What was the name of your first pet?
Bypassing security checks through voice recognition and combating contact centre fraud.
Everyone has a unique voice, in the same way that everyone has a unique fingerprint. It can't be forged.
"Customer service is more important than anything in a business," states Ebrahim Dinat, COO at South African customer experience solutions provider, Ocular Technologies. "This includes protecting your customer from fraud."
Unfortunately, he points out that fraudulent activities affecting contact centres have been on the rise lately.
Research by Pindrop Labs, a company focused on threats and vulnerabilities in the audio and telecommunications realms, shows that one in every 491 calls to a retail contact centre is fraudulent.
The recent case of a KwaZulu-Natal based occupational therapist brought this type of fraud to the forefront in South Africa, when she discovered incorrect debit orders on her bank statements.
A call mandate was all the company required for her money to be debited - and, yes, the company received and recorded this call it received. However, it was from a person with a radically different voice and accent to the victim.
"When most of us call a contact centre, after a few simple identity-based questions such as name, address and date of birth, we are given complete freedom over our account. Unfortunately, the same goes for a fraudster able to correctly answer the same questions, with many of the answers freely available on the Internet," explains Nick Ismail, reporter for Information Age.
He continues: "Telephone fraud also represents a low risk, low cost method for perpetrators, that is easy to carry out from anywhere thanks to the growth of VOIP networks.
"The rudimentary technology-based security that can sometimes be in place such as caller ID and automatic number identification can also be easily fooled using simple spoofing technology, making the chances of being caught extremely low.
"For this reason, it is estimated that between 30% to 50% of all fraud incidents are initiated with a phone call, meaning telephone agents in contact centres are particularly vulnerable to social engineering and manipulation.
"Furthermore, the average contact centre agent will only be dealing with a fraudster once in approximately every 2 000 calls, meaning that identifying and handling them is not a core competency for most."
Dinat says the KwaZulu-Natal call fraud is certainly not an isolated case in South Africa. "For this reason, a technology that's currently booming and that we'll be seeing much more of to combat call fraud is voice biometrics."
An example of new technology is Pindrop's patented Phoneprinting technology that creates an "audio fingerprint" of each call by analysing over 1 380 unique call features, such as voice, location, background noise, number history and call type. It highlights unusual activity, identifies potential fraud and deters fraudulent callers. It cracks down on fraudulent tactics like caller ID spoofing, voice distortion and social engineering, with no need for customers to provide any additional information.
According to leading industry analyst firm, Forrester Research: "As users increasingly demand frictionless authentication everywhere, biometrics solutions have garnered significant attention for both authentication and fraud prevention - especially on mobile and IOT devices. Furthermore, as their adoption increases, they will hasten the demise of the industry's least user-friendly method - passwords."
"Naturally, voice biometrics greatly impacts customer service. The quicker a customer is authenticated and verified, the more efficient is their journey. Precious time is saved through immediate and correct identification. At the same time, both customer and contact centre agents will no longer be targets for fraudsters, and the devastating consequences of wrong actions trustingly taken," adds Dinat.