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Pindrop Study Shows Spike in Call Center Fraud

By Casey Houser May 11, 2016

The latest study from fraud protection software developer Pindrop does not contain cheery news for call centers.

Pindrop found in its 2016 Call Center Fraud Report that the number of phone fraud attacks in the U.K. and U.S. has grown by 45 percent between 2013 and the present. In part, it appears that an increased use of EMV chip credit cards has pushed criminals to shift their tactics. Criminals now seem to favor attacks on the call center, which has become the weakest link in the chain since credit cards have become stronger.


David Dewey, the director of Pindrop Labs, commented on this shift in focus:

“There is an alarmingly large increase in attackers targeting call centers to gain access to funds and steal key assets including money, merchandise, and proprietary information,” Dewey said. “This problem is not restricted to U.S. financial institutions – this is a growing problem on a global scale. The common thread is that criminals go where the likelihood of detection is lowest and the rewards are high.”

Although he notes the global scale of this problem, Pindrop’s immediate concern with the 2016 Call Center Fraud Report provides only a slice of the whole. It begins by noting the amount of money that call centers lost in 2015. At an average rate of $0.65 lost on each call, large call centers that take 40 million calls a year can expect to lose as much as $27 million due to fraud.

Pindrop has tackled these losses head-on by identifying and preventing hacking attempts. Although some callers may appear nice but forgetful, they could be fishing for information that compliments their existing base of data. Once criminals complete the puzzle by tricking call center agents with seemingly innocent questions, they can move to the next step of breaking into individual user credit accounts.

Pindrop’s anti-fraud uses analysis of a call’s audio characteristics, a caller’s geographic location, and phone number reputation to get a picture of whether or not a call is malicious. It is this Phoneprint technique that helps stop criminals in their tracks and also helped inform the data available in Pindrop’s latest study.

Researchers also found that the rate of fraud in the U.K. is currently much higher than in the U.S. Although U.S. call centers see a malicious call rate of about one in 1,700 calls, U.K. call centers see a rate of one in 700. Moreover, life insurance companies saw the highest rate of fraud among those financial groups the researcher’s studied. As an industry, it witnesses more than $31 million in yearly potential loss.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Contributing Writer

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