Q&A: Why are call centres so vulnerable to fraud and cyber crime?
Millions of pounds and euros are lost each year through fraudulent calls made to financial institutions' call centres.
In the UK, such companies lose £20 million a year, with the one in 700 calls recieved being fraudluent in 2015, compared to the one in 1,700 in the USA during the same period.
We spoke to Matt Peachey, VP & GM EMEA of Pindrop, providers of phone fraud detection technology to financial companies, about the growing problem and how it can be addressed.
1.How serious a problem is phone fraud for financial institutions?
MP: For financial institutions, fraud loss can be damaging – both in terms of cost and customer confidence. It’s a crime that has affected many institutions to the extent that fraud loss has evolved into an incurred cost that is considered somewhat inevitable.
Fraud on the telephone channel is a serious problem and is getting worse. Our 2016 State of Fraud Report found that financial institutions in the UK are losing £0.51 to fraud on every call. This means that large call centres, receiving an estimated 40 million calls per year, are losing an average of £20million each year to fraudsters.
The value of this fraud is staggering but what is more frightening is that this is only part of the picture. The hidden cost of fraud needs to be taken into account too. The impact this has on the customer experience can be far reaching, particularly if call centres are unable to quickly sort fraudulent from legitimate callers. Agents spend longer establishing identity before they are able to offer any assistance, which in turn can end up making genuine customers feel like criminals.
2. Why are call centres more vulnerable than other channels of communication to cyber criminals?
The drivers of this can be mostly attributed to the sophistication of security measures online and on the physical channel. 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. Chip and Pin (EMV technology) is also a lot harder to dupe than it was 10 years ago.
This has led to fraudsters changing tact and seeking additional ways to commit this type of attack. Combined with the increase in data breaches that subsequently widens the availability of personal data via the dark web, fraudsters have been driven to attack the weakest line of defence – the call centre.
3. How can you prevent callers disguised as customers from ringing up and mining the information they need?
The best way to reduce any type fraud is to make it harder for criminals to commit their crimes. Just look at EMV fraud. This is much more prevalent in the US than the UK as the technology is newer and so defences are less sophisticated. According to the Aite Group, these attacks grew 79% in the UK in the years following the Chip and Pin rollout (2005 to 2008) but are now much lower. Improved call centre defences will have a similar impact, reducing the number of fraudsters attempting to attack banks through that channel.
Current techniques deployed by mainstream banks do not do enough here. Voice biometrics are a step in the right direction but financial institutions need a multi layered approach to help them spot fraudsters instantaneously.
4. What advice would you give to financial institutions to help tackle the problem of fraud?
What we need to remember is that call centre agents aren't fraud experts. They are tasked with providing genuine customers with a great experience and as such are being targeted by criminals. By equipping agents with solutions to better identify a suspicious call quickly, banks can prevent the pre-fraud data gathering activities that can happen over the phone that subsequently leads to increased fraud across the phone and other channels.
To really tackle the problem at hand, financial institutions need to start implementing solutions that monitor and detect phone fraud. This requires multi-layered solutions that quickly and accurately detect it. Implementing IVR anti-fraud technology helps to do this by offering comprehensive call centre fraud detection on all calls. It analyses multiple layers of caller information and creates a risk score to help identify risky or suspicious callers, giving financial institutions a new way to defend against fraudsters and help reps do their jobs.
5. How does Pindrop’s solution work? Can you be sure of detecting criminal call activity?
Our patented Phoneprinting technology analyses 147 factors of call audio to uniquely identify the calling device, geography, and other information that indicates a suspicious caller. Combined, this aids in detecting fraudulent activity before it becomes an issue.
Financial institutions need to integrate this type of capability to track fraud attempts in the moment and across multiple channels and flag accounts that have suspicious activity, quickly. By putting the right authentication and fraud detection in place, banks can circumvent attempts by fraudsters to dupe businesses across all their channels while detecting and cutting criminal activity.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”