There’s a common misconception that fraudsters must employ sophisticated tactics to be successful. Sophisticated fraud both is on the rise and can be wildly successful. But fraudsters don’t have to depend on the latest, most complicated approaches to make a profit.

Take COVID-19 unemployment benefits fraud as one example. The Labor Department’s Inspector General recently announced that fraudsters may have stolen $45.6 billion dollars from the relief program. It wasn’t only sophisticated fraudsters using the latest technology and resources to bypass security software. Many of these funds were stolen by individuals submitting fraudulent applications simply by using other Americans’ identities. The ramifications of this fraud aren’t limited to the loss of tax dollars to criminals, either. 

Fraud prevention technologies — more than just a cost of doing business

The COVID-19 unemployment fraud schemes don’t stand alone in their unsophisticated nature. Many criminals execute cyberattacks through simple means such as live chat on a website or in call centers. Moreover, gaining unauthorized access to user accounts has grown easier for fraudsters; more than 24 billion username and password combinations are available on the dark web. That’s the equivalent of nearly four accounts for every person on the planet.

Traditionally, organizations have “regarded investments in fraud defenses as simply a cost of doing business.” But fraud prevention offers far broader benefits than just mitigating lost dollars. When organizations invest in their fraud prevention technologies and strategies, they can protect their reputation, restore trust in public institutions and even disrupt the financing of terrorism.

AI-based security solutions like biometric authentication can help organizations and government entities better detect, prevent and report fraudulent activity. That is, biometrics are an effective way to close an obvious gap in authentication security, making it more difficult for fraudsters to do what is currently fairly easy for them. 

In a contact center setting, the AI-powered solution begins by inspecting incoming calls to ensure each one is unique, authentic and physical before the caller reaches an agent. When the caller begins to speak, the technology checks their voice against a watchlist of known fraudster voices, immediately alerting the agent to suspicious activity. Likewise, in digital messaging interactions, conversational biometrics can analyze the way each person uses language and compares this to the conversational pattern of the real customer — detecting fraud in real time and alerting analysts to repeated fraud attempts and organized crime.

AI-based security solutions reduce friction for customers and agents 

In addition to making fraudsters’ work more difficult, AI-powered security solutions make every engagement easier for customers and agents. Voice biometrics authenticate callers in seconds based on the sound of their voice, reducing friction for legitimate users and alleviating the burden of this process from agents. This method works by capturing each consenting customer’s unique voiceprint, then using it to authenticate them across contact center and digital channels. A voiceprint is an encrypted, mathematical representation of the millions of anatomical and acoustic factors that make each person’s voice one-of-a-kind. Whereas fraudsters can purchase stolen account credentials on the dark web, they cannot fake a voiceprint.

Let’s say, for example, an agent receives a call from someone who says they’ve forgotten their account password and needs to reset it. Instead of sending a one-time passcode (which could be intercepted), voice biometrics and other intelligent fraud detectors can analyze the caller’s voice, language, device and phone number to either verify a legitimate customer in seconds — or to flag the call as suspicious. Not only does this process improve the customer and agent experience, but it can also help prevent account takeovers.

Behind the scenes, fraud teams can leverage analytics from the biometrics solution to uncover and block more fraudsters, analyze emerging fraud patterns and gather the information they need to investigate and prosecute. 

From the most sophisticated professional fraud rings to the opportunistic identity thief next door, voice biometrics and AI-based security solutions can help stop fraud before it happens, making life easier for customers and agents alike.

This article originally ran in Today’s Cybersecurity Leader, a monthly cybersecurity-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.