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How to Use Voice Recognition Safely

by : Stan Jaslar

Voice recognition tools offer a convenient way for banking customers to identify themselves when getting information about their accounts over the phone. In theory, these tools are great — after all, voices are as unique as fingerprints. But unfortunately, there have been some issues with these tools in the past. In particular, Joe Simmons was able to bypass the security at HSBC by mimicking the voice of his fraternal twin brother BBC reporter Dan Simmons.

If you want to use voice recognition tools at your financial institution, you need to ensure that you’re creating a safe situation for your customers. To do that, keep the following tips in mind.

Use Scores of Identifiers

When you’re working with a tech specialist to set up voice recognition software for your phone banking system, make sure that you ask how many identifiers the software uses. Ideally, you want a system that uses 100 or more identifiers such as intonation, accent, physical structure of the vocal cords, and scores of others. Keep in mind that although every voice is as unique as a fingerprint, you still need to make sure that the technology your financial institution utilizes has the ability to detect voices precisely.

Capture a Voice ID from Your Customers

Of course, you can’t just let customers call in and start talking. When they set up voice recognition for their account, you need the software to create an auditory ID for them. Typically, this process requires your banking customer to say a few words or repeat a few phrases into the system. Then, the system picks out the identifiers mentioned above, and it also records some of the keywords for future reference. Then, when your customer calls, the system compares and matches those elements before giving your customer access.

Don’t Give Unlimited Chances

When Joe Simmons breached his brother’s account, he tried seven times before he gained entry into the account. Ultimately, you need to decide how many times you allow customers to fail the voice recognition step before requiring more information. To be on the safe side, you should set up your system so that it refuses to allow entry into the account after a reasonable number of failed attempts.

If customers are repeatedly turned away while trying to get into their own accounts, you can urge them to contact you directly. Then you can talk with your software developer about which steps you can talk to make the software work better for those customers.

Utilize Dual-Factor Authentication

In cases where the software doesn’t recognize a customer’s voice, you may want to utilize dual-factor authentication. For instance, your voice recognition tools could say something to the effect of, “We’re having trouble recognizing your voice today. To verify your identity, we’re going to send a single-use passcode to your cell phone or your email address.” This step can be ideal in situations where the customer’s voice sounds strange because they have a cold or a scratchy voice.

However, you may just want to use dual-factor authentication as a first line of defense. You don’t necessarily have to wait for the software to fail to recognize the individual’s voice. To this end, you can send out a code to an address on file as explained above, or you can require the individual to enter the last four digits of their social security number or a similar identifying detail.

Consider Working with Digital Assistants

If you’re not ready to implement voice recognition tools on your phone banking line, you may want to let customers access their information through digital assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant. You can work with a developer to create an app or skill for these devices, or you can allow customers to access their accounts by speaking directly to their digital assistant.

For instance, you may want your customers to be able to say, “Alexa, what’s the balance in my bank account?”. Then, Alexa contacts to your online banking system and retrieves the necessary information for your customer. This option has two authentication elements built in. The customer’s voice is one, and the IP address for the digital assistant is the other.

Choose Strong Technology Partners

Finally, whether you’re implementing voice recognition tools or using any other type of security elements, you need strong technology partners to help you.

When you run a financial institution, preventing fraud needs to be one of your top priorities, but with technology constantly changing, this can be difficult to manage on your own. Let us help. At SQN Banking Systems, we provide a variety of hosted fraud protection solutions to our clients. To learn more, contact us today.

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