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Washington, D.C., Oct. 13, 2021 — The American Land Title Association (ALTA), the national trade association of the land title insurance industry, announced that the ALTA Registry, the national database of title and settlement agents, added a new feature that allows companies to quickly provide errors and omissions (E&O) policy information to underwriters.
The new feature allows title and settlement companies to upload their E&O information to the ALTA Registry. Underwriters can then access the data to quickly verify the information. This new tool includes document level automatic scrubbing using Deep Secure by Forcepoint’s malware removal technology and data extraction via AREAL’s artificial intelligence powered document processing technology.
“The ALTA Registry has evolved into a data clearinghouse for title underwriters, lenders and settlement agents,” said Jack Rattikin III, CEO of Rattikin Title and co-chair of the ALTA Registry Committee. “The Registry provides an optimal way for underwriters to manage oversight of their agents’ E&O data.”
Nearly 8,800 title agents, settlement companies and real estate attorneys appear in the ALTA Registry. The ALTA Registry allows title insurance agents and settlement companies to communicate with underwriters to confirm their company name and contact information—providing mortgage lenders with a trusted industry online database to identify transaction partners.
The ALTA Registry also closes an access point for potential malware and drives down oversight costs by improving accuracy and automated data downloads.
“A secure and neutral data-sharing utility that benefits all title agents and underwriters will be a welcome solution to maintaining current E&O coverage details,” said Eddie Oddo NTP, vice president of Corporate Business Solutions for First American Title Insurance Company and co-chair of the ALTA Registry Committee. “The Registry standardizes the process and eliminates the need for title agents to send E&O information to multiple underwriters, allowing industry professionals to focus on the tasks that drive their business.”
The ALTA Registry confirms that mortgage lenders are working with the correct title agent, settlement company or real estate attorney. Every title agent office location is identified by a unique ALTA ID, allowing quick verification. Each entry is also fully confirmed by title insurance underwriters. Using the ALTA Registry, mortgage lenders can increase accuracy, reduce production expenses, combat fraud and improve compliance. The ALTA Registry is offered to mortgage companies on a subscription basis.
an article by the Cyber Security Committee
In a world of smart phones, computers, laptops, tablets, Alexa, Siri…. Do you ever wonder if your devices are listening to you? That perhaps your “private” conversations aren’t so “private” after all?
The short answer is “Yes”, these devices have the ability to listen to you and in many cases, they are. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are just a few of the companies that are listening and collecting information, not to mention cybercriminals who are potentially listening in on your smart devices. After all, the device itself may not be recording this information, but once a cybercriminal has access, the fraudster could be recording this information.
As more and more of us continue to work remotely, away from corporate security overlays, it is important for you to think about the conversations you are having while using these types of devices. For example, consider:
1. Are you discussing sensitive transaction information with a client or customer?
2. Are you in meetings discussing proprietary company information?
3. What about the personal conversations you may be having about your health issues or other personal matters?
You may feel safe discussing this kind of information in the privacy of your own home, but always keep in mind that these conversations, and especially the information disclosed, may not be as safe as you think! So, what can be done?
Here are some security tips to consider to keep your private conversations as safe as you can!
The most important thing to remember is that your personal devices are akin to mini-computers. Gaining access to them allows the cybercriminals to access a great deal of personal information that can ultimately be used on the black market against you and your employer. Employing a few safety tips such as the ones mentioned above are easy ways to help safeguard your privacy.
Where are your Secrets being Kept?
Article by the Cyber Security Committee
Office printers/scanners/fax machines (hereinafter “printers”) are a treasure trove of sensitive data. Because they often come with a web-based interface or an internet connection, they have a huge attack surface, making them easy to hack.
How are printers vulnerable?
What do hackers want with printer access?
What are common methods of attack?
Steps/suggestions to protect your printers:
Special considerations to protect your printers AT HOME:
An article from the FLTA Cyber Security Committee
1. COMMUNICATION WITH CONSUMER:
A. Initial Phone Call to Consumer in the beginning of the transaction:
A. Initial Phone Call to Consumer in the beginning of the transaction:
2. COMMUNICATION WITH REALTORS
A. Speak with Realtors at the beginning of the transaction: How are we communicating with them?
A. Speak with Realtors at the beginning of the transaction: How are we communicating with them?
B. Email discussion with Realtors
B. Email discussion with Realtors
Aaron Davis flew from Tampa, Florida, to Austin, Texas, on Friday — because he wanted to help people affected by the snow and ice storm.
