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What You Need to Know About Fraud In The Contact Center

Matt Wujciak


As seen in a recent article by CCW Digital advisory board member, NYT and WSJ bestselling author, Shep Hyken, more than nine in ten (92% of) consumers in the U.S. are concerned about fraud increasing in their daily activities. And they should be.

Here’s why.

India-based call center scams U.S. consumers out of millions

Per Fox News, an Indian national pleaded guilty last Thursday in the Southern District of Texas for his role in operating an India-based call center that defrauded U.S. citizens out of millions of dollars.

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Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, 43, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy, general conspiracy to commit identification fraud, access device fraud, money laundering and impersonation of a federal officer, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

"Hitesh Patel played a prominent role in this massive, India-based fraud scheme that bilked vulnerable Americans out of millions…" said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski.

According to admissions he made as part of his plea deal, Patel operated a complex scheme with help from co-conspirators in the U.S. and India. From call centers in Ahmedabad, India, Patel’s employees would impersonate officials from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to defraud victims across the U.S.

Said victims were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies “owed to the government,” the DOJ said.

“Those who fell victim to the scammers were instructed on how to provide payment. Upon payment, the call centers would immediately turn to a network of U.S.-based “runners” to liquidate and launder the fraudulently obtained funds,” the report stated.

An even bigger problem

As Shep explains, “There have been several major data breaches over the past few years. They have become common. They happen almost daily, yet most never make the news—except for the big ones,” as seen in this example.

Contact center fraud is a very real problem in the U.S., and it’s only getting worse.

Read More: Special Report Series, 2020 Contact Center Predictions 

According to our research from our CCW Digital special report series, there has been a 17% increase in contact center fraud from 2018 to 2019. And the overwhelmingly majority of senior level managers and executives in the contact center believe this percentage will worsen in 2020, with an estimated $4 billion of counterfeit card fraud moving into the phone channel, alone (not including chat, SMS, social media, etc).

46% of Americans admit they have been victims of fraud. Eighty-six percent of consumers think that the companies they do business with could do more to protect them from fraud. Add in the 28% of Americans that don’t believe that brands are doing enough to manage their personal information securely, and you have one of the largest emerging trust problems in the history of U.S. capitalism. 

Protecting the customer

According to IT toolbox, “Because most call centers now record calls, security personnel can use neural networks – a series of algorithms patterned after the functioning of the human brain – to authenticate the voices of previously recorded customers.”

Neural networks can flag imposters trying to disguise their voices or use background noises to camouflage them. The artificial intelligence-assisted technology picks up other telltale signs of bad actors, for example, the use of bots to place calls.

New technology makes call screening easier and more efficient. A Pindrop product called Passport, for example, automatically screens callers and disconnects fraudsters before they even manage to speak to a call center agent.

Since many imposters seem to be using VoIP (voice over internet protocol) systems, Passport actually makes it easier to block them, because VoIP calls provide more intelligence than imposters may realize.

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As seen in the Hitesh Patel case, Pindrop is finding a ready market for its technology. The company says it protects more than 650 million calls a year. For instance, Passport was recently installed at a major bank, helping to reduce the time spent authenticating customers.

Because remember, a brand’s customer experience is only as effective as their ability to provide trust-worthy services for the consumer.