We hear about it all the time, wire fraud, cyber security, secure networks and portals. We don’t think it can happen to us, until it does.
The way wire fraud cases are handled is changing. No one is exempt from wire fraud, and going forward, everyone in a transaction could be held responsible for the wire fraud.
As Thomas W. Cronkright II, Esq. and Lawrence Duthler, Esq. of CertifID LLC show in their recent report, all participants in a transaction are responsible for wire fraud loss. A recent Kansas Federal District Court decision ruling found a bank, title company, real estate agent, and real estate broker liable in a transaction hit with wire fraud. The cybercriminal hacked into the seller’s agent’s email and was able to reroute the buyer’s wire to a fraudulent bank account. The buyer lost $196,622.76 that day, none of which was recovered.
“The buyer argued that all defendants had a duty to protect them from the losses they incurred and that the failure of these defendants to live up to that duty led to the fraudulent loss of their funds. In response, the defendants responded by arguing that they owed no duty to the buyer because they did not serve in a formal representative or fiduciary capacity.”
While the bank and title company settled in mediation, it was the seller’s real estate agent and broker who were found liable for 85% of the losses during the transaction, since the fraudulent email came from the seller’s agent.
We don’t think it can happen to us, until it does. And if it does, all parties in the transaction may be held liable. Are you ready for it?
“All defendants had a duty to protect them from the losses.” We all have the duty to protect our clients. That’s why it’s so important to do business with a title company who can secure you and your clients. Agencies in the Florida Agency Network are among the Nation’s top 1% in security, compliance and innovative technology. We work hard behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly, and your clients are protected.
In case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, in a cave, underneath the ocean, or Mars, there has been this hysteria around Cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency comes in several forms, or several coins, we should say, the most popular being Bitcoin. Several others dominating the landscape include Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and approximately 1,600 others at the time of writing this post.
The history of Bitcoin is an intriguing story itself, created by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and released weeks following the global market crash leading to the Great Recession. Perhaps more interesting is that Satoshi Nakamoto is still unknown to this day. He wrote the first white paper on Bitcoin, and created the Blockchain database on which Bitcoin resides. However, no one really knows who this person is. Although mysterious and interesting enough, this doesn’t pertain for our purposes here. What DOES pertain is the technology behind Bitcoin, which is the blockchain.
Blockchain is being built up to be the next version of the internet; Immutable ledger system, unhackable, transparent, and definitely disruptive. However, in a good way. There are several industries that will no doubt be affected by blockchain once it gains acceptance and popularity. You can google hundreds if not thousands of companies who already work on adding blockchain to their existing technology and infrastructure. For example, IBM, Chase, Walmart, FedEx, British Airways are just a few. The brilliance of blockchain is its open ledger format. Once a transaction, whether financial or informational, is executed, the nodes on the network all confirm the data and update the ledger, which allows the latest “block” on the “chain” to be added and confirmed.
Industries in third-party payment processing (banks, money transfer companies, credit card companies, payment processors, payroll companies) will all be affected. Medical Industry with the significant amount data and payments will be affected. Even Crowdfunding platforms and gambling sites will be impacted.
But perhaps none more than Real Estate, title insurance, closing and settlement service providers. As blockchain is adopted into these industries, and paper records and PDFs are replaced by blockchain, we can soon envision a day where “click button, buy house” becomes more of a reality.
One company who is certainly progressive in its technology and use of Blockchain is Propy. Propy is a global real estate marketplace with a decentralized title registry. Propy aims to solve the problems facing international real estate transactions by creating a novel, unified property store and asset transfer platform for the global real estate industry. It allows buyers, sellers, brokers, and escrow/title agents/notaries to come together through the utilization of a suite of smart contracts on blockchain to facilitate transactions.
The key to making these transactions happen is to first understand the technology, and second, understand how the flow of currency, whether US Dollars (also known as fiat, or paper money, in the crypto world) or cryptocurrency, work in these transactions. Currently, title agencies and law firms in the US are bound by several laws, regulations and underwriting restrictions which only allow them to accept “good funds” as payment. Right now, good funds are defined as cashier’s check or wire transfers cleared via the Federal Reserve banking platform. One reason for this is for tax reporting purposes. Other reasons are for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.
There are several companies now working on the exchange integration to convert fiat currency to cryptocurrency, which then would allow for the acceptance of cryptocurrency for closing.
There have been a number of reported transactions who have in fact utilized cryptocurrency to buy a home. However, what likely occurred is the crypto was sold via an exchange, transferred to a traditional banking platform in order to wire US dollars to a title company or law firm’s escrow account. One of the issues still unresolved is the 1099 form and taxation of capital gains related to cryptocurrency. The IRS is quickly adapting to the virtual currency world as seen here.
Although there is still much ground to cover, it is truly exciting to see the technological advancements taking place in the real estate and settlement arena.