"I just felt incredibly guilty sitting down in Tampa, Florida, in the sunshine watching the rest of the country suffer," Davis, 45, tells PEOPLE. "I've weathered many storms in my life in Florida, the hurricane capital of the world."
During the last Florida hurricane, he bought and delivered generators to people in need. "I just try to step up and do what I can," he says.
A business owner (his company does remote real estate closings), Davis told his staff he was taking a month off to volunteer in Texas. "I felt the need to be feet on the ground in Texas to help out however I could," he says.
Read the complete story on People Magazine.
Through Aaron's work with the Harper, TX Fire Department a GoFundMe account has been created calling for funds to assist the community. Aaron has gone on to say, the need is absolutely real and any amount will be a great help.
GoFundMe Account: Harper Winter Storm Disaster 2021.
Dear fellow members,
I would like to start this message by acknowledging the steady leadership and excellent work of our association staff, our Board of Directors (BOD), and everyone who is contributing so significantly with our various committees and working groups. A quick review of the other sections of this Newsletter will reveal the current efforts and priorities of our Association being powered by our industry’s most dedicated professionals. Despite the incredible challenges of the current pandemic, I am very grateful and proud that our Association is in a stronger position at this moment, both financially and structurally, than it was before the pandemic hit us around this time last year. And we have big plans and opportunities to continue our success.
A big focus for this coming month will be our first fully virtual Lobby Days. Those of you that have participated in past years already know that Lobby Days has become one of the most important and impactful events of our Association as we generate awareness and engagement between FLTA members and key policymakers around current Association legislative priorities and promote the overall benefits that the title insurance and real estate settlement industry provides. And now this event is open to easier access and more participation by being virtual. Are you interested in participating? Get more specific details and register.
Another big focus that I would like to highlight starts with the charitable action of past BOD member, Aaron Davis, who has travelled to Texas to help with the natural disaster caused by their recent storm. Our Association was inspired by Aaron’s efforts and has contributed $250 to the Harper, TX, Fire Department GoFundMe Account and we encourage any interested members to contribute individually as well. I know that giving back is an integral part of who we are as individuals, and I am very proud that our Association is evolving in a way that will put formal structure and resources around these efforts. What started with our BOD decision to donate $20,000 to be split between five Florida area food banks with increased demands created by Covid-19 and a call to action for our members that was met with so much enthusiasm has now evolved into formal BOD approval to establish an FLTA affiliated Charitable Action Foundation with 501(C)(3) status and a commitment to strengthening the communities where our members live and work.
We envision our foundational philanthropy will not be simply about writing a check. This new organization will put structure around our ongoing relationships, collaborations, shared missions to serve our communities, and the giving of our time and talents to specific need driven challenges as well as the broader long-term goals. Our Foundation will heighten our Association’s identity internally and externally.
The scientific research, and the development and rollout of vaccines gives us hope that the dark and isolating days of this pandemic are numbered. And in its wake, we will have an opportunity to connect in ways both old and new in order to advance the interests of our title insurance and real estate settlement industry in Florida and to serve our communities better than we have before.
I hope this newsletter contains information that is helpful for you and that you are also proud and engaged in our Association. Your ideas, comments and questions are always welcome! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Len Prescott, 2020-2021 President
Settlement Agent Communications
This newsletter edition contains a combination of both new and updated information, along with a few reminders worth repeating.
Closing process updates
Continuous process improvement is an important part of our business to enhance the customer experience, while improving efficiency and quality. Following are several examples of process improvements you will begin to notice in our closing process as these changes are implemented in phases over the coming months:
System changes will trigger the initial Closing Prep Package delivery and notify the closer to initiate the CD collaboration when pre-requisite loan processing actions have been completed. As soon as the CD collaboration with the settlement agent is successfully completed, the CD will be delivered to the customer. Settlement agents should see earlier requests to initiate CD collaboration, and fewer rush requests.
Email templates for consistent communication of required loan information will be used by all closing teams. Manual data entry is eliminated. Settlement agents should see increased consistency and accuracy in these communications for all loans. Note: Managed vendors should continue to follow defined communication processes.
