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The Distraction Factor: In Times of Disruption, Fraudsters See an Opportunity

Opportunistic fraudsters are utilizing evolving scripts and increasingly sophisticated technologies and tactics to exploit contact center teams amid heightened distraction.

Contact center agents and analysts are now telecommuting in large numbers. They often find it challenging to navigate the myriad distractions that naturally occur over the course of an average workday at home. Well aware of this transition and its associated challenges, scammers are taking advantage of this new reality by capitalizing on the chaos and confusion.

Anything but an Average Day for a Telecommuting Contact Center Agent

It’s 6:00 AM on Monday. Pam is about to hit snooze before waking up the kids for school. But then, the reality sets in — the kids aren’t going to school. Not today, not tomorrow, nor the day after that. If only her husband could help. But he’s an RN and is required to quarantine at a hotel indefinitely.

Pam scrambles to get her three young children out of bed, fed, and organized to begin their virtual school lessons for the day. She has to hustle to clock in by 8 AM at her very own “home office” — a converted corner of the living room close enough to make sure the kids stay on task, but not so close that she’ll be distracted by them … too much.

She keeps her youngest, Tommy, nearby. He entertains himself (and his mom as much as possible) with his LeapPad lessons and his dad’s old iPad. Pam pours herself a quick cup of coffee before starting her workday. She looks up to find Tommy attempting to charge his tablet by jamming its power cable into one of the USB ports on her work laptop.

Pam rushes over, sloshing coffee all over her shirt, and manages to get Tommy set up in his own space as she logs in to her computer. Flustered, she quickly checks her email before taking her first call of the day to the sound of Peppa Pig, oinking in the background.

Business as Usual …

Pam’s first few calls are smooth enough — just people looking for some help with mortgage or credit questions, and it starts to feel like maybe this won’t be one of those pull-your-hair-out kinds of days.

Until, of course, that fatal call comes in, right as the credits are running on the second episode of Peppa. Tommy is getting antsy, the internet is running slower than yesterday, and there’s no time to see if Brandon is actually doing schoolwork or chewing up bandwidth downloading skateboarding videos. 

To say it’s not an ideal work environment is an understatement, but to Pam, it sounds like the guy on the other line has it even worse than her.

I know you’re probably hearing this all the time right about now, but I’m caring for a family friend who is in critical care from complications of COVID-19. His family asked that I help … they’re all out-of-state. He has medical bills piling up, and no one knows what to do. I have all of his information here … we need you to make an ACH transfer into his account so we can get this all taken care of. 

Pam’s caller easily passes through the KBA authentication process, accurately answers security questions, and sounds like a genuine person. She places the caller on hold and tenses as she sees that calls are backing up. She’s already been on the phone for over 10 minutes with this caller and can’t get through to any of her usual fraud analysts, who are also backlogged and trying to put out fires themselves.  

With Tommy crawling all over her lap, the older kids whining for a snack, and her caller growing increasingly impatient, Pam approves the transfer. And just like that, a fraudster slips through the cracks.

Why It Matters

The distraction factor is a real and immediate challenge for financial institutions that rely upon contact centers to detect fraud and provide a high level of customer service.

In “normal” times, scammers pass KBA authentication approximately 60% of the time, and that’s when agents and analysts are equipped with a fully-optimized, three-screen desktop environment and a bullpen of teammates. In the current environment, fraudsters have a better chance of passing through at an even greater rate.

What You Can Do About it Now

Understanding how the security threats to your contact center are changing will help you prepare your employees for the dynamics of working more efficiently during these unique times. 

It’s critical that all of your agents and analysts get familiar with the new “scripts” and tactics that scammers are using to fraud call centers. If your teams know what contact center fraud sounds like in the age of coronavirus, they’ll be better prepared to effectively detect and prevent fraud, at least in the interim. 

Optimizing your remote workforce can also go a long way to help companies deal with both high call volume and increased distractions. Giving your team the tools and support they need is crucial.

How to Plan for the Future

Even as you defend against current fraud threats, the best strategy is to begin planning for tomorrow, today. With ever-evolving and increasingly sophisticated fraud tactics and technologies, businesses everywhere are having trouble staying ahead of the curve, to the tune of losses in the billions. 

Forward-thinking companies will look to employ tools that are equal to the task of warding off even the most sophisticated fraudsters — no matter the circumstances.

Pindrop’s anti-fraud and authentication solutions take some of the pressure off of your contact center agents by arming them with sophisticated AI technology that’s tuned in to the latest tactics. Multi-factor monitoring and deep learning technology give your team the confidence to do their job well under any circumstances.