The Pindrop Story: How Fraud Detection On The Phone Just Got More Accurate

Written by Dana Sanchez

Caller ID can be tricked into telling you that a request for a new credit card or wire transfer is coming from Atlanta. But if the call is really coming from a Skype phone in Russia, Pindrop Security can tell.
An Atlanta-based company, Pindrop provides fraud detection software for phone calls. Pindrop announced this week that its technology is 20 percent more accurate thanks to new voiceprinting capabilities.
It’s important for the world to know this because Pindrop has some very big-name Silicon Valley investors behind it. These include Andreessen Horowitz, Citi Ventures (the venturing arm of Citi), Felicis Ventures (it backed Credit Karma, also from Atlanta), CapitalG (formerly Google Capital, the late-stage growth venture capital fund financed by Alphabet Inc.); GV (formerly Google Ventures, it provides seed, venture, and growth-stage funding to tech companies,) and IVP, which this week announced it had raised its largest fund yet — $1.5 billion.
John T. Chambers, the executive chairman Cisco, is on the board of Pindrop. The Silicon Valley-based Cisco is No. 60 on the Fortune 500 list, and manufactures and sells networking hardware.

Pindrop’s artificial intelligence identifies who’s on the phone and checks the caller against a set of people the company has identified as fraudsters. It has the world’s largest collection of fraud profiles, and the profiles include phoneprints, voiceprints and recorded behavior of fraudsters.
Voiceprinting lets Pindrop identify repeat fraudsters and add them to a blacklist.
Vijay Balasubramaniyan co-founded Pindrop in 2011 with Paul Judge, a serial entrepreneur who earned a Ph.D. at Georgia Tech.
“We extract about 147 different features from the audio of the call,” Balasubramaniyan said in a GaTech.edu report. “These features uniquely identify the phone as well as what type of device is making the call and where in the world that call is coming from. That allows us to differentiate what is a legitimate call and what is a fraudulent call.”
When Balasubramaniyan presented the concept of acoustic fingerprinting phone calls at a computer security conference in 2010, he ignited a frenzy of media coverage.This launched a flood of inquiries from banks and financial services companies.
Pindrop worked with Georgia Tech’s VentureLab program, which helps faculty and staff commercialize technology developed in research labs.

“Atlanta has good ideas and technical geniuses who deserve a global stage,” Judge said in a GaTech.edu interview. Pindrop

Balasubramaniyan worked for large tech companies such as Siemens and Intel before Pindrop. The work is hard but meaningful at Pindrop, he said.
“To hear our customers talk about situations where we have protected somebody’s life savings or somebody’s retirement account, on a day-to-day basis, that is what makes this job really meaningful.”
Pindrop’s second generation of phoneprinting analyzes 10 times more audio features than the first, the company said in a press release. It can create a high-resolution telephony profile and detect anomalies that indicate fraud with up to a 20 percent more accuracy in catching the repeat fraudsters that do the most damage. Pindrop says it could catch an additional $50 million in fraud losses for its existing customers.
Customers include SunTrust and some of the biggest banks, insurers, and retailers in the world, Pindrop said in a press release.
Phone-based fraud is a massive problem around the world, VentureBeat reported:
Scammers can call from anywhere and try to get sensitive data, perform financial transactions, and pull off other nefarious deeds. It’s an attack that preys on the charitable instincts of the person on the other end of the call center phone.
Here are some numbers on fraudulent phone calls, according to Pindrop:
  • The U.S. receives a fraudulent call every second.
  • Fraud losses totaled $14 billion in 2016.
  • Companies spend $8 billion annually on authenticating customers.

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About Dana Sanchez
Dana Sanchez is the editor of Moguldom.com and AFKInsider.com. She has worked in digital and print news media as a business writer and news editor. She has a master's degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. Prior to working in news, Dana worked in advertising.

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