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  • 03/15/2021 3:37 PM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    An article from the FLTA Cyber Security Committee


    1.  COMMUNICATION WITH CONSUMER:

    A.  Initial Phone Call to Consumer in the beginning of the transaction:

    • Verbally confirm that the request to initiate the wire is from an authorized person within the title company and inform them that the wire instructions will not change.
    •  A cashier’s check, a certified check or a wire transfer is acceptable to bring to closing. Many title companies today only accept wire transfers, also please be aware that title companies cannot accept over $500 in cash.  You cannot use a personal check.
    •  Communicating directly with title company:  Secure transmittal of documents and information
      • Some title companies will utilize a portal for sharing documents and information.  A client portal is a website, web application or mobile device which provides businesses a secure storage space to let all parties share important documents or information related to the closing process.
      • Use of secure and encrypted email is a best practice today.  Regular un-encrypted emails are easily read by anyone, regardless of whether that person was the intended recipient or not. With secure email encryption, individuals and enterprise systems render the contents of the message unreadable as the email is sent from origin to destination. Most encryption requires a password to access the information in the email.
      • Contact the closing company via the phone number listed on their internet website or call the direct line that you have been using throughout the process and especially on day of the wire transfer.  Never use the phone number listed on an email.  If someone whom you have not spoken with from the title company calls you to verify personal information, get your social security number or verify wiring instructions inform them you will call them back and use the phone number from website or direct line.
      • Verbally confirm wire instructions directly with the title company where you are closing. Be alert and speak directly with the title company if you suspect any email, text compromise or suspicious activity related to your closing.

    2.  COMMUNICATION WITH REALTORS

    A.  Speak with Realtors at the beginning of the transaction: How are we communicating with them?

    • Understand your realtor’s means of communication
      • Communication takes the lead in most things that you do during the closing process. Effective communication goes beyond saying a couple of things and assuming that you are on the same page with your realtor partners. One important consideration is finding how the realtor likes to interact and following a preferred method. Most realtors today like to communicate by email or even text messaging. There are some folks that would like you to pick up the telephone to call. Some are tech savvy and prefer to use another mean of communication. It is best to set proper expectations with your realtor at the beginning of the transaction to avoid any miscommunications.
    • Consider using a portal for communication
      • Some title companies will utilize a portal for client communication. A client portal is a website, web application or mobile device which provides businesses a secure storage space to let all parties share important documents or information related to the closing process.
      • With the client portal, customers don’t have to reach out to the company for each item in a transaction This creates less strain on the company, as they don’t have to answer the phone call or get engaged in any type of real-time conversation.
      • Although client portals are more secure than email, many businesses have a concern about the security of their data in the cloud. These types of businesses can opt to have a private cloud for their sensitive data and take the on-premises hosting of software.
    • Telephone verification on the day of the wire transfer
      • Verbally confirm the request to initiate the wire from an authorized person within the title company.
      • §  Contact the closing company via the phone number listed on their internet website or call the direct line that you have been using throughout the process, especially on the day of the wire transfer.
    • Create a standard warning document about wire fraud and other real estate scams
      • You may wish to consider adding a warning to your email signature line on wire fraud. This notice should not serve as a substitute for educating your clients and other participants in your real estate transactions about email wire fraud.
      • Provide a document that informs your Buyers and Sellers of wire fraud: what it is, how it occurs and how to protect yourself from it.

