13th October 2021
Smart Conversations

Tackling fraud in a post-COVID world

with Ian McGuire, Fraud & Biometrics Specialist, Nuance
with Ian McGuire, Fraud & Biometrics Specialist, Nuance

By Grant White

Disruption is the ideal breeding ground for fraud and there can be no greater disruptor of the market than a global pandemic. To find out what organisations can do to protect themselves and their customers from the perils of fraud, we spoke with Ian McGuire, Fraud and Biometrics Specialist at Nuance Communications – a pioneer in biometric security solutions.

Ian is an expert in fraud with a long career in technology. He is uniquely qualified to discuss the landscape today and how it’s affecting customer authentication as well as contact centre security concerns.

Grant White, Smartnumbers: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Ian. Can you talk us through, as you see it, some of the biggest challenges facing contact centres right now? 

Ian McGuire: “COVID has obviously been a massive disruptor of the landscape and has created an air of confusion. 

Initially, the switch to working from home posed problems for fraudsters as reduced capacity at the call centre decreased the number of calls that could be handled. This reduction impacted fraudsters as well as customers and we saw a decrease in instances of fraud as a result.

But now what we’ve realised is that fraudsters took this time to attack customers directly. They picked up little bits of information and data from those customers, such as account details and security details. What we see currently is a resurgence of fraud as fraudsters come back armed with newly acquired customer details.”

GW: Totally agree, the balance between introducing fraud prevention controls against a slicker authentication process is critical. Defending contact centres from this additional fraud threat is a difficult balance. On one hand, introducing stronger fraud prevention controls secures the contact centre. On the other hand, you don’t want to negatively impact caller experience for legitimate callers. How would you look to tackle this balance right now and how would you like to see customer authentication progress in the contact centre? 

IM: “I think we need to be more aware that technology is just one aspect of the experience. 

One of the core messages we look to share with our customers is that technology is just a tool – you have to then implement and use it effectively.

For example, if my wife buys a top of the range Black and Decker power tool for me, that doesn’t automatically make me any good at DIY. So yes, you need to implement the right tools which look to tackle fraud while making it easier for your customers to get through seamlessly. But you also need to educate the wider business on how it works, the processes involved, and educate front line staff as well as customers.

The customer element is critical; if you implement a voice biometric solution between the customer and agent, but don’t explain that it’s implemented, the customer could reasonably believe there is no security in place.

You need your customers to feel safe and confident that everything is happening as it should. In fact, I would say that this is perhaps the most critical part — ensuring your customers know what’s happening and why.”

GW: That makes perfect sense, so it’s about education as much as it is about technology. How can contact centre teams be better educated to spot fraud?

IM: “A primary objective for agents is always to solve customer problems. Every additional ask you make of your front line staff, you add cognitive load that could impact that objective. 

Agents have enough on their plate. They are already navigating multiple systems and following protocols and scripts while remaining professional even in the face of challenging callers. You have to be cognisant of the extra thinking you’re asking of them. 

That said, there are ways to prepare them for certain situations or scenarios and with regular coaching that behaviour can become like second nature.”

GW: Suspect that is easier said than done right now with teams working from home. What advice do you have for contact centres which find themselves operating in this way? 

IM: “It would be remiss of me not to mention biometrics. 

Voice biometrics identifies your customers’ voices so you can interact with customers in a way that they would expect you to. Meaning, they want you to know who they are and don’t want to have to remember their customer ID or answer loads of questions every time they call in. It helps remove some of the pressure from your agents and enables them to focus on providing exceptional customer service.

Of course fraudsters don’t always get to the agent and navigate the IVR to gather information. That’s where our partnership with Smartnumbers comes in. 

Using Smartnumbers Call DNA technology, a risk score is assigned to each incoming call. By combining the risk score with a ‘Bad Voice’ watchlist result, our AI risk engine generates real-time fraudster detection alerts with increased accuracy, reducing the number false positives so fraud teams can focus their efforts on real fraud attempts.

GW: Thanks for your time today. 

The next step to preventing fraud

With your teams at home and fraudsters finding new ways to exploit the chaos, learn more about how your organisation can balance customer authentication and fraud prevention by downloading our new eBook