Mike Haley – Deputy Chief Executive, Cifas

The amount of identity fraud has doubled over the last decade, and by 20% over the last two years. Almost 173,000 cases of identity fraud were reported by UK organisations last year, the highest levels ever recorded.

At Cifas, we work with businesses, charities, public bodies and individuals to detect, deter and prevent fraudulent activity. We know identity fraud is on the rise and we don’t expect the number of instances to decrease any time soon.

Whenever a fraudster contacts an organisation pretending to be a genuine customer, data is their intended target. And attackers are now so sophisticated in their methods that the traditional methods of security – such as knowledge-based authentication – aren’t enough to protect sensitive customer data.

In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of social engineering, where fraudsters contact call centres and manipulate the conversation to get information about customers. They might pretend to be the wife of a customer, or claim to be calling on behalf of someone who can’t speak English. Whatever the conceit, attackers have become masters of extracting key information from their targets.

Armed with just a handful of details about a customer, fraudsters can then target financial institutions and use this information to gain access to bank accounts or other financial products.

Fraudsters are innovating – you should too

Your business needs to tackle the ever-evolving threat by investing in modern technologies that provide a multi-layered approach to fraud prevention. This means robust, omnichannel defence measures. Every channel your customers can contact you through needs protection, whether online, face-to-face, or over the phone.

Voice – and the call centre by extension – is a particularly vulnerable channel. It’s seen some of the biggest increases in fraudulent activity in recent years. Nearly 50% of bank account takeovers, for example, were committed over the phone.

However, there are various technologies available for countering fraud specifically on this channel. Voice biometrics (analysing a customer’s voice to identify its unique characteristics) and similar technologies allow call centre operatives to distinguish between genuine customers and fraudsters. Crucially, they act as an immediate barrier to fraudsters while allowing businesses to quickly onboard honest callers. This way, they strike the right balance between security and customer experience.

For full protection, these types of solution need to form part of a wider and more robust omnichannel fraud strategy that covers every customer touchpoint. But with identity theft becoming an increasingly complex threat, these technologies have a vital role to play.

Read this Gartner report on how to stop your contact centre from being the weakest link in fraud prevention.

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