15th April 2024

Fraudsters are using the phone more than you realise 

By Matthew Addison

With all the focus on increasing cybersecurity and educating customers about online scams, you’d be forgiven for thinking contact centre fraud is not a risk. In fact fraudsters are using contact centres more than you realise, writes Matthew Addison.

It’s true, telephony fraud is relatively rare. It is not so common for fraudsters to call a contact centre and directly access a customer account by phone and steal their money. It happens and it’s an issue, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to contact centre fraud.

Our research shows that as many as 1 in 500 calls to a contact centre could be from fraudsters and those fraudsters can make on average 26 calls before initiating their attack. And while each of those calls may not always lead directly to a customer being defrauded, they help active fraudsters build a picture of a contact centre’s defences and security practices. 

Fraudsters use the telephony channel for a few critical tasks: 

Reconnaissance: collecting and validating stolen customer information to use to commit fraud in other channels, for example. Or monitoring compromised accounts to see when regular large payments are normally received, so that fund transfers can be timed accordingly. Or gathering personal data from a Local Authority record or confirming they are a customer of yours so that they can send a spoofed text message. 

Preparation: carrying out tasks that enable fraud elsewhere, such as adding a name to a utilities bill which can be used for identity theft elsewhere. Or changing an address on a bank account.

Most of this kind of fraudulent activity in the contact centre is hidden or not noticed due to the subtle and apparently low-risk nature of each engagement. It is also often carried out by bots calling over and over to test out which number and data combinations work in the IVR, without making it through to an account or agent.

But the signs are there and can be spotted if you know what you are looking for. And you have the technology to do so. And in fact they provide a huge opportunity to prevent downstream fraud not only in the contact centre, but across all your customer channels.

As cyber security becomes more robust and public awareness of scams grows, we will see growing exploitation of the telephony channel from fraudsters. 
If you’d like to learn more, please contact us. You can also download the full report.