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Again, this month we hear of another data breach that will impact approximately 143 million Americans, exposing personal consumer Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.

The major impact is that the security of customers’ accounts is at risk, in part because organisations still rely on the outdated practice of using Knowledge Based Authentication (KBA)—an authentication method that asks questions based on detailed information that an individual knows, such as the name of a favourite teacher.

This KBA process is still predominantly used in today’s contact centres. So, what can be done to protect your customers and stop fraudsters from using this personal data to commit fraud, without making customers’ lives more difficult? The answer is multifactor authentication, which combines something you know with something you are.

KBA provides the “something you know.” Biometric authentication provides the “something you are.” Facial recognition and fingerprinting on mobile devices are commonplace today; however, voice biometrics can also be used to verify customers. Each person’s voice is unique based on our nasal passage, vocal track and the speed and pitch with which we speak.

Passive voice biometrics is a frictionless approach that can be used in live calls with customer service representatives to help authenticate the customer and block fraudsters. It is performed without any change in behaviour of the customer and provides results in real time. Known fraudsters enrolled from previously identified fraud calls can also be detected in real time.

Voice biometrics, while improving security, can also help reduce the time taken to authenticate customers, resulting in potentially lower average handle times and contact centre costs.

The customer experience also improves, as customers no longer have to answer annoying security questions and are not being treated like fraudsters if they cannot remember a password or memorable date. Another potential benefit is reduced staff turnover—agents’ stress levels may well go down as the authentication process is less confrontational.

While security that prevents data breaches clearly needs to be improved, so does customer authentication in the contact centre. The use of KBA alone no longer provides sufficient security and too often just frustrates customers. Passive voice biometrics can help reduce costs by reducing the average handle time, improving security, fighting fraud and providing a better customer experience.