Card Fraud at Call Centres

The recent publicity surrounding the potential credit card fraud at the Local Property Tax call centre has prompted us to look into how common this type of fraud is.

We sometimes hear about IT systems being hacked and credit card details being stolen – but how safe are  your credit card  details when paying over the phone?

In the UK  , CIFAS  members ( Fraud Prevention Service) ,  reported 178 cases of staff fraud in the first six months of 2011. They also reported that the theft of customer data from a company for personal use rose by 18% in 2012 .
The data – such as credit/debit card details  frequently gets passed to criminal sources who can then make use of this data for their own fraudulent purposes such as emptying a customer’s account of money.

Call Centres can take a number of measures to try and reduce the risk of staff fraudulently using the credit card details of their callers. Some employers make  employees prove they are not in debt (less temptation to steal) .  Other measures include setting  up a “clean room” where items such as mobile phones, paper and pens are banned so details cannot be recorded by staff .

In  the recent case with the Property Tax –  it was a staff member who was not authorised to take payments that appears to have kept customer card details.
Revenue did put out a statement to say that in their  payment processing team – “special arrangements were put in place in line with best practice in the payment processing sector. These involved the setting up of a filing team who are located in a ‘clean’ secure environment with additional monitoring features, who do not have access to mobile phones or any other facility to record personal or payment details.”

Some businesses make use of technology  to take the customer account details secretly over the phone using the keypad – thus removing  the temptation from the agents.

It’s worth remembering that stolen card details can come from numerous sources – with ATM and point of sale “skimming”, website hacking and mail interception being the main ones .  Call centre related scams probably make up only a tiny slice of the growing card fraud pie.