Call centers are starting to move away from KBA as new technologies emerge. The number of facilities looking for alternatives has doubled since 2018, with 17 percent utilizing MFA to better protect against fraud. The need for newer, stringent authentication comes as call centers — especially those for banks and other financial services — are getting hit with increasingly sophisticated fraud. A recent survey found that 51 percent of financial service professionals believe that phone channels see the greatest number of ATO attempts.
The healthcare industry is also busy fending off fraudsters in its contact centers, especially as seniors face an increase in phishing attempts and robocalls. Fraud protection is thus a high priority for all call centers, regardless of their industries. Call center leaders know this, as shown by the 91 percent who cited it as important.
Consumers are losing faith in passwords, PINs and similar KBA verification methods, but they also refuse to sacrifice speed and convenience for greater security — quick and easy user enrollment remains a top priority for that same 91 percent of call center industry leaders. Many call centers are looking to marry passwords and PINs with tools like biometrics because of this. Solutions like these rely more on who customers are rather than what they know. Users’ voices, how they hold their phones or type and their fingerprints are all factors call centers are examining for more secure authentication.
Call centers must maintain the ease of use customers have come to expect, while still protecting them from fraudsters. Implementing biometric verification in tandem with other tools could help call centers looking to move away from KBA. What is most notable about these newer authentication methods is that they do not always rely on the customers themselves. They instead work on the back end to ensure customers actually are who they say they are.
Voice biometrics and the slow death of KBA
Call centers are not alone in looking to change their authentication methods, but they are one of the industries in which innovation is most necessary. ATO attempts are on the rise in these facilities, especially as bad actors gain access to newer technologies. Forty percent of call center leaders saw more criminal activity through virtual calls compared to spoofing attempts, for example. Fraudsters targeted new account creations and payments, but account logins remained relatively safe from quarter to quarter in 2018.
Call centers are experimenting with hybrid methods to combat ATOs, phishing and other types of fraud. This type of MFA will combine certain KBA elements, such as usernames, with alternate authentication measures that are harder to obtain in data breaches.
Biometrics, which verify customers’ identities through different factors inherent in their voices, are particularly useful for call centers. Technology provider ID R&D has released upgrades to its biometric voice platform that allow for authentication across multiple channels, for example. This platform is compatible with a range of devices, including Android and Apple phones, and uses a combination of AI, behavioral and anti-spoofing technologies for better authentication.
Twilio is among those using AI to make voice prints a form of back-end authentication. The company applies it to live voice calls, text messages, WhatsApp and other customer contact channels to support more contextual conversations and voice authentication.
Other providers are looking to implement customer-facing biometrics into their authentication processes. Nuance Communications offers voice recognition technology that a number of financial institutions currently utilize for stricter verification. Spanish bank Santander is among them, enabling customers to verify their identities during calls by saying their chosen passcodes aloud. Nuance stated that its technology examines more than 100 distinct traits belonging to customers’ voices to ensure their identities.
Voice biometrics do have drawbacks, however. Consumers may not want to state their passcodes aloud in public, and the technology is prone to other flaws that fraudsters can exploit. Many call centers are circumventing these issues by employing fingerprint and iris scans into mobile apps and digital channels, though these also have security issues. Many professionals still view biometrics as critical to protecting against fraud, especially when authenticating customers without adding unnecessary frictions.
Fraud protection and innovation
Call centers are interested in developing more fraud protection without any added time or inconvenience, and most have faith in their ability to provide this: 76 percent of call center leaders stated that preventing ATO attacks is possible without negatively affecting customers’ experiences. Call centers are not the only ones feeling the pressure to keep users’ data and money secure. Banks and other institutions that deal with online transactions are also looking into new ways to keep payments safe, as the payment fraud detection market is expected to grow at a 14 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from now until 2025.
Biometrics will remain an area of interest for call centers due to their lack of frictions, but it is worth considering other technologies that could be used for faster authentication. AI and behavioral tools can protect against fraudsters in ways that KBA solutions cannot. It is likely that KBA methods, such as typed passwords, will continue falling out of favor as new technologies grow more prevalent.