At a time when commerce is increasingly conducted digitally, consumers expect and rely on call centers to deliver customer service when they need it. However, according to a new TransUnion report, these call centers have increasingly become a target for fraud.

The new TransUnion report features findings from its recent 2023 State of Omnichannel Authentication survey of call center 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 centers 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.

The report also shows that nearly two-thirds of financial industry respondents indicated that most account takeovers start in the call center. 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 centers, but in a way that is as efficient as possible for financial services organizations and their customers.

The survey showed that, for call center 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 center 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 center.

Implementing effective call inspection technologies such as these would allow call center 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.