Call Center Scams in Banking Sector Is on Rise

Banks, retailers and credit card companies all use call centers to provide services. Those call centers represent one of the most attractive targets for fraud attacks. While online security has been a top priority for organizations over the past decade, the phone channel has not seen similar innovation.

Fraud expert Avivah Litan, an analyst for consultancy Gartner, says institutions can expect attacks that exploit the call center to increase. As banks and credit unions have increased investments to shore up defenses surrounding their online banking platforms, fraudsters have taken aim at the call center, she says.

Matt Anthony, a vice president at voice biometrics firm Pindrop Security, says that over the last eight to nine months, about 14 percent of the company's banking clients have been targeted by this type of attack. The size of banks targeted ranged "from the top 20 down into the mid-range," Anthony says. "Some institutions have multiple numbers under attack."

In most cases, members were greeted by an automated recorded offer for a free Walmart gift card, a credit union executive tells Information Security Media Group. Once the members responded, by inputting a number on their telephone or mobile device keypad, they were directed to somone "with a heavy accent" who requested the members provide credit card information in order to receive the free gift card.

The executive at the credit union in the Northwest that was targeted took steps to have the fraudulent call center numbers shut down. The main lesson, he adds: Ensure customers and members know to call their banks or credit unions when something seems amiss with a call-center interaction, or when they suspect suspicious activity.

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