogs, slowing down your fraud teams as they frantically review call after call. The delays in review time allow fraud through the phone channel and the costs associated with it. Working from home often complicates this, especially when employees’ home setups do not closely mimic those they are used to in the office. Higher call volumes, fraud case backlogs, and reduced productivity can lead to increased fraud costs. But effective case management can address the call volumes with adjustable risk thresholds to help fight the case backlogs. All of these actions to improve case management would reduce the amount of fraud that actually “makes it through.”

#3 Risk Scoring

When working from home, productivity is often reduced in the beginning as employees learn how to balance the pressures of “home” during the workday. Risk scoring may route calls directly to fraud departments when the scores reach a specific threshold. This strategy is a good one and undoubtedly reduces the chances fraud will slip through, however with call centers dealing with massive ques and pushing call center representatives to please the customer- many may be rushing protocols in favor of customer satisfaction. This rushing could result in increased fraudster success. To combat this, call center leadership should implement new processes that a.) help better train customer service representatives to identify fraud, and b.) allow customer service agents to act once they have determined that fraud. A good example would be routing risk scores to agents’ screens before calls connect. Genuine callers are met with your normal process while those deemed to be a risk would be routed differently.

As fraud opportunities increase and tactics change to reflect the panic many may be feeling, we should expect there to be increased fraud activity, which means an increase in losses associated with that fraud. To address this anticipated increase, technological advances like machine learning and artificial intelligence will prove invaluable as the best ways to conquer fraud no matter where your agents, fraud managers, and callers are seated. 

To learn more about hardening your call center, virtual or not against the rise in targeted fraud attacks, contact us today and see Pindrop® Protect in action.