System changes will notify the closer when there is a change in the transaction that impacts the CD, loan documents, or any other aspect of the loan closing. This will reduce potential delays for closers to be notified of or detect changes. Settlement agents should see a reduction in last minute change notifications.
The closer's ability to release loan documents is sometimes blocked by deferred approval conditions, expiring documents, etc. Process changes will prevent loans that are not clear to close from being prematurely scheduled for closing, and will increase oversight of loan document delivery timing. Settlement agents will see improvement in the timing between scheduling and delivery of loan documents, and fewer closings needing to be rescheduled due to delayed loan documents.
Title order response timing
Fast receipt of the title commitment* is important to expedite the loan process for on-time closings. Wells Fargo's expectation for return of the title commitment is within 5 business days after the title order is placed. For title commitments not received within this timeframe, our follow up process has been enhanced to include the following:
For new construction transactions, the title order timing is aligned to the targeted date for construction completion and closing, but once the order has been placed the same timing expectations and follow up process will be applied.
While most title commitments can be reviewed and cleared quickly upon receipt, unexpected title issues can quickly derail a closing when they are detected late in the process. We appreciate your focus on title commitment turn times, and hope that the information in the follow up reports is helpful to you.
*For Iowa properties, this same follow up process applies to Iowa Title Guaranty orders.
COVID-19 related reminders
Thank you for the innovative options provided for customers to continue to close their loans as safely as possible. Please continue to ensure that anyone who comes in contact with a Wells Fargo customer for closing — including notary signing agents you engage to meet with customers outside of your office — wears a mask and takes all applicable precautions to protect customers and colleagues.
Please also continue to protect our customers' rights to protect the privacy of their health information. Note that Wells Fargo cannot accept or retain any personal health information in our loan file, including any health questionnaires. If we become aware that a customer is not able or willing to proceed with a closing due to health concerns, we will not request an explanation.
While the frequency of recording delays has been reduced, we continue to see examples due to a county recorder office that is closed or with reduced capacity related to COVID-19. When this occurs, Wells Fargo will allow the loan to close subject to the following:
A final important reminder is that Wells Fargo does not allow loan closing documents to be signed electronically or remotely notarized outside of limited RIN and RON LPOA processes implemented through specific, managed vendors.
State-specific update: Florida reduced mortgage and/or intangible tax
The State of Florida - Department of Revenue allows for reduced mortgage tax and/or reduced intangible tax on some refinance transactions. To qualify for the reduced tax, a specific Renewal, Extension and Modification Agreement (REMA) and process to modify the original lien is required.
Wells Fargo policy and process does not support executing this REMA process for our refinance transactions, and therefore requires the Florida tax to be calculated on the entire loan amount and disclosed accordingly in our borrower CD.
We have experienced some examples where settlement agents are attempting to apply the reduced tax to refinance transactions outside of the REMA process. This may be happening due to differing legal opinions on the Florida law, or for other reasons. In any case, this is not allowed on a Wells Fargo transaction. We appreciate your cooperation to adhere to our instructions on this matter for Florida refinance transactions.
IRS Form 1099-NEC
Wells Fargo is required to send Form 1099 to a business that is paid by Wells Fargo for services performed, or for known compensation paid to a business. For settlement agents who closed Wells Fargo loans, Wells Fargo wired loan proceeds to your business, and some of these loan proceeds paid for title and/or closing services performed.
Form 1099-NEC is required when Wells Fargo is acting as a "middleman", making payments of income for services on behalf of someone - in this case, the borrower. This reporting is required because Wells Fargo directly provided payment to your business and has oversight or management of the payment, or has a significant economic interest in the payment being made. Please reference the Middleman Regulations under IRS Regulation Section 1.6041-1(e), "Payments made on behalf of another person".
Applicable 1099-NEC statements for 2020 activity will be mailed on or before January 31, 2021. The Form 1099-NEC provided by Wells Fargo includes fees paid to your business for loan closing services provided during 2020. Wells Fargo referenced the final Closing Disclosure(s) from applicable transactions to determine the amount(s) paid to your business for these services. Reported income was aggregated by Tax ID Number for all Wells Fargo loans closed and funded in 2020. The 1099-NEC is issued using information contained in the W-9 that was provided to Wells Fargo for your business.
Form 1099-NEC can be used as a supplemental document to your accounting books and records. Wells Fargo cannot provide tax advice, so please consult your tax advisor if you have questions. If you or your tax advisor require additional information, please send a written request to us at email@example.com with a detailed description of the information being requested.
