Skip to main content

Is that really you? More companies are turning to voice biometrics for security purposes

Incipio NGP Case
Image used with permission by copyright holder
No amount of security is too much security when it comes to our bank accounts, and now, your own voice may serve as that added layer of protection. Technology known as voice biometrics seems to be the next big thing in keeping your accounts safe and sound, especially with the alarming rise in call-in center fraud. In this latest version of trickery, criminals take advantage of human error and human emotions when they dial into a customer service line, describe some fictional situation that garners the representative’s sympathy, and subsequently gain access to sensitive data and, of course, money. $10 billion worth last year, in fact.

“[Banks] closed and locked the door online, but they left the window open with the call centers,” Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of fraud detection company Pindrop Security, told CNN. And despite advances made with physical credit cards, like the Chip and PIN system, one step forward in the security realm sometimes means two steps back, as resourceful criminal masterminds find new vulnerabilities to attack.

According to CNN, a sales specialist at data security company Nice Systems named Erica Thomson has described fraudulent “clients” of a bank who can call a company more than 20 times a day, each time pretending to be someone else and claiming that they’re in a foreign country with a lost credit card, or in some other compromising situation in which a quick fix is desperately needed. And sometimes, in a rush to provide good customer service, representatives fall victim to these lies.

This makes technologies like voice biometrics all the more important — as CNN explains, companies like Nice Systems “can record call-in center conversations, verify the caller, and then convert the voice into a voiceprint to serve as a comparison the next time that person (or someone claiming to be that person) calls.” So when you’re told that your call is being recorded, sometimes it’s not just for quality assurance purposes — it’s for your own security.

But beyond preventing fraud, banks are also turning to voice biometrics to allow for larger transactions to take place via mobile devices. Because most people are still uncomfortable making huge deposits anywhere other than a physical bank, corporations like Wells Fargo are looking into the creation of mobile apps that makes use of some serious James Bond-esque security measures.

Tarun Wadhwa of Forbes had the chance to test out Wells Fargo’s “experimental, biometric-based commercial banking app,” and recalled announcing, “My voice gives me access to proceed, please verify me,” whereupon the phone “scanned [his] face to see if [his] lips were moving.” Then, Wadhwa had to read a series of numbers out loud, and once the app verified a voice match, it finally unlocked itself.

Thanks to the improved technological capabilities of our smartphones, facial recognition and voice biometric methods are actually becoming more and more feasible for widespread use, and Wadhwa notes that “Visa, Mastercard, and American Express all have their own biometric initiatives underway.”

But of course, given that Siri sometimes still has trouble understanding us, don’t expect to do a whole lot of voice verification anytime soon.

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more