Recently, we made an announcement about partnering with Cottrell Title & Escrow. This news is starting to trickle out to the masses, and we’re excited about it! Our official announcement was featured in a recent The Title Report.
We are thrilled to see others taking interest in what we feel is a great move for the State of Florida.
The Florida Department of Financial Services has adopted a new rule (Rule: 69B-186.010) regarding “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the transaction of title insurance.” The rule goes into effect on February 9, 2016 and will ensure the playing field within the title industry continues to have balance.
The ruling details practices and activities that are deemed unfair and unlawful. Some of the activities listed include:
Providing membership in any organization, society, association, guild, union, alliance or club at a discount, reduced rate, or at no cost to a referrer of settlement service business.
Sponsoring and hosting, or paying for the sponsoring and hosting, of open houses for real estate brokers or real estate sales associates to promote their listings.
Paying advertising costs to advertise and promote the listings of real estate brokers or real estate sales associates via publications, signs, emails, websites, web pages, banners, or other forms of media.
While some of the mentioned activities are vague, the FDFS makes the seriousness of each offense known.
To read the full list of illegal activities and the ruling, click HERE.
Here’s a full timeline of how we created the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms, part of our Know Before You Owe: Mortgages project. It’s a look back at our effort to make mortgage disclosures simpler and more effective, with the input of the people who will actually use them.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is signed into law.
The new law required the CFPB to combine the Truth in Lending and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act disclosures.
December 6, 2010
The Treasury Department hosts a mortgage disclosure symposium.
The event brought together consumer advocates, industry, marketers, and more to discuss CFPB implementation of the combined disclosures.
February 21, 2011
Starting with the legal requirements and the consumer in mind, we began sketching prototype forms for testing.
During this process, the team discussed preliminary issues and ideas about mortgage disclosures. This session set the context for the disclosures and was a starting point for their development. The team continued to develop these issues and ideas over more than a year during the development process.
May 18, 2011
Know Before You Owe opens online.
We posted the first two prototype loan estimates. We asked consumers and industry to examine them and tell us what worked and what didn’t. We repeated this process for several future rounds. Over the course of the next ten months, people submitted more than 27,000 comments.
May 19, 2011 – May 24, 2011
Qualitative testing begins in Baltimore.
We sat down with consumers, lenders, and brokers to examine the first set of loan estimate prototypes to test two different graphic design approaches.
A panel of representatives from the CFPB, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) considered the potential impact of the proposals under consideration on small businesses that will provide the mortgage disclosures.
We test Spanish language versions of the disclosures across the country.
We conducted qualitative consumer testing on Spanish language versions of the proposed disclosures. We tested in three cities: Arlington, Va. (October 11-12); Phoenix, Az. (November 14-15); and Miami, Fla. (December 12-13).
April 23, 2013 – June 13, 2013
Validating our testing
With the help of Kleimann Communication Group, the contractor who helped us throughout the testing process, we conducted a quantitative study of the new forms with 858 consumers in 20 locations across the country. By nearly every measure, the study showed that the new forms offer a statistically significant improvement over the existing forms.
June 18, 2013 – July 26, 2013
Additional testing with modified disclosures
In response to comments, we developed and tested different versions of the disclosures for refinance loans, which we tested for three rounds. (In our last round, we tested a modification for both purchases and refinances.) We also did one more round of Spanish language testing for the refinance versions. The modified disclosures tested well and are the ones included in the final rule.
November 20, 2013
A final rule
The CFPB issues a Final Rule. The final rule creates new integrated mortgage disclosures and details the requirements for using them. The rule is effective for mortgage applications received starting August 1, 2015.
Each year, the Florida Realtors® Convention & Trade Expo gathers thousands of Realtors looking to up their game. This years theme is Celebration 15; the event falls on August 19-23 and is held at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida. The free two-day Expo is on Thursday and Friday–all you have to do is register. There are over 30 education sessions sorted into six learning tracks–technology, broker, productivity, trends, personal growth, and continuing education. Along with the Convention, the Trade Expo has over 200 exhibitors that come packed with promotional materials and exquisite raffle prizes. This years keynote speaker is Notre Dame’s former Head Coach Lou Holtz.
On October 3, 2015 the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule will go into effect. The Florida Agency Network (FAN) is leading the industry through uncharted waters to the new disclosures. Title agencies in the FAN network are prepped and ready to keep you afloat before, during, and after these industry changes. Join us at booth 625 as we say Bon Voyage to the HUD-1 and celebrate the implementation of the new Closing Disclosure (CD). Get social with us and enter to win an Apple iWatch!
Washington, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today issued a final rule moving the effective date of the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule, also called the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures rule, to October 3, 2015. The rule requires easier-to-use mortgage disclosure forms that clearly lay out the terms of a mortgage for a homebuyer. The Bureau issued the change to correct an administrative error that would have delayed the effective date of the rule by at least two weeks, until August 15, at the earliest.
