Bank call centers using voice verification

May 23, 2012 - 

Call centers need to be able to quickly response to issues such as false identification and fraud since more and more digitally engineered attacks are on the rise.  Because of their susceptibility, more financial institutions are considering using voice biometrics to fight call center fraud.

A recent paper published by Aite, a financial services consultancy, cited call centers as the weakest security link in financial institutions. U.S. banks have noted a rising number of cases where customer service representatives are tricked into sharing and changing banking account details.  If fraudsters find it tough to attack the technology and its protective layers, they find it easier to con unsuspecting customer service representatives to siphon money out of other people’s account.   Fraudsters easily can get not just personal details but also passwords and answers to security questions.

Financial institutions have identified voice biometrics as one of the best means to secure its client accounts and financial information.  Voice biometrics compares various characteristics drawn from a person’s voice such as inflection, pitch, dialect, among others, and matches that with data captured.   For voice recognition to work it requires banks and other financial institutions to register their clients voice patterns and correlate them to personal data for incorporation into a database.

Some security experts question the strength of voice biometrics in fighting call center fraud noting the problems with false positive identifications.  False positives are the equivalent of unverified identities.  False positives require callbacks for further verification and authentication, which ends up being more costly and time consuming for the call center.

But voice biometrics is just one of the layers identified for security purposes. Some banking institutions have invested in sending their call center representatives to fraud prevention training sessions and adopting out-of-band verification for phoned-in transactions.

Avivah Litan, fraud analyst for Gartner, said that the use of external challenge questions by call center staff accounted to a 15 to 20 percent failure rate for one financial institution.  Verifications such as recent bill payments, location where the payment was made, and inquiries on a latest balance, have all provided better security than the knowledge-based questions.

One company, Victrio, however has a new approach in voice biometrics as means of security against call center frauds. Tony Rajakumar, founder of Victrio said their products rely on a database of biometric voiceprints that screens calls in real-time.  It makes use of a broad database, even extending to United States and United Kingdom, alerting the institutions whenever a suspicious voice or those voices linked to previous fraud incidents comes in.   Instead of registering each client, Victrio uses the database to identify fraudsters.

Previous voice biometrics technology had not factored in fraud prevention as the core driver. Will this new approach reduce fraud?

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.