For every trusted resource, there is a bad actor trying to take advantage of it.
And that is the catch-22 of call centers. The pivotal role they play across various industries also makes them an attractive target for fraudsters seeking to exploit and capture sensitive customer information.
“The call center is a prime target,” Marc Hopkins, vice president at E-Complish, told PYMNTS. “[Call centers] come into contact with quite a bit of sensitive customer data, whether its credit card credentials or business banking and savings accounts … all of which can be exploited.”
Call center fraud generally takes two primary forms, either an attack from the inside or a third party intercepting data from a point of weakness.
With insider threats, the risk originates from within the call center itself. Unscrupulous employees or representatives may compromise customer data, either for personal gain or to sell it on the black market for fraudulent purposes.
Data interception involves capturing data as it is being transmitted between the customer and the call center representative. Fraudsters may exploit weaknesses in the data transmission process to access sensitive information.
Protecting call centers against fraud requires a multipronged approach that incorporates technology and proactive measures to lock down any attack vectors.
Organizations need to remember that whenever they may have built a 12-foot wall, fraudsters and bad actors are working in the background on building a 13-foot ladder.
“The first step is taking that sensitive data out of the hands of your call center,” Hopkins said.
One way to do so is by implementing automated payment assistants during customer interactions. Automated assistants can reduce the risk of data exposure by allowing customers to input their sensitive information without the call center representative hearing it.
This technology effectively removes the sensitive data from the hands of call center personnel, reducing the likelihood of insider threats, Hopkins said.
He added that another prominent way to safeguard call centers from fraudulent activity is by providing customers with secured payment links via SMS, email or chat to ensure that their data remains safe during transactions.
These links are typically time-sensitive and can be used to make payments while on the call with a representative. This method enhances data security and customer convenience.
Allowing customers to interact with automated payment systems through outbound calls can further protect sensitive data. This method ensures that customer information remains secure and minimizes the risk of insider threats within the call center.
“Outbound calls completely take the sensitive customer data out of the hands of the call center and protect it from any fraudulent activity,” said Hopkins.
Protecting call centers and the sensitive data they handle against fraud is crucial in today’s business landscape, and as fraudsters become more sophisticated, organizations are turning to more advanced technologies themselves.
Traditional verification methods, such as passwords, PINs and Social Security numbers, are increasingly vulnerable due to their availability on the black market, which is why businesses are increasingly becoming interested in leveraging advanced verification technologies to protect and secure sensitive data.
While these technologies are still evolving, they hold the promise of more robust customer verification. Hopkins noted that they include future-fit technologies such as biometrics, like voice recognition and fingerprint scanning, and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered identity verifications that use real-time behavioral analytics and behavior mapping.
Implementing these technologies can enhance security and streamline customer interactions, making the verification process more efficient.
Verifying that somebody is who they say they are leads to a smoother interaction and a shorter call to the call center, Hopkins explained, which ideally creates better customer experiences by removing potential frictions and has the downstream effect of driving greater loyalty.
After all, the ideal call center experience prioritizes Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance to ensure the secure handling of sensitive payment information, guarantees that sensitive data is safeguarded against fraudulent activities, and — importantly — creates a customer-first experience through the use of automated payment assistants, secured payment links and advanced verification technologies that streamline customer interactions, reducing call times and enhancing overall customer convenience.
In an ever-evolving digital landscape, staying ahead of call center fraud is not only necessary but also a strategic advantage that can build customer loyalty and business success.