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Discover takes new approach to fraud as coronavirus drives more online, phone applications

American Banker

As the coronavirus pandemic has forced branch closures and halted many mail-in applications, consumers have increasingly shifted to phone and digital channels to open new accounts and service existing ones — creating new challenges in fighting fraud.

Discover transitioned all of its 8,000 U.S.-based call center personnel to work from home within a matter of days following the U.S. declaration of a national emergency on March 13. By March 20, Discover had 95% of its agents working from home using a thin- client device to emulate their call center desktops.

While this has proved critical in keeping employees safe, it has also created a new learning challenge.

“We’re learning a lot about how to collaborate in this environment. I think it’s forced us to become better connected in working from home than when we were all in our offices,” said Dennis Michel, senior vice president of customer service and engagement at Discover. “It’s important because we’ve seen an uptick in travel-related chargeback disputes — 300% higher overall and airlines alone up over 967%. We need to address valid customer requests quickly.”

Working from home has also forced Discover to be creative in verifying how it confirms who is calling its agent to make sure callers are who they say they are, and where they are.

“We have built a filter that tracks the inbound call, somewhat similar to a caller ID to identify who is calling and where they are calling from to help us,” Michel said.

Now nearly 95% of Discover’s new account applications are online. In other words, mail-in applications for new credit cards are all but nonexistent.


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