Voice authentication speeds up tax office calls

30,000 people using 'voiceprints', ATO says

More than 30,000 people have already recorded a 'voiceprint' with the Australian Taxation Office, allowing quicker ID verification during calls to the ATO.

"For people who call us regularly, voice verification will speed up the authentication process and cut the time they need to spend on the phone to the ATO," ATO second commissioner Geoff Leeper said in a statement.

The ATO has allowed callers to record voiceprints since late August.

The agency handles 8 million calls every year. Three quarters of them require the caller's identity to be verified.

A voiceprint is a "digital representation of the sound, rhythm, physical characteristics and patterns in a voice" according to an ATO statement.

ATO assistant commissioner John Dardo told the Biometrics Institute Asia Pacific Conference in Sydney in May that the agency planned to roll out voice-based authentication.

"Voice authentication is particularly attractive to us because it allows us to say that somebody doesn’t have to be tied to a specific device," Dardo said. The technology can be used for outbound calls, Dardo said.

The system can save up to 45 seconds per call.

The ATO's online guide to the new system said that people calling the agency may still have to answer identity verification questions even if they have recorded a voiceprint.

Centrelink also supports the use of voiceprints.

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