Customer ExperienceTechnology

Balancing Customer Experience with Fraud Prevention in the Contact Center

Christina Luttrell
Christina Luttrell is the COO for IDology

Cybercriminals exposed 2.8 billion consumer data records in 2018. Breaches have given fraudsters an immense amount of data to work with. Criminals are taking data such as drivers’ license numbers and account numbers, and filling in the gaps with information from social media and other sources. With this data in hand, it has become easier for fraudsters to impersonate customers and use social engineering to deceive contact center agents who have limited identity verification tools at their disposal.

According to IDology’s 7th Annual Fraud Report, which is based on data from 156 companies, social engineering is the most prevalent fraud technique, followed by Automatic Number Identity (ANI) deception. Fusing immense supplies of breached personal information with increasingly sophisticated social engineering methods means call centers are under assault more than ever. At the same time, consumers expect smart, friction-free interactions on their devices, whether voice or online. A keen understanding of how consumers now view their identities and how they prefer to interact with companies can inform a faster, safer and more effective call center engagement strategy.

CXWidespread media coverage of breaches has made consumers more aware of the potential for their information to be compromised. This has led to heightened interest in how businesses are protecting consumer information. At the same time, consumers not only expect their data to be protected, they also want convenience. This presents challenges for businesses striving to meet consumer expectations while ensuring interactions are secure.

Each year, IDology publishes a Consumer Digital Identity Study to shine a light on consumer views, practices and preferences related to fraud and identity verification. This year’s study revealed the following key insights that businesses can use to create a safe and secure customer experience.

Consumers Consider Their Identities to Be Increasingly Digital

Identities were once defined by name, address and social security number alone. Today, identities are comprised of numerous data points, from physical documentation to digital attributes. The past 12 months have brought a significant shift in the way consumers define their identities.

  • Digital attributes such as phone numbers and email addresses are considered by consumers to be a greater part of their identities than family information or where they work.
  • Fifty-one percent identified their mobile phone number as a key part of their identity. This is a 21% increase over last year.

This tells us that as consumers utilize their devices and numbers as means of verification, they expect companies to do the same. Americans call into contact centers primarily from digital devices, and thus, expect those interactions to have faster, friction-free digital verification intelligence built in.

Expectations Are High

Experiences with companies such as Amazon and the one-click simplicity of many mobile device interactions have conditioned consumers for instant gratification. Yet, to protect against fraud, many companies have increased the number of steps required for consumers to execute a transaction or verify their identities.

Streamlining processes as much as possible, while introducing the right amount of friction at the right time by deploying dynamic step-up methods only when needed can fulfill the requirement for identity verification without frustrating or driving away customers.

Shifting Accountability

After watching numerous data breaches unfold in the news, consumers continue to lose faith in the ability of businesses to protect their information. And, they’re taking action.

  • Over the past year, the number who feel it’s their responsibility to protect their personal information increased by 15%, a dramatic shift compared to 2018.
  • When notified their data had been breached, 60% changed their account passwords, 38% had their card reissued and 32% turned on two-factor authentication.

Despite declining trust, or perhaps because of it, consumers expect businesses to do more. Seventy-eight percent of Americans strongly believe that organizations need to protect their information, a 16% increase over last year. This clearly demonstrates that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Identity verification is important to consumers, especially when companies educate them on the importance of both it and authentication processes in deterring fraud.

Protecting Consumer Data and Reducing Friction

Knowing what consumers expect and need, how can you use this knowledge to deliver a secure and seamless experience? You can do this through a combination of proactive education and technology that will protect your contact center and allow agents to focus on providing legitimate customers with the best experience possible. Here’s how:

1. Verify numbers before callers get to agents. Fraudsters can steal from your company before they even speak with an agent. Automated systems or IVR (interactive voice response) systems often offer account activities that allow a fraudster to make substantial inroads to account takeover. Exposure to fraudulent, spoofed calls can be avoided with an identity verification solution that can verify the phone number on an IVR in session with your contact center. This helps greenlight legitimate calls and creates a more productive customer experience with less friction.

2. Utilize a layered identity verification solution. If a call appears to be spoofed or KBA (knowledge-based authentication) questions aren’t answered accurately, it’s important that agents have options for escalating to another form of verification when the time is right. A layered identity verification solution can incorporate upfront call verification with varied escalation methods, depending on the level of risk.

3. Stay on top of the latest fraud techniques. Agents on the front lines of service can be vitally important in preventing fraud. All employees should be aware of social engineering and the latest techniques used by fraudsters. Educate employees and encourage them to be on the lookout for suspicious callers.

4. Put the proper protocols in place. Unclear or weak protocols are difficult to follow, especially when an agent is under pressure from a fraudulent caller.

The fact that consumers want the best of both worlds—both security and less friction—will continue to challenge businesses. With the right technology and an understanding of cybercrime and its impact on consumer behavior, you can empower contact center agents, elevate customer trust, increase business identity assurance and shut down fraud.

Christina Luttrell is the COO for IDology, a GBG company and leader in multi-layered identity verification and fraud prevention. In her 10 years at IDology, Luttrell has significantly advanced the company’s technology, forged close relationships with IDology customers and driven the development of technology innovations that help organizations stay ahead of constantly shifting fraud tactics without impacting the customer experience.

– Reprinted with permission from Contact Center Pipeline,

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