Giving voice to cutting down on fraud

As organizations become more aggressive in protecting sensitive data from being hacked by next-generation firewalls and sophisticated passwords, con men are turning to call centres to get personal information on people to commit frauds.

But an Israeli company believes its new software-based voice biometric analysis platform can divine whether callers are speaking with forked tongues.

NICE Systems said Wednesday that its Contact Center Fraud Prevention solution includes speech analytics that combined with other anti-fraud techniques can lower the risk of call centre agents wrongly giving away personal information.
“To date there hasn’t been a specific focus on looking at fraud through the contact centre,” said Ben Knieff, global head of fraud product marketing for NICE’s Actimize division, which makes financial crime, risk and compliance software.

But the company says, human beings in contact centres can be a vulnerable spot in security.

For example, Knieff said, cons will get some information online about a person – say their bank account number – and call the contact centre to squeeze out more – like a PIN number or forwarding cash — so the con can continue.

Cons will do anything from trying to intimidate call centre agents, flatter them or use information they’ve gleaned about their target to get more information – for example, knowing one bank account number they pretend they’ve forgotten the target’s other account numbers.

Using what the industry calls social engineering, cons can be persuasive, Knieff said. One was able to get a debit card in the name of Microsoft Corp. co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen.

More recently another was able to persuade Amazon to give up enough information to destroy Wired magazine reporter Mat Honan’s Apple, Twitter and Google accounts.

Reporter’s hacking ordeal is a security lesson
Knieff wouldn’t give details, but said the voice biometrics part of Contact Center Fraud Prevention records and saves a “voice print” of certain calls, looks for suspicious indicators in what the caller is asking about and analyzes the caller ID and where the call is coming from to determine the risk level of the caller.

If it exceeds a certain threshold the software tells the agent to transfer the call to the organization’s security department for further investigation. That way front line call centre staff don’t put suspicion on a legitimate caller, Knieff said.

The solution keeps a database of suspicious calls to create a watch list of known fraudsters. It can help identify cons who call back.

NICE Systems customers include large enterprises, financial institutions and government departments. The company won’t say who its Canadian customers are, but according to news releases on its Web site they have included Bell Canada and NAV Canada.

Voice biometrics isn’t a new technology, Knieff said, but because its cost has come down its now possible to use it in fraud analysis.

A number of companies make voice recognition software including Authentify, Nuance Communications and VoiceVault. Some of these solutions are used for what Forrester Research calls silent fraud detection.

Contact Center Fraud Prevention, which includes other transactional analysis features, integrates with NICE Systems’ Interaction Manager, a complete call centre solution and its Integrated Fraud Management Suite. Through APIs, it can also be integrated with some other contact centre platforms, or it can be deployed by itself.

NICE Systems makes a range of compliance and risk solutions including fraud prevention and anti-money laundering for contact centres for a number of industries

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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