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An Expanded Home-Based Contact Center Workforce Could Lead to Increased Identity Theft


The rapid transition demonstrated by the contact center industry to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic was, quite honestly, amazing. However, our industry never gets a chance to rest. Once we solve one problem, the next pops up in what could best be described as a “Whac-A-Mole” game.

I have been thinking a lot about the hundreds of thousands of employees who suddenly transitioned to work from home. Many companies, including outsourcers, have WFH groups already in place. Those groups were built with the right recruiting, talent, and behavioral assessments needed to pick employees best suited to adapt to a work-from-home environment. The companies also had the right technology in place and, in some cases, conducted random home audits.

As impressive as this massive changeover to a largely remote workforce was, the shift leaves our industry, our clients, and our businesses exposed to lack of production, fraud, and liability.

Let’s run a real-world scenario:

Take 100,000 new work-from-home agents and assume 0.5% of those agents are involved in a case of fraud or identity theft in the next 90 days. That would be 500 cases.

The implications for customer satisfaction and liability are immense. Consumers are always conscious of and sensitive to the way they are treated. With social pressure and potentially limited income, the chance for customer churn and dissatisfaction only increases.

Here are four security challenges to this WFH workforce you should discuss with your team:

1. Workstation Security

Even with multi-factor authentication, what prevents someone else in an agent’s household from having access to consumer information? How do you know the person who logs in is the same person working on the workstation 30 minutes or three hours later?

2. Home Environment Security

Similarly, what protections are in place to prevent others in the WFH environment from looking over the shoulder of the agent and observing consumer information? Most agents do not have the luxury of a dedicated office.

3. Cell Phones

Do you know when agents are using cell phones during their shift, texting, browsing, or even taking pictures of workstation displays? Such behavior is easy to control in a call center but much more difficult in a WFH environment.

4. Desk Notes

How do you know agents don’t have a pen and paper on their desk, writing down information that is not destroyed properly?

Concerning liability, there is a precedent in contact center compliance law known as “accomplice liability.” Under this standard, a business can be held liable for the actions of other companies if it knows, has reason to know, or consciously avoids knowing of illegal acts and continues to do business with the other company.

We are entering uncharted waters when it comes to liability issues in the security of personal information. Companies must be as proactive as possible to try to anticipate these hurdles and devise remedies to problems as they arise.