TransUnion Report Shows Fraud Attacks on Financial Industry Call Centers Rising

At a time when commerce is increasingly conducted digitally, consumers still expect and rely on call centres to deliver timely and trustworthy customer service when they need it. However, according to a new TransUnion report, these call centres have increasingly become a target for fraud, leading to a complicated balancing act of delivering efficient service and maintaining customer account security.

The new TransUnion report featured findings from its recent 2023 State of Omnichannel Authentication survey of call centre organizations to determine how organizational leaders across industries apply authentication to improve customer experience and fraud mitigation.

The survey found that more than half of respondents say that fraud attacks on call centres are on the rise, based on growth from 2021 to 2022, with financial industry respondents noting an even more acute increase, with a full 90% of respondents indicating at least some observable growth in attacks. One in five respondents from the financial industry indicated that attacks were up more than 80% over the survey period.

“Through the use of tactics such as spoofed phone numbers and social engineering, combined with personal information obtained from identity theft scams and data breaches, fraudsters have become more focused on call centres as a target to access and take over accounts (ATO),” said Lance Hood, senior director of omnichannel authentication at TransUnion. “More than ever, it’s critically important for call centres to find effective and efficient ways to separate legitimate callers from potentially fraudulent, high-risk ones in a way that reduces friction for the consumer.”

The report also shows that nearly two-thirds of financial industry respondents indicated that most account takeovers start in the call centre. Because identity fraud in financial services, such as account takeover or synthetic identities, results in direct financial crime, the financial industry has an even more pronounced incentive to guard against fraud in call centres, but in a way that is as efficient as possible for financial services organizations and their customers.

The survey showed that, for call centre organizations operating in the financial industry, 90% of respondents indicated that new technologies for fraud detection should be seamless or invisible for customers when calling. This is up from 76% for all respondents who answered the question. Similarly, 70% of respondents from the financial industry believe these technologies must provide authentication accuracy, while 80% believe these technologies should support the authentication of legitimate callers and detect risky callers.

The report highlighted the need to stop fraudsters before they can reach and socially engineer contact centre agents or probe vulnerabilities within the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems. Nearly two-thirds of financial industry respondents and 70% of survey respondents overall would like authentication to begin before any agent interaction occurs. For example, the use of technologies that will match unknown callers to the client Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can ultimately reduce the need for further agent authentication. Another example of this technology in action could be found in a pre-answer risk assessment, which can help better determine if a call is being spoofed or virtualized, the most common techniques used by fraudsters when calling into a call centre.

Implementing effective call inspection technologies such as these would allow call centre professionals to focus on providing customer service rather than interrogating peoples’ identities and at the same time, being less vulnerable to social engineering. Accordingly, callers could have their needs addressed more quickly and with less time spent on Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) questions and other forms of unnecessary friction.

“The implementation of end-to-end call inspection authentication enhancements by call centre organizations, through the use of solutions such as TruValidate, can help in the delivery of more secure and efficient experiences while protecting the call centre,” said Hood. “Identifying potential fraudsters before they have a chance to connect with a call centre agent reduces risk, allows for the agents to spend more time helping customers and less time verifying a caller is legitimate, and also allows more of an organization’s fraud-fighting resources to be targeted to those calls that are truly risky.”

TransUnion TruValidate™ orchestrates identity, device and phone call insights to help organizations interact with legitimate consumers while mitigating fraud risk. To learn more about how TruValidate can help organizations engage consumers with confidence, both digitally and by phone, click here.

TransUnion conducted an online survey in the summer of 2023 among contact centre operations, customer experience, or information technology professionals. The primary markets represented by respondents were technology and financial services.

About TransUnion (NYSE:TRU)

TransUnion is a global information and insights company with over 12,000 associates operating in more than 30 countries. We make trust possible by ensuring each person is reliably represented in the marketplace. We do this with a Tru™ picture of each person: an actionable view of consumers, stewarded with care. Through our acquisitions and technology investments we have developed innovative solutions that extend beyond our strong foundation in core credit into areas such as marketing, fraud, risk and advanced analytics. As a result, consumers and businesses can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good®—and it leads to economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for millions of people around the world.