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Written by: Mike Yang

Citizens expect to be able to contact their government agencies over the phone. Even though contact center representatives are trained to look out for red flags and call characteristics associated with fraud, the lack of multi-layered authentication, the use of social engineering, and the exploitation of the black market enables fraudsters to gain access to a multitude of classified information.
“Are you really who you say you are?”
Agencies are taking advantage of the advent of online services, which simultaneously removed many of the barriers linked with face-to-face contact. The lack of multi-layered authentication in current systems allows fraudsters in the public sector to use stolen identities and information to benefit from public assistance programs like Medicaid and food stamps. Fraudsters constantly change their approach with advances in technology; however, and the government is struggling to keep up.
Security is key in combating fraud, and in recent years, legislation and other forms of guidance have been set in place to recognize the importance of multi-layered authentication for cybersecurity. These efforts have been employed at the federal level by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), National Security Council (NSC), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Fraudsters work hard to break down the integrity of federal programs, which can be attributed to the decline of public trust in government.
Five Main Concerns:

  1. Protect citizen data – Agencies and organizations within the public sector hold a wealth of valuable data about citizens.
  2. Safeguard government data – Without secure authentication, classified government information could be unknowingly leaked to a fraudster who socially engineers a contact center representative.
  3. Increase public safety – Through phone scams, social engineering, and other forms of phishing for information, fraudsters use data gained from the phone channel to plan or raise money for terrorist attacks.
  4. Reduce abuse of resources – Time dedicated to weighing the risk of a caller not only takes away from the purpose of the organization, but also financially hinders agencies with limited budgets.
  5. Stop fraud loss – Fraud loss is often only associated with financial loss; however, the information lost to data breaches can be just as detrimental for an organization. For example, passport theft can be used to conceal an identity, potentially facilitating other criminal activity.

Layered authentication is necessary to secure the call center and prevent fraudsters from gaining access to sensitive information. Significant measures have been taken to protect information online and in in-person situations; however, a focus on phone channel vulnerabilities is still missing from these efforts.
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