HSBC UK's voice recognition technology stops over £300m of attempted fraud

Technology which enables HSBC customers to access bank accounts using their voice as a password has prevented over £300 million falling into the hands of fraudsters since it launched in the UK.

More than 1.6 million HSBC customers across the UK now use VoiceID, which launched in 2016.

HSBC said attempted frauds have been growing, with general increased activity by fraudsters thought to be as a result of a significant number of third-party data breaches as well as phishing emails and scam text messages in recent years.

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The voice biometrics system recognises the unique characteristics of a customer's voice, helping safe and speedy access to telephone banking.

After someone gives their account details, they say the phrase: "My voice is my password," before being given access to their account.

This means there is much less emphasis on customers needing to remember their password which greatly reduces the chance of them needing to go through manual security or resetting their password, HSBC said.

Genuine customers have used the technology 15 million times since it launched in 2016.

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Customers can opt into the service if they want to and it works by recognising people's "voice prints" - which takes account of aspects of someone's speech such as speed and pronunciation as well as physical characteristics which affect their voice such as the shape of the larynx, vocal tract and nasal passages.

The technology has also helped to weed out fraudsters calling the bank.

Since it has been introduced in the UK, over 15,000 fraudulent calls have been identified, with more than £330 million worth of customers' money protected, HSBC said.

In January alone, HSBC UK identified almost 2,000 fraudulent telephone banking calls - a three-fold increase on January 2018 - with almost £33 million of telephone fraud stopped, £24.5 million of which directly resulted from the VoiceID technology.

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HSBC said the technology continues to be instrumental in the fight against fraudsters, providing a "library" of known fraudsters' voice prints who have previously raised red flags with the bank to cross check against new incoming calls.

Voice prints of over 150% more telephone fraudsters were captured by the technology in 2018 than the previous year.

Mark Bramley, HSBC's head of business management in its contact centres, said: "The introduction of VoiceID has not only made it much more convenient for customers accessing their accounts, it has also been instrumental in stopping more attempts at telephone fraud than ever before and protecting customers' money.

"The significant increase in fraudsters attempting to get unauthorised access to accounts means that we are continually increasing our library of voice prints, helping to keep customers' money safe."

Here are HSBC UK's tips to avoid falling victim to fraud:

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- Protect your data. Do not give away your passwords, Pins or secure key codes.

- Do not be complacent. Keep up-to-date on the latest scams and follow the advice from Take Five which raises awareness of fraud.

- Do not trust what a stranger on the phone says. You would not give out details to a stranger in the street, so be on your guard. If you are unsure, call the company back on a known genuine number.

- Be aware of telephone spoofing, where fraudsters use technology to make their texts or emails appear to be from a genuine source.