ALTA's Business Strategies Conference in Oklahoma City

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American Land Title Association's Business Strategies Meeting

March 13 - 15, 2013

Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Hotel

Come and hear Jonathan Yasko, Founder and Managing Member of Entrust Solutions discuss:

Fraud and Your Escrow/Trust Accounts

Friday, March 15, 10:45 a.m. - 12:00 Noon

This session will include:

Fraud can be financially devastating to any title professional, but there are various procedures that can be implemented to protect escrow/trust accounts.  This session will address when fraud typically occurs, how it occurs, the impact fraud has on the industry, new market demands to reduce settlement risk and proper procedures that should be followed.  Attend this session to ensure you understand the latest fraud trends and what you can do to make sure you don't fall prey to a fraud scheme.

Agent Alert - Smartphones and Your Escrow Account

Be Smart About Smartphones

If you're a crook and want to double your proceeds from a real estate transaction, "there's an app for that." 

Every day there is a new smartphone app that is designed to make your life easier, but at least one may be a problem for closing agents. Banks are now releasing smartphone applications that will allow their customers to complete the deposit of a paper check from anywhere using their smartphone. Just use the cell phone camera to take a picture of the front and back of the paper check, press a few buttons, and voilà! Your check has been deposited into your account. Watch this YouTube Video (may have an advertisement before the video) that shows you how this process works. However, convenience for the customer can spell trouble for closing offices that get duped by someone who receives a check as a result of a closing. The following scam occurred in Florida.

A couple left their closing with a check for their proceeds. A couple of hours later, they returned to the closing office with the check and asked for a wire transfer instead. The unsuspecting closer voided the check and processed the wire. Unfortunately, they had used their smartphone and deposited the check before returning it to the closing office.

Most closing agents would not even have issued a Stop Payment request to their bank because they would have felt secure with having their original check in hand. In this case, even if they had issued a Stop Payment request, it would have been ineffective because the check would have already cleared their account and the wire would have double funded the recipient!

Even normal, "positive pay" protections would not have caught this, as the original check had already been approved for payment. This new age scam could have been prevented by just refusing to wire the proceeds. Sometimes it pays to just say you are sorry but once a check is cut, you cannot change the method of payment.

While more and more banks are offering this service, most have imposed a limit on the amount of money that can be deposited via smartphone. But even a $1,000 loss is too much to absorb. Pass this on to all your staff and remain aware of new scams spawned by new technology.

As always, if you have any questions you can always email us at info@goentrust.com

Are you being cancelled for low production by your underwriter?

  Every day I receive phone calls from attorneys and agents who need our help because they didn’t meet the minimum remittance requirements mandated by the underwriter, despite often having been an agent for years without a single claim.  Ultimately most say they’ve never been a large producer, but don’t understand why now, after all these years, the underwriter no longer wants to do business with them.

[pullquote_right]"Has your access to title insurance underwriting been cancelled for low production, or is about to be?"[/pullquote_right]

Unfortunately, this is happening all over the country. Many title insurance underwriters have calculated that the cost of doing business has become too great to support small to medium sized agents in a down real estate market.  Adding to the problem, by mid-2010 there were only 54 title insurance underwriters nationwide, down from 91 in 2008.  This time frame includes the loss of the LandAmerica brand, as well as Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund.  Last year, two large regional underwriters, Southern Title Insurance Corporation and New Jersey Title Insurance Company, were suspended from issuing new policies and ultimately put in to runoff due to large agent/attorney defalcations.  Underwriters have become afraid of the agents with whom they do business.

Some of the remaining underwriters still in business today have restructured their operations and are moving to the direct market, (away from independent agents) as they don’t want to become the next victim of an agent/attorney defalcation.  They realized if they are going to assume 100% of the risk, they may as well receive 100% of the premium and closing costs, increasingly pushing independent title agents out of the picture.  In some cases, underwriters have completely pulled out of a particular area or even an entire state.  You, the title agent, inevitably end up getting punished for something completely unrelated to you and your practice.

We must realize there is a cost of doing business and accept the net required remittance minimums have nowhere to go but up.  If you need help I strongly encourage you to visit our website (www.goentrust.com) or contact us at 865-691-1287.  Our Nexus Program is currently active in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida and we can assist your company with your real estate closings.  If you currently have a relationship with your underwriter, but need help with your back office production, we have the following services available nationwide that can help:[list_style1]

  • Escrow / trust account reconciliations
  • Forms production (commitment and policy typing)
  • Centralized disbursing
  • File scanning
  • And more… [/list_style1]

Having worked “inside” the auditing and risk management departments of title insurance underwriters,  I have a sense for both what underwriters need to feel secure, and what agents need to get closings done quickly and efficiently, while minimizing the risks for both that can come with trying to add closings to a practice whose main focus may be elsewhere, or trying to build up staff on short notice with unfamiliar personnel.

Entrust can help.  If low volume or lack of back office personnel are holding your practice back from seizing opportunities to close real transactions in our recovering market, give us a call.  If you need help, we have options.

Thank you.

Agent Alert - Be Smart About Smartphones

Be Smart About Smartphones If you’re a crook and want to double your proceeds from a real estate transaction, “there’s an app for that.”

Every day there is a new smartphone app that is designed to make your life easier, but at least one may be a problem for closing agents. Banks are now releasing smartphone applications that will allow their customers to complete the deposit of a paper check from anywhere using their smartphone. Just use the cell phone camera to take a picture of the front and back of the paper check, press a few buttons, and voilà! Your check has been deposited into your account. Watch this YouTube video that shows you how this process works. However, convenience for the customer can spell trouble for closing offices that get duped by someone who receives a check as a result of a closing. The following scam occurred in Florida.

A couple left their closing with a check for their proceeds. A couple of hours later, they returned to the closing office with the check and asked for a wire transfer instead. The unsuspecting closer voided the check and processed the wire. Unfortunately, they had used their smartphone and deposited the check before returning it to the closing office.

Most closing agents would not even have issued a Stop Payment request to their bank because they would have felt secure with having their original check in hand. In this case, even if they had issued a Stop Payment request, it would have been ineffective because the check would have already cleared their account and the wire would have double funded the recipient!

Even normal, "positive pay" protections would not have caught this, as the original check had already been approved for payment. This new age scam could have been prevented by just refusing to wire the proceeds. Sometimes it pays to just say you are sorry but once a check is cut, you cannot change the method of payment.

While more and more banks are offering this service, most have imposed a limit on the amount of money that can be deposited via smartphone. But even a $1,000 loss is too much to absorb. Pass this on to all your staff and remain aware of new scams spawned by new technology.