Combating Identify Theft and Fraud in Real Time

New Unisys software ARMS financial institutions in their fight against fraud

Identity theft is on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission calls it the fastest growing crime ever, costing Americans more than $1 billion annually.

Financial institutions obviously shoulder some of that identity theft cost, and increasingly (thanks to government terrorism concerns) they're responsible for finding and stopping it, as well as money laundering and fraud. On April 30, the Treasury Department issued new USA Patriot Act rules requiring financial institutions to establish procedures to verify the identity of new accountholders.

Of course. financial institutions know it’s a problem. In the American Bankers Association Deposit Account Fraud Survey 2002, four out of 10 regional banks pegged organized fraud rings as the top threat against the industry in the next year. Another four out of 10 regional banks, and six out of 10 “super-regionals,” cited identity fraud.

To help financial institutions arrest instances of fraud, identity theft, and money laundering, and to help them comply with government regulations, Unisys Corp. and real-time analytics software provider Actimize Inc. released the Unisys Active Risk Monitoring Solution (ARMS). Unisys is targeting the software at four sectors: banking and mortgage, life insurance and pension, property and casualty/general insurance, and enterprise payment.

“Financial institutions today must contend with sophisticated fraud and money laundering schemes spanning multiple products and channels,” says Elazar Katz, ARMS practice director in the Global Financial Services group at Unisys. ARMS, he says, will let institutions “address their vulnerabilities in record time,” and allow “security officers to accelerate responses to emerging threats.”

To detect fraud or other criminal activity, the risk monitoring system taps a broad range of existing enterprise data information sources, including customer information, then monitors transactions in real time, without needing to centralize live data in a data warehouse. Unisys says the monitoring software operates in near-real time, analyzing each transaction, typically in less than 1/500th of a second.

The software looks for collusion among multiple individuals and analyzes multiple events as potential criminal scenarios. Such an approach tackles two challenges: detecting criminal activity fast enough to not just report it but respond to it, and allowing security managers to implement rapid countermeasures to mitigate or minimize newly discovered fraud schemes.

When detecting and stopping fraud, speed is of the essence. In fact, “significant work has been done in the past on developing algorithms and business intelligence technologies,” notes Neil Katkov, senior analyst at Celent Communications. However, those algorithms typically require data warehouses, creating a bottleneck—information must be copied from multiple sources to the data warehouse, and then analyzed. “Less attention has been paid to the logistical complexity of dynamic data collection and profiling imposed by continuously changing requirements.”

The Unisys approach to solving those logistical problem—ARMS—may be just what your bank needs to protect your identify and reduce fraud.

About the Author

Mathew Schwartz is a Contributing Editor for Enterprise Systems and is its Security Strategies column, as well as being a long-time contributor to the company's print publications. Mr. Schwartz is also a security and technology freelance writer.