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Automated Voice Authentication Is Unveiled

At the Voice Biometrics Conference 2008 in London today, Vicorp introduced a new speech self-service solution portfolio focused on credit card fraud prevention.  

The company’s Plastic Card Voice Application Portfolio contains many service modules—including Identification & Verification and Outbound Verification—aimed at reducing fraud with secure, cost-effective, automated self-service. “If you’re a card issuer—whether that’s a credit or debit card—you can benefit from our solutions,” says Lee Cottle, chief operating officer at Vicorp, noting that the solution portfolio focuses on three core concerns for card issuers: automation, arrears handling, and fraud prevention. 

In the area of fraud prevention, Cottle touted the solution’s ability to eliminate fraud at the point it happens. “We link into the fraud detection systems that these card issuers have,” he says. “The back-end system will notify us real time of a transaction being processed on behalf of a particular cardholder and it will flag whether or not that is valid transaction or if it’s an out-of-character transaction. If it’s an out-of-character transaction, within milliseconds we make an outbound telephone call to the cardholder’s registered mobile number and [verify the transaction] through an automatic process.”

According to Cottle, if a charge is believed to be fraudulent, it is immediately halted and the cardholder is directed to the fraud team for follow-up.

For added security, card issuers may enroll in Vicorp's Voice Passport, which uses voice biometrics to identify callers via the cardholder’s individual voiceprint. “[Users are] asked to repeat a pass phrase several times,” Cottle says. “We will then extract the characteristics of the cardholder voiceprint and that becomes their Voice Passport. Those characteristics are then stored away into the client’s CRM system. And when the cardholder wants to be verified for a transaction that they just performed which is out of character, we can use their voiceprint to verify who they are.” 

Cottle also stresses that the system extracts voice characteristics and does not store customer audio for security reasons. “That’s very important because you don’t really want to store that audio somewhere where it could be used fraudulently by staff within an organization,” he says. 

Along the same lines, Cottle cautions against using numeric digits in pass phrases. “A lot of financial organizations record telephone conversations,” he explains. “And if you record somebody’s 16-digit number, for example, the chances are that you’ll have all the digits necessary in those 16 digits to ask a caller to repeat them back and record their audio and you could cut and slice those audio prompts out and try to fool one of these systems.” 

According to Cottle, the Plastic Card Voice Application Portfolio has been well received thus far. “The feedback’s been phenomenal,” he says. “One of our solutions is already deployed for…the largest card issuer in the UK … and they got a return on investment on that application in literally weeks. So there are core benefits with each of the modules, and because they work independently, it’s entirely up to the card issuer which components they want to launch.”

Vicorp’s Plastic Card Voice Application Portfolio includes a host of other services, including:

  • Payment Reminder, which allows card issuers to send outbound payment reminders via phone or SMS to customers;
  • Outstanding Balance & Promise To Pay, which not only allows users to retrieve their outstanding balances, but gives callers the option of making payments in excess of the outstanding balance; and
  • Travel Notification, which allows card holders to notify the card issuer of their travel plans so that transactions in foreign countries are authorized.

And, Cottle says, Vicorp is currently working on new services using location-based information to further reduce fraud prevention. “It is…our intent to work with mobile providers to use location-based information in future releases of this technology,” he says. “So, we know the location of the mobile phone device in relation to where the transactions happened. So we can use those as two tokens of additional security.”

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