Consumer financial protection notice
Consumer financial protection laws and regulations may apply when you have direct or indirect contact with a consumer related to a financial product or service. The following information may be useful to you as a resource to identify the federal consumer financial laws and regulations that are applicable to the services you provide to Wells Fargo customers when you act as the settlement agent.
This is not an all-inclusive list of laws and regulations that your business is subject to, so please consult with your compliance officer or legal advisor with any questions you may have. We appreciate the importance that you place on consumer protection for our mutual customers.
Americans with Disabilities Act, Title III
ADA; Availability of programs, products and services
28 CFR Part 36 Subpart C 36.303; 28 CFR Part 36 Subpart C 36.302
Equal Credit Opportunity Act
12 CFR 1002.4; 24 CFR 100, Subparts B-H
Fair Credit Reporting Act/Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act
Duties regarding detection, prevention and mitigation of Identity Theft, including indication of Fraud and/or Active Military Duty
FCR 605A; 12 CFR 222.90 or 12 CFR 41.90; Section 615(e ); 15 U.S.C. 1681m(e )
Financial Elder Abuse Reporting
Elder Financial Abuse
12 USC 3423(a)(2); 12 USC 3423(b)(1); 12 USC 3423(b)(2)(A)-(C )
Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
Prohibition against Kickbacks and Unearned Fees and Required use of Title Company
12 CFR 1024.14; 12 CFR 1024.16
Privacy of Consumer Financial Information — Restrictions on Disclosing Non-Public Information Under GLBA
Restrictions on Sharing, Receiving, or Reusing Information
12 CFR 1016.11, CFTC Rules 160.11, Reg S-P 248.11, 12 CFR 1016.12, 12 CFTC Rules - 17 CFR 160.12 Reg S-P Rules - 17 CFR 248.12(d)
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (Privacy)
Fax Identifying Information
47 C.F.R. § 68.318(d)
Truth in Lending (Regulation Z)
Disclosures - Consummation
12 C.F.R. §1026.38; 12 C.F.R. §1026.27; 12 C.F.R. §1026.22; 12 C.F.R. §1026.14; 12 C.F.R. §1026.17 and 18; 12 C.F.R. §1026.19; 12 C.F.R. §1026.5 and 6; 12 C.F.R. §1026.4
Record Retention (Regulation Z)
12 C.F.R. §1026.25
12 C.F.R. §1026.23; 12 C.F.R. §1026.15
Unfair, Deceptive (or Abusive) Acts or Practices - Consumer Transactions
PRICE: Appropriate Pricing
16 C.F.R. §433; 16 C.F.R. §444; 15 U.S.C. §45(a) and 45(n); Dodd Frank Act 12 USC §5536; Dodd Frank Act 12 USC §5531
PLACE: Responsible Sales Methods & Appropriate Channels
16 C.F.R. §433; 16 C.F.R. §444; 15 USC § 45(a) and 45(n); Dodd Frank Act 12 USC §5536; Dodd Frank Act 12 USC §5531
PROCESS: Responsible Servicing/Decision Making
16 C.F.R. §433; 16 C.F.R. §444; 15 USC §45(a) and 45(n); Dodd Frank Act 12 USC §5536; Dodd Frank Act 12 USC §5531
Thank you for your time to review this important information. Please share this with your staff and management teams. To request copies of any past newsletter editions, subscribe to future editions, or to provide suggestions, questions and comments please write to us at: WellsFargoSettlementAgentCommunications@wellsfargo.com.
We appreciate your partnership and the service you provide to our customers, and wish you a safe and successful year ahead.
Wells Fargo & Company
Cyber threats are likely to increase and evolve throughout 2021, so start exercising your muscles and get started on your CYBER SECURITY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS before it’s too late!
Make sure you incorporate CYBER SECURITY into your daily workout in 2021 and stay one step ahead of cybercrime with the tips listed above!
**The Cyber Security Committee meets on the first Wednesday of the month and is open to all members. Email Jena Daly if you would like to participate.**
In responds to the initial request of Senator Passidomo and with the approval of Senate President Simpson, The Office of the Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) has published their study on the impact of redaction in the Official Records. A complete report follows the summary.
A Review of Home Address Redaction Processes and Real Property Interests.
