• November 30, 2020
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Contact Center Fraud Sees a COVID-Induced Spike

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Despite the growing importance of balancing customer experience with strong contact center security, two-thirds of firms struggle to do so, Forrester Research noted in a recent report.

As COVID-19 changed the global business landscape, so too did consumer expectations, preferences, and behaviors. They expect companies to follow COVID-related business requirements while also maintaining a high level of security to combat the growing army of fraudsters working to profit from stolen data.

Some key findings from the report include the following:

  • nearly a third of firms have seen a more than 50 percent increase in call volume since COVID-19 began;
  • on average, firms have seen a 42 percent increase in year-over-year call volume since the pandemic began;
  • 57 percent of firms have seen fraud attacks in the call center increase since the start of COVID-19, and 53 percent can draw a direct line from the increase in fraud to their bottom lines;
  • 80 percent of firms see fraud as a very serious issue in the call center;
  • 78 percent of firms see solving IVR fraud as a top call center initiative;
  • nearly 60 percent of firms struggle to manage cross-channel attacks;
  • 83 percent of firms rely on their contact center agents as the first line of defense in identifying potential fraud; and
  • only a third of respondents strongly agreed that they have a handle on contact center fraud.

The report identified account reconnaissance as the most common type of fraud firms are seeing in their contact centers and maintains that this kind of security attack is on the rise.

“Most respondents said they have seen fraudsters use the [interactive voice response] for account mining or reconnaissance since the pandemic began. Bad actors know contact centers are stretched thin, and they are using that to their advantage,” the report said.

“As COVID-19 forced individuals to rapidly adapt to handling all aspects of their life remotely, contact centers have been one of the most significantly affected areas of global business,” observed Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Pindrop, a provider of contact center fraud monitoring and detection solutions. “As firms struggle to manage spikes in call volume, the surge has also widened the window of opportunity for fraudsters to quietly mine huge amounts of personal data to perpetrate cross-channel attacks.”

In addition to account reconnaissance, financial services and insurance companies are most commonly seeing social engineering, bot activity, and call-spoofing fraud in IVR systems, the report also pointed out, noting that these types of fraud attacks “are harder to manage in a decentralized contact center environment.”

But the news is not all bleak. On average, firms reported a decrease in fraud ranging from 10 percent to more than 50 percent after implementing fraud detection with real-time account monitoring, which has also led to significant bottom-line savings, the research found.

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