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Voice verification

Being able to verify the legitimacy of a customer is a necessary ability for any major business. This is particularly true now that fraud prevention service Cifas has revealed that a record 89,000 cases of identity fraud in the UK during the first six months of 2017, writes Nick Gaubitch, pictured, Research Director EMEA, Pindrop, an anti-fraud and authentication product company.

With identity fraud making up a sizeable 56 per cent of all reported fraud across the UK, companies must ensure they have the required technology in place which enables them to differentiate between genuine customers and imposters. A failure to do so could see businesses lose out considerably to the fraudster.

When it comes to customer verification, organisations have made great strides in improving the process of determining an individual’s identity, there is still more work to be done however to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. Below we take a look at how customer authentication tools have developed over recent years and reveal why voice verification is the future when it comes to authenticating legitimate customers.


There was a time in the not so distant past, when the only way a business could authenticate a customer’s legitimacy was by actually meeting face-to-face. This is a striking concept in today’s technologically advanced world, but nonetheless one which provided good results. As technology has advanced, we’ve moved away from the need to travel to authenticate in this way, looking instead to procedures such as passwords, PINs and Knowledge Based Authentication Questions (KBAs). These new methods of authentication have undoubtedly made life simpler for the consumer, but such a heavy dependence on technology has left organisations at risk to fraudulent activity, exposing customers in the long term.

Precautions such as PINs, passwords and security question answers can be stolen by fraudsters monitoring social media profiles and they can be subject to cyber security hacks. Much of our information like KBA answers can be obtained by fraudsters phoning call centres and socially engineering their way into accounts. Recent research undertaken by Pindrop has confirmed this, as call centre fraud attacks have increased by 113pc in the past year. With an alarming amount of fraud now taking place over the phone, due to this access point having been neglected by an industry primarily focused on cyber defences, a growing number of businesses are turning to voice biometrics to help them tackle fraud.

Voice protection

Voice user interface is not a new phenomenon, but the improved accuracy of this technology has dramatically raised its profile, especially when coupled with the news that phone fraud is on the rise. In light of this, banks are leading the charge when it comes to voice biometric authentication. Last year we saw the likes of First Direct launch voice recognition services to protect against fraud on the phone channel. Santander also implemented the SmartBank app which will allow customers to make payments, report lost cards and set up accounts through voice activation.

For this technology to become commonplace across all industries however, there is a greater need for a seamless, durable and secure solution. For example, voice verification technology needs to be resistant to background noise and the often-overlooked issue that a human’s voice changes over time. The human voice alters with age, meaning that standard voice authentication will quickly become obsolete. Businesses must look for a system which can continually learn and adapt to the user’s voice.

As the sophistication of biometrics continues to improve, so to do the techniques that fraudsters employ. If a fraudster knows a company is using voice biometrics they will often do things to deceive the protective barriers. To help organisations truly secure themselves, it is essential that all bases are covered. The creation of a multi-layered defence approach, which covers all forms of authentication from face-to-face, to online and over the telephone, is imperative.

Developing your voice protection

The world is turning into a place where voice authentication through technology is the new norm. Whether it’s ordering a product or conducting a financial withdrawal, it will be our voice, not our computer that makes these transactions. Businesses must therefore start preparing now, for a voice-led revolution. Fortunately, today’s sophisticated technology which offers advanced, multi-factor authentication is making user identification more reliable. Tools such as Phoneprinting identify specific elements of a call, such as where the call is coming from, the device, whether it’s a mobile or landline and whether the company has been called from that phone before. This sophisticated solution now analyses 1,380 different elements, which thanks to a new “high-def” development can aid in detecting fraudulent activity before it becomes a problem, helping us get closer to protecting our voice against more fraud.


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