Call Center Fraud

Call Center Employees at Computers Photo by adrenalina -

A call center is a centralized department dedicated to managing phone calls from current and potential customers. They administer inbound and outgoing calls and may be located within the premises of the company or outsourced to another firm that specializes in this area.

Typical users of call centers include technical support help desks, telemarketing, online merchants, political polling services and charities to name a few. All of the aforementioned parties use the service to sell products and services or to survey the customer experience.

What is Call Center Fraud?

Call center frauds are a genuine issue that has only increased with the passage of time. Call centers serve as an important cog in the business machinery. According to surveys conducted in 2016, 1 in every 937 incoming phone calls to a call center was fraudulent.

Call centers are a growing trend and representatives handle the bulk of the contact requests. However, given the lack of built-in security and the standard of agent training, there is plenty of room for scammers to incite fraud. Although the general impression casual observers may take is that call center fraud entails robocalls or automated messages, the actual concern is poles apart.

The concept can be defined as any interaction that transpires between a scammer and a call center agent over the phone. Even though that is a minimalist definition, it is easy to gauge that such scenarios can be a dilemma.

Call center fraud is not as simple as a criminal placing a fraudulent order using stolen credit card details. In fact, that only comprises a fraction of such calls. In reality, though, the vast majority of calls are not as apparent or obvious to agents who receive it.

One of the issues at play is that fraudsters place several phone calls on a trial and error basis before they enact their plan. Scammers do this to accumulate more information and gain more control over the victim’s accounts by altering their passwords, mailing details and phone numbers. This enables the fraudulent caller to conduct multiple transactions that deduct funds from the stolen account. Unfortunately, there is little or no reason to doubt them while they execute their plan.

There are systems in place to flag activities that arouse suspicion. However, scammers are aware of such contingencies. For instance, if there are several activities from the same account or user in a short period of time that do not match the customer’s overall transaction or do not adhere to a pattern, the call center will grow to vary of such activity. If this is brought to the attention of those who execute the hoax in the first place, they maneuver their way out of such cases using various excuses to con the agency. There are a plethora of cases where the agents simply disregard the transactions once they speak to the scammers.

A Growing Trend

A worrying fact of the matter is that call center fraud has been on an upward trajectory. The United States is no stranger to calling center fraud as well. Surprisingly, 5 out of 6 fraudulent phone calls received by agencies based in the United States originate from other regions. There are other statistics which further elucidate that the con is on the rise.

For instance, there is an augmentation of 113% in fraud calls witnessed from 2015 to 2016. As we alluded earlier, there was 1 fraudulent phone call in every 937 inbound calls. That figure was 1 in every 2000 a year earlier. Moreover, each misrepresented call cost agencies 0.58 dollars in lost revenue.

These numbers are a damning indictment of the prevalence of call center fraud. This begs the question. Why are call centers so prone to being swindled? We will aim to answer this query appropriately.

Why Does it happen?

Fraudulent callers employ a variety of means to con call center agents. They use a combination of free and easily accessible tools at their disposal. Combined with the fact that agents recruited by the agencies are often ill-prepared for such scenarios is a recipe for disaster.

Callers can make technical adjustments to trick call center representatives. They may use software that spoofs their caller ID details or use VoIP (Voice over IP) technology to conceal their actual identity and location. When it comes to the call center’s own technology, the callers have a few tricks up their sleeve also. They abuse the IVR (Interactive Voice Response)automated system to reset the PIN of their victims or gain access to more information from them.

Call Center Staff at ComputersBesides the technical aspect of their modus operandi, there is a human element to their plan. Agents who are hired by call centers are trained to provide high-quality service. This also means they are told to ensure that the customer is content with the service. This creates a kink in their armor. Even though they may receive phone calls that are more volatile than others, fraudsters may look to exploit agents by using emotion as their weapon as call center agents are not necessarily trained to identify fraud.

Additionally, there are loopholes on an organizational level. Call centers encourage a high frequency of phone calls as long as they can provide a complete service. We already alluded to the fact that agents are not trained to investigate cases while they are in the midst of a phone call for potentially fraudulent activity. They are only designated to manage requests as they come.

Quite often, the performance of call center agents is judged based on their ability to solve customer requests quickly. They are even given commissions based on the number of phone calls they can wrap up. This is counterproductive when it comes to security and the detection of fraud.

Last but not least, there are external factors at play. Industries have suffered at the hands of scammers and strengthened their defenses as a result, in a bid to avoid costly security breaches. Techniques such as encryptions and two-factor authentication are used frequently. This means fraudsters redirect their efforts to exploit avenues that have less security i.e. phone support.

Fortunately, there are policies and training in place for representatives to be able to identify scammers, but as explained above it is not an easy task. With that said, call center staff are trained to handle many types of calls and remain professional at all times.

Take the Nike marketing campaign 'Just Do It', which employees Colin Kaepernick as the 'voice' behind the ad. Employees have been trained to handle the wave of phone calls from angry callers who happen to disagree with the stand that Nike has taken. Call center staff are trained in all areas of the profession, but the fraudulent callers will not stop until some new, creative ways are found to identify and combat them.

Posted On September 13, 2018