She was on track towards a career as a dentist, but Tehani Legeay’s path took a vastly different course with her now helping Australians to protect against identity fraud.
Our Game Changers host Gemma Acton talks to Tehani, General Manager of Identity and Fraud at Equifax, about the technology tools which verify people are who they say they are and how her work takes her into financial counter-terrorism.
Gemma: From establishing that someone is who they say they are, to stopping sophisticated fraud rings in their tracks, Tehani Legeay and her Equifax team has the technology to do all this quickly and accurately. This means financial inclusion for more people and minimising fraud risks for organisations. So, is she a game changer? Let’s find out! I’m Gemma Acton, welcome to Game Changers.
Gemma: Tehani, welcome to Game Changers. Let’s talk about your career, from dentistry to technology, I don’t think I’ve ever started an interview off in that way before. Explain to us why that actually makes sense?
Tehani: I always wanted to be a dentist when I was young. I was inspired by one of my friend’s dads and learned more about the profession, I really felt as a female I could make an impact. I started in dentistry but then I decided to have a family and had go into the workforce to support that family. Even though I had always dreamed of using my profession to travel the world with Dentists Without Borders, I found myself in a different situation and was still able to do that in technology. Now I’ve travelled around the corporate world helping people through technology.
Gemma: One of your really important roles is helping customers get the confidence that who they’re dealing with is actually who they are. Talk to us about that work.
Tehani: I look after a portfolio of fraud and identity services. The whole purpose of that is helping Australian businesses grow safely and we do that by helping them verify identity and prevent fraud through a number of different searches. What’s really important about that is that every business is different, and they get to choose what identity verification means to them. They may ask: “how do I prevent fraud?” and then they can do that through us. I feel a great sense of responsibility, with a position of privilege to be able to deliver that to Australian businesses as that really helps the Australian economy as a whole.
Gemma: You have a lot of great tools at your disposal and Kount is one of the products that is a key weapon in Equifax’s fight against online payments fraud. Tell us about that and about Omni-score. How does it help?
Tehani: Traditionally, we’ve really focused on verifying identity and preventing fraud at that critical moment of truth, which is customer acquisition. Kount is down the line, at a later stage of the life cycle, when I’m going to transact with you on an ongoing basis. Therefore, we’re not just protecting up front we’re also doing that throughout the customer lifecycle.
At that point of acquisition, we’ll verify identity and prevent fraud through access to a number of data sets. Kount looks at hundreds of different data points and that generates the Omni-score, which tells me if I know this person and if can trust them.
Gemma: Now Tehani, your team helps local Australian businesses, but their customers aren’t always in the next room or down the street. They can come from anywhere in the world.
Tehani: That’s right. It’s really important for our customers not just from a regulatory perspective – also from their own risk and compliance perspective – to understand, “I have verified Tehani but is she a politically exposed person that might bring additional risk to my business or is she on a sanctions list in another country?”. Super important for businesses to at least be aware of so they can make their own decision, based on their risk appetite, whether they want to do business with them.
Gemma: This brings me to another strand of the work your team does. I’ve seen you do work around counterterrorism financing, even gambling. How big a part of your workload is that? T: Yes, verifying identity and preventing fraud isn’t just limited to financial services, it’s across all Australian businesses. We help telecommunications, gambling, utilities and payments companies. As the digital economy continues to grow and as we transact more and more online, that is cutting across the entire economy. Businesses need to know who they’re about to do business with and prevent fraud, which cuts across the whole Australian economy.
Gemma: It feels like it’s an increasingly important role as well.
Tehani: The Australian government made a statement a few years ago to say that the digital economy is one of the key areas to support future GDP growth. A key component of the digital economy, if I want to transact online, is needing to verify identity and prevent fraud. Doing that electronically creates a frictionless experience and enables those services for people. Although it was seen as a strategic imperative, the pandemic forced the hand of that digital adoption. The ability to access services online was no longer strategic but now mandatory and I feel like we played a critical role in that. A great by-product here, is that it democratises access to services for humans and I feel really privileged to be a part of that.
Gemma: It sounds as though this is something that really inspires you in your work every day.
Tehani: Definitely. I’m personally really proud of the fact that I was able to start my life from scratch and have a combination of things that I had to learn on my own. I’ve had a lot of luck and opportunity to create something out of nothing. In addition to being a part of a portfolio and a broader business where I can easily justify is doing a greater good, it’s now really important to me to show to others who are in my previous position to make something out of nothing. So, I’m personally motivated to help other people do that.
Gemma: Now Tehani, cybersecurity might not have been top of anyone’s radar a few years ago. It’s on everybody radar now after some high-profile hacks in Australia. What are you working on next? How do you continue to safeguard customers as the threat just seems to grow?
Tehani: We’re continuously focusing on helping our customers make better decisions at that point of customer acquisition. All of our products, whether it’s identity verification or fraud prevention, are brought to life in our fraud and identity decisioning platform ID Matrix. There are customers today picking the identity data sets that they want to use to verify identity and we’re constantly on the hunt for other data sets to add and help verify more customers. Similarly, on the fraud side, we have a large range of fraud prevention searches. Again, we’re continuously searching for good fraud prevention data sets that we can add to that so customers can decide if they want to make better customer acquisition decisions.
Gemma: That sounds like our customers have a very strong toolkit are they disposal. Tehani thank you so much.
Tehani: Thank you, Gemma.
More about Equifax
Equifax powers the financial future of individuals and organisations around the world. Using the combined strength of unique trusted data, technology and innovative analytics. Equifax has grown from a consumer credit company into a leading provider of insights and knowledge that helps its customers make informed decisions. The company organises, assimilates and analyses data on more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide, and its database includes employee data contributed from more than 6,600 employers.
Find our more here: Equifax.com.au