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Pindrop Security’s voice analysis system reduces up to 90% of phone fraud, says CEO


BiometricUpdate.com recently posed questions to Vijay Balasubramaniyan, Ph.D., the chief executive officer and co-founder of Pindrop Security in an exclusive interview. The company is a leader in phone fraud prevention and call center authentication.

Pindrop Security is noted for its innovative technology that detects where a call has originated through analysis of audio quality and line noise. The system, in effect, analyzes every call and determines whether it is trustworthy or not, by using patented algorithms and techniques that re-create and analyze the conditions in which calls are placed.

Pindrop Security claims it is able to identify between 80 to 90 percent of their client’s fraudulent calls.

Q: Please describe Pindrop’s patented “Phoneprinting” technology.

Pindrop and “Phoneprinting” were born out of my Ph.D. work at Georgia Tech, when I wanted to determine what could be discovered in an audio signal from a telephone call, which I found out was quite a lot. Initially, we were able to determine the identity of a caller, the caller’s location and the type of device from which the call was being made.

Today, Phoneprinting is capable of analyzing a call based on 147 distinctive audio signatures to create a unique fingerprint for specific devices, applications and regions. The technology identifies anomalies in the call’s audio, such as noise, spectrum and VoIP packet loss. Phoneprinting can track callers, determine their location and device type and identify ANI spoofing within 15-20 seconds. The technology is so effective that it detects more than 80 percent of fraudulent calls into call centers and prevents more than 95 percent of potential fraud losses.

Q: How does your technology combat increasing phone fraud?

Security on the phone channel has remained static for nearly 40 years. As a result, phone fraudsters have been able to execute their crimes through a variety of methods such as performing social engineering tactics and exploiting technical vulnerabilities such as Caller ID spoofing to convince call center representatives of a false identity and gain access into personal accounts. This technology is imperative in situations such as a major retailer data breach, where the fraudster is able to correctly answer several personal questions to a bank or financial institution without pause in order to gain access into a personal account. By tagging a caller with a Phoneprint and analyzing characteristics in real time, call center representatives are warned of a fraudulent caller while they are still on the line, preventing fraudsters from collecting other personal identity data or money from a compromised account.

Q: What are the top phone scams affecting consumers?

We tracked the various phone scams and tactics fraudsters are using in 2014 and recently released a list of the top ten scams affecting consumers. The list includes:

1. Credit cards: Offers for reduced interest rates on credit card accounts.
2. Home security systems: Robocalls offering free home security systems – often referencing “string of local burglaries.”
3. Spam text messages: Offers prize if victim visits site or calls number.
4. Free cruise: Requires “winner” to pay taxes on trip.
5. Government grants: “Winner” receives grant for being good citizen; required to pay “processing fee.”
6. Microsoft tech support: Fraudster offers to fix a virus for a fee.
7. Auto insurance: Offers for lower car insurance rates.
8. Payday loans: Targets people who have applied for payday loans in the past.
9. IRS scam: Victims are told they owe unpaid taxes and penalties under threat of arrest.
10. Bank scams: Victims are required to divulge personal information to “unfreeze” their bank account.

Q: What industries are adopting your technology?

Industries in which call centers are used for customer support are all extremely susceptible to phone fraudsters working to gain access to accounts, money and other assets. Finance, retail and marketing have been among the fastest to adopt Pindrop’s technology. In fact, it has been selected by two of the top four banks in the U.S., two of the top brokerages in the U.S. and two of the largest retailers in the U.S.

Financial institutions use our technology to detect fraudsters attempting to complete fraudulent stock trades or wire money to accounts they control. Retailers stand to lose significant amounts of money and merchandise to phone fraudsters and are using Pindrop to identify and thwart attempts to steal by fraudulent callers.

Affiliate marketing companies use Pindrop’s Phone Reputation Service, the world’s largest database of phone number reputations, to prevent robocallers from reaching their customers.

Q: In addition to your technology, what are three best practices to avert contact center fraud?

1. As a consumer, if you receive a suspicious phone call, tell the caller that you’ll call them directly. Fraudsters will try to give you a phone number, but instead of taking their number down, look up the number of the institution they claim they’re calling from independently.

2. Check the online presence of the institution the caller is claiming they’re from. Does the Web site, social profiles, and copy look or read suspicious?

3. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a call, do not give away any information. Avoid verifying or confirming information, as fraudsters are looking to gather any and all information they can from you.

Overall, if you think the call sounds suspicious, it very likely could be. Being aware of the phone scams that are happening and do some research or hang up and call the organization back directly, if you think the person on the other end of the phone is not who they identified themselves as. Awareness is a critical piece of staying ahead of the threat.

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