26th January 2024

Contact centres must play a key role in the fight against fraud

By Grant White

Protecting contact centres is essential if we are to combat fraud across the board and risk assessment of incoming calls is the way to do it.

This is an excerpt from our Contact Centre Security Report 2023: the hidden fraud lurking in the shadows. You can download the full report here.

It’s time to spot fraud before it happens and the call centre is the place to do it. According to recent UK Government statistics, fraud accounts for 40% of all crime and costs the UK a staggering £7 billion annually. And according to Aite Group, almost two-thirds (61%) of that fraud touches the contact centre at some stage.

At Smartnumbers, we’ve long known the contact centre is vulnerable: often neglected by wider anti-fraud measures, it has become the first touchpoint in a much broader fraud lifecycle. Fraud tactics may vary from one individual to the next, but the patterns are unmistakable. Fraudsters validate and harvest personal data by attacking the IVR and by employing smart social engineering techniques with call agents.

These steps are often quickly followed by savvy preparation, enriching compromised data by changing the registered address or contact information on the account. Now the fraudster can access accounts and make off with a customer’s money before anyone has realised it happened. 

What can be done? The problem for contact centre leaders and fraud prevention teams has always been balancing recognising high-risk, suspicious calls with compliance obligations and improving the customer experience. This is especially challenging when it’s first time you see the caller details, or they come from spoofed or withheld numbers. 

The good news is that there are some actions you can take right now to lower your exposure and eliminate some risks. The even better news is that there are ways to collaborate with other companies and tackle the problem together. But the best news is there are means to provide you with an early warning system before calls even touch your infrastructure. 

Applying static rules and logic to catch out fraudsters can be a fool’s errand. Fraudsters are cunning and probe controls to deduce the rules you have in place – perhaps quicker than you can make changes. It is this slippery and elusive behaviour that makes implementing the proper infrastructure and technology ecosystem so critical. 

Finding the right balance between providing a seamless experience for customers and preventing fraud can be tricky without the right approach. The Smartnumbers platform offers monitors and assesses all contact centre calls for some of the UK’s largest contact centres. It collects and analyses data from hundreds of millions of caller interactions and helps our clients identify the first signs of fraud and authenticate known and trusted customers seamlessly. 

Read the full report here.