Lloyds to use 'audio fingerprinting' in fight against bank fraud


New anti-fraud technology is being introduced by a major bank to make it easier to weed out criminals posing as customers in phone calls.

Lloyds Banking Group said the pioneering "audio fingerprint" technology will help protect its 30 million customers' accounts and identities and strengthen the bank's defences against fraud.

The group will introduce the software across the Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland brands early next year.

The technology, called Phoneprinting, has been developed by call centre fraud experts Pindrop. It creates an "audio fingerprint" of each call by analysing 147 call features - such as location, background noise and number history - to highlight unusual activity, identify potential fraud and stop criminal callers. Lloyds said there will be no need for customers to provide any additional information.

The move will help protect against fraudsters' tactics to disguise their calls. These include caller ID spoofing - when a call is disguised to make it appear as if it is coming from a different phone or location as well as voice distortion, when fraudsters use technology to make themselves sound different.

Phoneprinting technology has already been used in the United States to help to prevent fraud.

The Phoneprinting software takes just 30 seconds to analyse the features of a call. A pop-up alert appears on the call handler's screen while the call is analysed and within 30 seconds they will get an indication of whether the call is genuine or suspicious through a risk score calculated by Pindrop.

The technology can also tell if a call is being made by someone who has previously been identified as a fraudster.

Matt Peachey, vice-president and general manager international at Pindrop said: "The technology can also identify multiple callers associated with the same phone number, allowing the detection and tracking of fraud rings."

Martin Dodd, group telephony managing director at Lloyds Banking Group said: "Our partnership with Pindrop will enable us to further strengthen our multi-layered defences."

Financial Fraud Action (FFA) figures show that consumers lost £755 million to financial fraud across the UK financial services industry in 2015. According to a recent report from Pindrop Labs, around one in 700 calls to UK financial services contact centres is fraudulent.

Mike Haley, deputy chief executive at fraud prevention experts Cifas said: "Banks are under increasing pressure to provide additional assurances that customers' data and finances are protected, particularly as the channels through which to communicate have multiplied in recent years."

He continued: "It's a very positive move for the UK banking industry that Lloyds Banking Group is working with Pindrop and taking significant steps to provide an added layer of security when it comes to customer telephone calls.

"While many people opt to use online banking methods, there is still a requirement for a telephone conversation and this channel cannot be left to become a weakest link."

Mr Haley said despite new anti-fraud developments, consumers should remain vigilant and keep their personal information to themselves.

Advances in technology have made it easier for banks to recognise genuine customers just by their voice.

In August, Barclays announced that personal banking customers would be able to use their voice to clear security checks instead of needing to remember passwords.

The bank, which said "each person's voice is as unique as a fingerprint", started offering voice security technology to a small number of customers in 2013.

Barclays' technology enables it to create a digital profile of customers' voices - like a fingerprint - over the course of around three phone calls.

Once Barclays has built up a sufficient profile, customers can then opt in to use voice security technology to identify themselves.