Florida has public record laws that apply to a variety of governmental documents, including those relevant to property transactions. While broad access to public records fulfills an important role, these laws can adversely affect some individuals due to their occupation or other status that puts them at increased risk of harm. As a result, s. 119.071(4)(d), Florida Statutes, allows some individuals, largely current or former government judiciary or law enforcement employees, to redact personal identifying information from public records. The spouses and children of most of these government personnel are also eligible for redaction, as are other groups such as members of the military and victims of certain crimes. The redaction ability of eligible individuals under s. 119.071(4)(d), Florida Statutes, including their spouses and their children, is applicable to property records throughout their entire lives with no requirement for renewal.
Florida’s 67 clerks of the circuit court and county comptrollers are responsible for recording official documents, including those related to property transactions. Clerks are also responsible for redacting certain information in these documents when requested by eligible individuals. Additionally, other governmental entities maintain documents with personal identifying information that qualifies for redaction. Eligible individuals must request redaction from each governmental entity that maintains personal identifying information. Clerks have similar processes for redacting information from property records; however, processes for verifying the redaction eligibility of individuals varies.
While overall redaction numbers are low, a 2019 law change expanded the definition of home address resulting in the ability for qualified individuals to redact legal descriptions of property from county official records. Key stakeholders identified several issues related to redaction, including those related to constructive notice, chain of title, potential for fraud, providing a false sense of safety, land surveying, and delays in real property transactions.
Several states have implemented programs to keep eligible individuals’ address information confidential while still granting limited access to property records. The Legislature may consider options to reconcile the goal of protecting individuals’ privacy with the need to protect the public interest in real property. These options include modifying an existing address confidentiality program to include personnel identified in s. 119.071(4)(d), Florida Statutes; requiring qualifying individuals to periodically renew redaction requests; requiring a notarized affidavit for redaction eligibility; and directing the clerks to redact information from internet indexes while making unredacted versions of documents available to the public for inspection and copying in their offices.
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With this Season’s Greeting, I would like to start by thanking every member of this Association as well as our Executive Director, Scott Merritt, and our Administrator, Jena Daly. This year has not at all been what we expected for 2020, but we still have much to be thankful for this year. And my thanks start and end with each of you.
Though we have been apart for the better part of a year, we still found ways to stay connected and advance the interests of our industry. Can you imagine what this year would be like if the FLTA had not already worked:
Words cannot capture the immense pride and gratitude that I have for the leaders of this Association and professionals in our industry as so many have demonstrated incredible support for one another, our customers, our people in need, and the thousands of communities we serve. As an industry and as an Association, we have been dedicated, incredible, and Essential.
And I am so grateful that we were able to maintain a sense of family and community as we bonded together during our first-ever, Virtual Convention: The Roaring 20s – know the past, live in the present, and secure the future. Our Convention and your engagement exceeded my expectations.
Resilience is often thought about in terms of simply getting through challenges, but the key part of resilience isn’t about bouncing back, it’s about bouncing forward. It’s about using adversity as a catalyst to do something new, to get better, and become stronger. Our Association was built to handle moments like this and I ask all of you to continue your engagement and contribute to the FLTA mission, to help increase our adaptability, diversity, and inclusion, and to be resilient together.
Speaking of doing something new, I am incredibly proud that our Board of Directors authorized a $20,000 donation to be split between five Florida area food banks with a call to action for our members to join us in helping those in dire need as a growing number of our neighbors and friends are going hungry. Thank you, Lyndsay Hall Harrison, our Treasurer, for this terrific idea! Our members were so motivated by this call to action that we have already collectively donated more than $55,000 and this is just the beginning. We have added a specific line item for charitable giving into our 2021 Budget and will establish a Charitable Committee so that our Association can continue to make the biggest impact for members of our communities in need.
I am very grateful for your continued involvement during these challenging times. We are truly stronger together and my wish for you remains the same: Have a healthy, safe, and joyous Holiday Season and may the Holiday Cheer get us all to next year with a renewed sense of peace and faith in the future!
2020-2021 FLTA President
Email: Executive Director, Scott MerrittEmail: Executive Assistant, Jena Daly
Florida Land Title Association is a 501(c)6 not-for-profit organization.
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Mailing Address:Florida Land Title AssociationP.O. Box 66145St. Pete Beach, FL 33736