Call Center Fraud Is Up by 113 Percent, a Telecom Security Group Says

Back in 2015, one in every 2,000 calls into a call center was fraudulent, but in 2016, that rate grew to one in every 937 calls, according to telecommunications security and research company Pindrop Lab’s 2017 Call Center Fraud Report. The change represents a 113 percent increase in fraud year over year, according to Pindrop, and every fraudulent call represents a loss of roughly $0.58 for the business.

“The sheer growth of the problem was pretty eye-opening. We saw fraud rates increase by 45 percent from 2013 to 2015, but then they doubled between 2015 and 2016. We expected to see the problem grow, but we didn't necessarily expect to see it hockey stick like that,” says David Dewey, director of research, Pindrop.

Fraudsters likely target call centers because they see them as an organizational weak spot, the report suggests. For example, it’s now common to use Skype or Google Voice to hide identity and location while placing fraudulent phone calls, because caller ID and location data is not reliable as it pertains to these call routes. Plus, customer service agents aren’t necessarily trained to identify fraudulent interactions—they’re trained to deliver positive customer service experiences, and being overly suspicious toward customers could be misconstrued as poor service.

Though companies are aware of the problem and do take steps to prevent fraud, the technology powering fraud is evolving faster than the technology built to curtail it. “Many organizations are currently trying to stop phone fraud by blacklisting the caller IDs of known fraudsters, but there are several solutions readily available for caller ID spoofing that render blacklisting completely useless,” Dewey says. As a result, fraud is likely to grow. “I expect to see caller ID spoofing used more and more in the coming years,” he adds.

Industries across the board are hurt by call center fraud, but device insurance companies—those that insure mobile devices, for example—see the highest rate of fraud. According to Pindrop, one in every 194 calls is fraudulent. Credit card companies see their share of fraud as well, but only receive one in 800 fraudulent calls. Plus, the rate of fraud for credit card companies has been fairly consistent throughout the years.

To reduce fraudulent calls, Dewey recommends approaching call center security holistically, rather than plugging holes where fraud may seep in. “Enterprises need to take a multilayered approach to preventing fraud in their call centers. Only through the combination of phone printing, voice printing, and behavioral analytics can they expect to reduce their fraud losses,” he says.

Additionally, companies may want to shy away from evaluating call center agent performance based on how quickly they resolve service calls. Though resolution speed is an important performance metric, hurried agents may be less likely to pay attention to suspicious behavior and may miss signs of potential call fraud.

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