The Phone Call Dilemma: Who Are You Actually Talking To?

It’s a problem in many industries across the board: identity fraud can lead to data theft from call centers. Because you aren’t speaking face to face, it’s very difficult for a call center rep to verify that they’re speaking to the right person. When you couple the problem with HIPAA regulations, it becomes even more important that their identity is verified before personal information is shared. Here are a few tips for ensuring your employees aren’t letting important information loose.

Employee Training

Many people worry about hackers and data breaches, but a significant portion of stolen data comes from the loose lips of employees. Employees tend to be too free with information that should remain private, because they aren’t always sure of the distinction.

Regular employee training can help curb this. All workers who will be communicating with patients via the phone or otherwise (or those simply privy to private knowledge) should know what they are able to share, and with whom.

Knowledge-Based Authentication

Implementing authentication strategies can help you identify the person on the other end of the line. Many call centers utilize a series of questions that only the person—or someone close to that person—would know. Those may be the last four digits of a social security number, or life history questions (“what street did you grow up on?”), or any other series of questions. Combining a variety of questions can make it easier to authorize the person on the phone.

It’s worth noting, however, that a series of in-depth questions may not always provide real authentication. In fact, studies have shown that between 10-25% of responders can’t always provide the information being asked—even if they should know it. And it’s not a surefire way to stop would-be wrong doers, who may be able to access this information from identity theft practices.

Phone Printing & Voice Biometrics

Of course, there are far more advanced methods for clarifying who is on the other end of the line. Technological advancements have made it far easier to deter fraudsters from prying information from representatives. Phone printing can detect roughly where a person is calling from, or where they say they are calling from. For example, if the patient should be in Idaho, yet the call comes from Indiana, phone printing can help detect that.  It also gathers other information, like the type of phone (landline, cell, or internet). If it detects a fraudulent call, it blacklists it.

Another, even more technically advanced method is voice biometrics. Based on a unique voiceprint, voice biometrics can verify the identity of the person on the phone based simply on their voice. It’s currently one of the most foolproof ways to ensure safety.

Of course, the downside to these more technologically advanced options is that they’re very expensive, and often out of the range of many departments who would be handling sensitive calls. In cases like these, it may be best to rely on professionals who are trained constantly in making calls and identifying potential fraudsters.

If you would like to ensure that your patient’s data is safe, contact HCM today to learn how we interact with patients.


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