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Consumer concern about payment card security is global

Staff Writer |
Consumers in the USA and Australia agree with the UK - contact centres should use new technology to shield payment card data from call centre agents & call recordings to stop fraud.

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Syntec’s latest annual consumer survey has been expanded to include the USA and Australia, revealing that consumer concern about fraud in call centres is a global phenomenon.

Indeed, 4 out of 5 consumers across all three continents agree that: "As a general rule, I don’t think organisations should be allowed to keep my payment card details in their databases" (74% of UK, 78% US and 80% Australian consumers)

There are approximately 5,000 contact centres in the UK, 44,000 in the USA and 2,500 in Australia according to industry associations, employing some 3.3.m staff between them.

Yet the majority of consumers view the agents in these call centres as a source of potential fraud (77% in the UK, 55% in the USA and 43% in Australia), influenced by reports in the media about major data breaches which have affected the reputations as well as customers of household name brands worldwide.

As a result, over half of UK consumers (54%), over two thirds in the USA (69%) and 60% in Australia now say they are becoming reluctant to make payments by phone at all.

This reticence is clearly a barrier to sales and something that contact centre managers must work to overcome.

Shockingly, 36% of UK consumers agree (53% in USA and 44% in Australia) that "There have been several occasions in the past year when I have not bought something due to being worried about the security of my payment card or ID details when buying over the phone".

Even IT managers and operations managers in contact centres admit to being reluctant to make payments over the phone in their personal lives, due to the possibility of data breaches, as reported in Syntec’s annual research survey and white paper (conducted and reported by Davies Hickman), which continues to pinpoint contact centres as a weak link for payment security around the world.

Sophie Wapshott, Business Engagement Manager from UK anti-fraud body Cifas describes how "32% of the internal fraud cases reported by Cifas members in 2015 were committed in contact centres with many of these offences involving staff disclosing customer or commercial data to organised criminal, third parties".

Consumers in the Syntec survey express a clear preference regarding how to overcome this, with 49% in the UK, 60% in the USA and 54% in Australia saying that secure technology should be used to hide the credit card details from the contact centre agent, and with only 14% or less in each country able to agree that "Organisations I buy from over the phone will keep my personal and card payment details secure".


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