Fraud never sleeps: Why biometrics is essential for effective fraud prevention

When the pandemic forced organizations to send customer service agents to work from home, fraudsters quickly seized the new opportunity presented by isolated employees. Social engineering and bribery attempts rapidly increased as fraudsters targeted agents lacking their usual support from colleagues and managers.

biometrics fraud prevention

While fraudsters adapted fast, most organizations weren’t nearly as quick; many failed to take the necessary steps to bolster security and authentication processes. Now that the world is beginning to reopen, those problems might seem far behind; but what happens when there’s another wave, or another major social disruption?

Fraudsters will thrive on the disruption of stay-at-home orders, re-openings, and hybrid working. Organizations must think ahead and implement new security measures and systems now that will protect them and their customers during the next crisis.

Traditional authentication isn’t fit for purpose

Security professionals have long known the benefits of multifactor authentication, but problems arise when the authentication factors are easy to steal (like passwords, PINs, and one-time passcodes sent via SMS) or spoof (like IP addresses and caller IDs). These factors may add an element of friction for fraudsters, but they’re unlikely to keep them at bay for long.

It’s essential to have biometrics as the central element of a layered approach to the authentication process. By authenticating people based on who they are, rather than what they know or something they have, organizations can protect against fraud in any channel, regardless of new tactics fraudsters might use.

It’s also much easier for agents to rely on biometrics rather than traditional authentication methods – it helps remove stress and pressure. Though ultimately this technology protects customers, it also safeguards employees, especially as working from home puts them at greater risk to be targets of bad actors. Biometrics help alleviate these risks.

With multiple layers of security in place and biometrics as the central authentication factor, organizations have a future-proofed fraud prevention platform that offers protection against current threats—and whatever new threats the next crisis brings.

Layered security is essential

Layered security involves combining fraud prevention measures like environment detection and anti-spoofing with multimodal biometrics, all underpinned by an AI-powered risk engine that aggregates data from the various layers to generate a risk score for any given customer engagement.

Having multimodal biometrics within this approach is crucial. Combining the different modalities enables seamless, secure authentication across all the voice and digital channels that customers use to contact brands.

Voice biometrics identifies genuine customers and known fraudsters based on hundreds of characteristics in their unique “voiceprint”. The most advanced voice biometrics systems provide extremely high levels of authentication accuracy and very rapid fraud detection.

Behavioral biometrics analyzes numerous characteristics of people’s online behavior, such as how they type, use a mouse, swipe and tap, or pause between actions. This provides continuous, passive authentication to identify when fraudsters hijack sessions.

Finally, conversational biometrics analyzes the way people converse—the way they talk, the slang term they use, or even the emojis they use in chat apps—to detect social engineering attempts and fraud mules using scripts. It can also help detect bribery and agent corruption—problems that skyrocketed during the pandemic, when agents were operating without managerial oversight or clean desk policies.

Better for customers—and better for fraud teams

Using a biometric factor for authentication isn’t just the best way to protect customers—it also makes fraud teams more efficient and agile. A biometrics-first approach focuses on finding individual fraudsters themselves, rather than looking for what they’re doing. That means fraud teams don’t have to rely on systems based on rules and thresholds, and they don’t get the massive variations in workload that those systems create.

This biometrics-first, multilayered approach to security detects fraud attempts much faster and dramatically reduces the number of false positives. So, instead of overstretched fraud teams dealing with alert fatigue while fraudsters slip through the cracks, real-time fraud detection enables teams to make more effective use of their time.

The biometrics imperative

Some organizations put a sticking plaster over their customer care operations to get them through the immediate pressures of the pandemic. Others saw an opportunity to implement a more durable security upgrade—a fraud prevention platform that wouldn’t just see them through a crisis but would continue to protect customers and the brand from constantly shifting fraud attacks for years to come.

Regardless of how you chose to bolster your anti-fraud security, going “back to normal” shouldn’t mean returning to the bad old days of relying on lengthy and unsecure knowledge-based authentication. So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to consider adding biometrics to your fraud prevention armory.

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