The Bureau is finalizing Saturday, October 3 as the effective date. The Bureau believes that moving the effective date may benefit both industry and consumers with a smoother transition to the new rule. The Bureau further believes that scheduling the effective date on a Saturday may facilitate implementation by giving industry time over the weekend to launch new systems configurations and to test systems. A Saturday launch is also consistent with industry plans tied to the original effective date of Saturday, August 1.
The final rule issued today also includes technical corrections to two provisions of the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule.
After months of denying requests from real estate, mortgage and settlement service industry professionals and trade groups to either delay implementation of the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) regulation or agree to enact a “hold harmless” enforcement period, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced today that it will push the Aug. 1 implementation deadline to Oct. 1.
The industries that will be affected by the regulation will now have two more months to prepare their mortgage processing systems, staffs and partners for the sweeping mortgage transaction changes.
The new implementation date came as a relief to many who have been concerned about their ability to comply with the new rule due to technical and operational challenges — not to mention tackling the onslaught of other mortgage industry regulations thrown at them in the last two years — but many are wondering why the bureau had a sudden change of heart.
According to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, the bureau “made this decision to correct an administrative error that we just discovered in meeting the requirements under federal law, which would have delayed the effective date of the rule by two weeks. We further believe that the additional time included in the proposed effective date would better accommodate the interests of the many consumers and providers whose families will be busy with the transition to the new school year at that time.”
In its announcement, the CFPB did not elaborate on the nature of its “administrative error.” However, a spokesman from the CFPB told Inman that the bureau failed to timely notify Congress about the Aug. 1 deadline, a responsibility it has under the Congressional Review Act, which requires agencies to submit the rule to Congress and the Government Accountability Office 60 days before the effective date.
Had the CFPB submitted the rule to Congress and the GAO, its submission should have included a copy of the rule; a concise general statement relating to the rule, including whether it is a major rule; and the proposed effective date of the rule.
Many in the industry are curious about why, after months of trade group letters and comments, testimony in congressional hearings to push for a lenient enforcement period through the end of the year and even federal legislation calling for the CFPB to hold the industry harmless as it adjusts to the sweeping changes, the bureau refused to delay implementation — only to abruptly reverse course less than two months before the Aug. 1 deadline for something as seemingly innocent as an “administrative error” and children starting a new school year.
And some are wondering if that’s the real reason behind the delay.
On March 26, Inman reported that one industry professional, speaking on condition of anonymity, predicted that the CFPB would “announce a delay right after June 18,” which happened to be the date that mortgage industry software provider Ellie Mae planned the release of an update to its mortgage management system, Encompass.
The update included TRID support, but for software that supports about 80 percent of the loan origination systems at small and midsized banks to be released less than 60 days before TRID implementation — during the busy summer months, no less — there are bound to be glitches, our source said.
Other sources tell Inman that other software used by some of the top mortgage lenders and settlement agents in the country “blew up” this week.
Regardless of the reasons behind the CFPB’s announcement, many in the industry are breathing a collective sigh of relief and retooling their preparation efforts for the fall.
“You’ve got to give them credit for pushing the effective date to October,” said Michelle Korsmo, CEO of the American Land Title Association (ALTA), which from the CFPB’s release of the final rule in November 2013 has been the industry trade group that has taken the lead in the educational, training and preparation efforts. “The bureau could have changed the effective dates for a shorter period of time.
“Clearly, the bureau listened to the concerns that industry has for consumers. Consumers would be helped even more if the CFPB also announced a specific hold-harmless period for industry to understand how the forms will work in real-life transactions. Under TRID, some mortgage lenders and settlement service providers may initiate additional risk management tactics that could slow the closing process for homebuyers.”
National Association of Realtors President Chris Polychron said in a statement that “Realtors appreciate that the CFPB has demonstrated an understanding of the need for additional time to accommodate the interests of the many consumers and providers. We will continue to work with CFPB to minimize any possible market disruptions or uncertainty that could develop following the implementation.”
And Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO David H. Stevens lauded the CFPB for continuing “to prove itself capable of working in a transparent, constructive manner throughout this process.”
“The complexity of this rule, which impacts not just mortgage disclosures but also the business processes behind the entire real estate transaction, warrants the additional time to get it right and ensure that consumers are not adversely affected by the transition,” Stevens said.
“MBA will be providing comments on this proposal to recommend the best way to implement the delay in a manner that protects consumers and mitigates disruptions for lenders in the middle of this complex conversion.”
We likely won’t know the full details of what happened at the CFPB until it issues an official proposed amendment to delay the effective date of the TRID rule. The public will have an opportunity to comment on this proposal, and a final decision is expected shortly thereafter.
But we are already hearing that some companies that have been testing new or updated mortgage processing software in the last two weeks are experiencing significant technical glitches.