COVID-19’s Impact on Fraud in the Contact Center

Posted by Kathy Sobus on May 28, 2020 10:00:00 AM

As the world struggles with the fallout from COVID-19, all aspects of life are quickly changing. Millions of workers are now working from home or other remote locations outside of the normal security configurations of an office. Fraudsters are taking advantage of this disruption to actively steal information that they can monetize. In many cases, companies were not prepared to deal with a large work-from-home workforce, and when they transitioned their employees to remote environments, they mainly considered threats like phishing or cyberattacks.

But there is one weakness that should not be overlooked: the contact center. This is the area of greatest penetration for fraudsters, as between 50% to 60% of fraud attempts involve the contact center and it is responsible for billions of dollars in lost revenue. The number of reported fraud incidents since the pandemic started keeps spiking. An overwhelming majority of fraudsters pass through the contact center door on their way to gather more information to take over accounts.

Fraud is at an all-time high, and continues to rise—the fraudsters aren’t skipping a beat.

Over 150 million contact center agents are transitioning to a work-from-home environment due to the pandemic. The disruption to our daily lives has been an opportunity for fraudsters to play and prey – with new social distancing guidelines, the amount and the complexity of interactions taking place in the contact center offer a wealth of sensitive information and situations that are easy to socially engineer.

Even before the pandemic, we were seeing an incredible rise in fraud. Since 2015, fraud loss has increased by 320%. In 2019 alone, there was a 15% increase in fraud loss. Since March 10, 2020, we observed a 35% increase in fraud attempts. This translates to a 50% increase in just one year.

Governments are issuing special warnings on our lifestyles, and companies are issuing their own revised policies. Only last week, in an unusual move, UK intelligence agencies issued a warning to the public to be extra vigilant to criminals exploiting people’s fear of COVID-19. City of London police have also reported that they are already seeing evidence of COVID-19 related frauds.

In the US, the Department of Justice (DOJ) warns of healthcare schemes involving testing, cures, cryptocurrency fraud, and unsolicited falsified calls from the government. Perhaps most disturbing are the solicitations for fake charities. The government has created a hotline for the National Center for Disaster Fraud, along with a cyber-scam complaint website.

All of this is for individual fraud—but what about the companies we do business with on a regular basis? What are they experiencing?

Organizations of all sizes across the globe have been racing to transition contact center agents to remote working environments, forcing them to dynamically move calls across locations and handle significantly increased volumes of calls as demand spikes. Most large companies calculated that up to half of their workforce would be at home during the crisis, and that it would be over quickly. No one planned for 100% of their workforce to be at home for more than a week (and now, in many cases, we’re looking at least 30 days).

The biggest challenge is recognizing that companies are vulnerable during these types of events. Now we must take action to mitigate losses and prevent new ones, without compromising on the ability to provide impeccable service and protect the human link between a brand and its customers. 

Between 50% to 60% of fraud attempts involve the contact center, and it is responsible for billions of dollars in lost revenue.

C1 NICE Fraud Prevention White Paper Cover

This ConvergeOne and NICE white paper shares best practices to help your business prepare its contact centers for a host of new challenges ahead.

  • The Situation: Fraud is at an all-time high
  • The Challenge: Adapting to new situation   
  • The Threats: Contact centers are a target
  • The Technologies: Fraud prevention/authentication technologies
  • The Plan: Best practices and a look into the future


Topics: Customer Experience, Cyber Security, COVID-19


Kathy Sobus
Kathy Sobus  -- As the Senior Director of Customer Experience Strategy for ConvergeOne, Kathy Sobus leads a team with extensive experience in the contact center business and drives strategic alliances and partnerships with various vendors and providers. She is an expert in the area of customer experience and helps clients enhance their contact centers to more effectively respond to their customers’ ever-changing needs.