Last month, Entrust sent out an Agent Alert regarding a phishing scheme whereby crooks were impersonating title insurance underwriters to get a hold of your banking account information. The perpetrators sent out massive amounts of emails targeting agents and attorneys, seeking them to "Confirm Your Wiring Instructions" with them. The emails looked to be as if they were genuine from a trusted source, however they were not.
[pullquote_right]First and foremost, what thieves want is the money in your escrow account.[/pullquote_right]We were completely overwhelmed by the feedback we received from not only Entrust customers, but agents, underwriters and different associations across the nation. Each day we are asked by individuals about what they can do to help prevent them from being a victim of fraud. Although there is no magic solution, the best way to prevent fraud is to arm yourself is through multiple layers of security.
First and foremost, what thieves want is the money in your escrow account. Unfortunately, there are many ways to steal from you. Below are 11 easy processes to implement and help prevent yourself from being the next target:
- Initiate an ACH block on your escrow/trust account (nobody should ever ACH money from your account)
- Don't give out your wiring instructions to everyone, find out who you are dealing with and why
- Do not accept cashier's checks or money orders greater than $500.00
- Do not accept personal checks greater than $500.00
- Wire, Wire, Wire - as much of the incoming funds as you can
- Inform your bank that no wire is ever to be recalled from your account
- Know your banker, a good relationship can help you in bad times
- Use a good quality check stock - don't settle for what is offered by the bank, look around
- Use Positive Pay
- Set up a ZBA (zero balance account) - its hard to steal money from an account where there is no money
- Reconcile your account by the 15th of the month
Keep in mind, thieves will always think up new scams and ways to go after the money in your escrow/trust account. What you want to do is make it so difficult for them to do it, that they go somewhere else. Knowledge is power and we at Entrust will always fight to help protect the settlement and title insurance industry.