Bank robbers don’t all look like Bonnie and Clyde

Today’s fraudsters are growing more sophisticated and technologically savvy. They’ve found ways to impersonate company executives to authorize untraceable wire transfers, costing victims more than $1 billion in just 18 months. The best way to protect yourself, your customers, and your company from these fraudsters is through voice biometrics.
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Voice biometrics helps protect companies from fraudulent wire transfers.

When you think about bank robbery do you think about Bonnie and Clyde? Or some bad guy with a facemask holding a gun and forcing a teller to put all their money in a bag? If so, then you probably grew up watching the same shows I did, but more seriously, you may have a skewed view of today’s highly successful bank robbers: fraudsters.

Today’s fraudsters are growing more sophisticated and technologically savvy. And fraudsters have found a new way to steal information: impersonating company executives to authorize wire transfers to untraceable locations. Data from the World Bank shows that the remittance market is currently $527.8 billion and is growing fast; it is expected to reach $610 billion by the end of this year. That’s a lot of money which is susceptible to attack. But how do these fraudsters do it and how can you protect yourself and your customers?


How fraudsters steal money

These fraudsters gather information to make wire transfer requests as believable as possible. They identify when an executive is traveling, craft an email to the victim with a request for an immediate wire transfer, and then “poof” the money is gone!

Sounds implausible doesn’t it? Unfortunately, all too many have found it to be a very real scenario. A woman in Ohio almost lost her company $315,000, a company in Omaha lost $17.2 million, and another company in San Jose lost $46.7 million, all due to fraudulent impersonations and wire transfers.

According to AFP research, wire transfers are the second most popular vehicle for payments fraud, only behind checks. We are not talking small amounts; data from the U.S. Secret Service says wire transfer fraud has cost victims more than $1 billion in just 18 months.

But the good news is that there is a way to mitigate these attacks.


How voice biometrics protects companies from fraud

Multi-factor authentication, the practice of using more than one method of identity verification, using voice biometrics is a fool proof way to ensure a wire transfer request is being made by the right person. Voice biometrics leverages more than 100 unique speech characteristics to create a unique voiceprint (just as individual as a fingerprint) for each customer, making it a highly secure method for authentication.

Voice biometrics is currently being used by millions of people and being adopted by organizations around the globe, including financial institutions, telecommunication services providers, and other enterprises that require validating the identity of users within customer care channels.

Voice Biometrics are gaining ground with these enterprises because not only does it make accounts more secure from the threats posed by identify theft, social engineering, and data breaches, but it also allows for faster authentication. Unlike trying to remember PINs or passwords or even worse, those unusual security questions (your favorite pet, like you can pick just one), voice biometrics can be used with a prompted passphrase like “My voice is my password” or it can work in the background to verify identity without interrupting the normal dialog between a customer and a company representative.

So it’s no wonder 90 percent of users prefer voice biometrics as an alternative to PINs and passwords.


OK, so how would it work?  

In the case of a bank, the officers who are responsible for authorizing wire transfers would all enroll their voiceprint into the system by recording their pass phrase three times. Once the voiceprint is created, any time an authorization is needed they merely call in and validate the transfer. This way the poor phone attendant is not the one making the decision as to whether the person on the other end of the line is actually the CEO.

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The Essential Guide to Voice Biometrics

Validating the identity of customers within customer service channels has become a critical component to enterprise security. Read this guide for an introduction to voice biometrics technology, real-world use cases across customer channels and three action steps to help you get started.

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Steven Bridgeland

About Steven Bridgeland

Steven Bridgeland joined Nuance in 2016 as senior solutions marketing manager for all things Voice Biometrics. Before joining Nuance, Steven worked in various product management and marketing positions at Microsoft, Sesame Communications and others. Steven Has an MBA from Yale School of Management and is a loyal Spartan from Michigan State University.