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The Human Face of Fraud: Using AI to expand identity crime victim support

Behind every fraud or identity crime is a human victim. It’s such an elementary concept, and yet we anti-fraud professionals are often so focused on preventing scams that it bears repeating. This is particularly true given the record-breaking levels of fraud that banks and government agencies have encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Victim assistance and education organizations like the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) provide invaluable, no-cost support to victims of identity crimes. Last year, the ITRC served more than 11,000 people through its live contact center alone, and its website attracted more than a million unique visitors. As demand and engagement soared, the national non-profit saw a critical need to expand victim support, and not just during business hours.

A high-tech solution to a human problem
More than just helping anti-fraud pros better detect and prevent fraud, artificial intelligence (AI) is proving a lifeline to fraud victims, as well. Last week at SAS Global Forum, SAS and the ITRC unveiled ViViAN, short for Virtual Victim Assistance Network, the ITRC’s new AI-driven chatbot. This virtual identity theft assistant is the result of a longstanding partnership between SAS and the ITRC.

“We know that fraud never sleeps,” said ITRC President and CEO, Eva Velasquez, via the news announcement. “You don’t necessarily discover you’re an identity theft victim during regular business hours. You can learn about fraud or have a fraud-related question anytime. And now ViViAN is there to offer trusted, credible, customized help exactly when you need it, day or night.”

Through the power of conversational AI technology and natural language processing (NLP), ViViAN empathetically responds to a variety of issues and concerns. Visitors to the website start by initiating a chat and then entering their identity-related issue in the chat box. ViViAN is programmed to respond to the scenarios most commonly encountered by ITRC’s live agents, including:

  • Lost or stolen identity documents and bank cards
  • Discovering a fraudulent credit account, government benefits claim, or unemployment insurance claim
  • Responding to a phishing email
  • Inability to file taxes due to potential tax fraud

Through analytic-driven questions and prompts, ViViAN leads the user through each step toward resolution – or at least gets them started.

Each case is unique. Some users will find that ViViAN gives them all the information they need to get back on track. Others will require the deeper expertise of a live agent. In both scenarios, the chatbot enables the ITRC to help people on nights, weekends, and holidays when live agents aren’t available to respond to requests.

“Having worked with fraud victims, we know it’s such a relief to get information you can act on while waiting to talk to a real person,” said Velasquez. “ViViAN can provide those first steps, complemented later by that live advisor who will follow up and make sure you’re on the path to recovering your identity.”

As someone dedicated to helping organizations across industries leverage data and analytics to fight fraud and financial crime, I find it rewarding to see advanced analytics being used to help fraud victims reclaim their identities. Please connect with me on LinkedIn to share your thoughts – or leave a comment below.

AI-driven ViViAN offers empathetic fraud victim support 24-7
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