    B.  Email discussion with Realtors  

    • Open email system:
      • An open email system provides visibility to all team members.  From a business perspective, the open system is a great convenience for sharing information and coordinating business process functions, but it also creates significant security risks because of the lack of privacy that is the essence of its very nature.  The more people who have access, the more exposure to risk. 
      • Additionally, email, itself, is an open format because it can be viewed by anyone who can intercept it (i.e. hackers), despite whether the system is intentionally designed to be shared among team members.
    • Compare to secure email:
      • Today, there are two main protocols used for encrypting emails: TLS, encrypting an email while it’s in transit and End-to-end email encryption.  Encrypted email technology is meant to render the content of your emails unreadable as they travel from origin to destination.  For emails that hold highly sensitive information it is best to use End-to-End encryption. It is designed so that the content can only be decrypted by the intended recipient on their device. While TLS provides strong protection against attacks, the emails are still only secure when they are in transit. Take precautions to preserve privacy, and do not copy other service members on the email, as this could lead to compromising sensitive information or attachments related to the file.
    • Tools to secure email:
      • There are various technology tools available for purchase to create an encrypted email environment, such as automation and digital signatures. However, there are also some very simple steps to take, as well as free or low-cost tools available, to help secure your email:
      • Do not share a common email account with anyone else
      • Use strong passwords; change email passwords frequently, especially before sending out wiring instructions
      • Employ a unique and not easily reproducible email name
    • Email Hosting Services for secure email
      • When using a common email platform, like Gmail or Yahoo, it is relatively easy for a fraudster to impersonate another’s email; after all, anyone can sign up for a free Yahoo or Gmail account.  By changing one solitary letter in a free account email name, a hacker has an excellent chance of passing himself or herself off as the authentic sender – particularly when the recipient does not look too closely at the spelling of an expected email. 
      • An alternative is to use an “email hosting service,” such as Go Daddy, to purchase a specific, unique domain name for your email that cannot be impersonated (e.g. JohnDoe@MyBestRealtor.com).  These services have a variety of options, such as a landing page (i.e. a webpage that subscribers are directed to after filling in fields for contact), and encryption. 
  • 02/25/2021 3:48 PM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    Aaron Davis flew from Tampa, Florida, to Austin, Texas, on Friday — because he wanted to help people affected by the snow and ice storm.

    Florida Good Samaritan Dubbed 'Tampa Chainsaw Man' Helping Texans in Deep-Freeze Crisis"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.


  • 02/25/2021 3:36 PM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    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 lprescott@firstam.com.

    Respectfully,

    Len Prescott, 2020-2021 President


  • 02/05/2021 11:11 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    WFSettlementAgent2

    Wells Fargo

    Settlement Agent Communications

    News for Wells Fargo Settlement Agents

    January 21, 2021

     

    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:

    • Delivery of the borrower Closing Disclosure (CD) to our customer earlier, at a more consistent point in the loan process.

    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.

    • Auto-populated email templates for use by closers to communicate critical loan information to settlement agents nationally.

    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.

    • Consistent and timely notification of transaction changes.

    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.

    • Improvements to enable a more timely delivery of the loan documents for closing.

    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:

    • Follow up emails are generated from WellsFargoTitleOrder@wellsfargo.com for all title commitments not received within 5 business days following the order date. Follow up emails will also include other outstanding title-related documentation, such as the closing protection letter, where applicable.
    • Emails are now sent twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All outstanding documents for the same settlement agent location will be batched into a single email. This reduces the number of follow up emails being sent to your company or firm.
    • If the outstanding documents have not been received after 2 follow up attempts, a representative from the Title Order team will contact you by phone. These contacts will repeat every 3 days until the documents are received.
    • Documents should be delivered to WellsFargoTitleOrder@wellsfargo.com.
    • Managed vendors should continue to follow defined processes for delivery of these documents through the Black Knight Exchange.

    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:

    • Title insurance gap coverage effective from the date of consummation (the date the Note is signed) to the date of recording. Gap coverage that does not take effect until the date of recording will not be accepted.
    • There can be no exceptions to coverage in Schedule B pertaining to COVID-19 or the county recorder closing/delay. If the commitment includes an exception requiring the borrower to sign an indemnification agreement, an updated title commitment or other documentation evidencing that this has been satisfied will be required.
    • Wells Fargo will not sign any indemnification agreement required by the title agent or title underwriter as a condition for closing and/or title insurance. These conditions impact legal, compliance, and investor requirements and will not be signed.
    • Please consult with your title underwriter as needed if you are unable to meet these requirements.

    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 wellsfargosettlementagent1099inquiries@wellsfargo.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.

    Regulation

    Subject

    Reference Information

    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

    Fair Lending

    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

    Truth in Lending (Regulation Z)

    Record Retention (Regulation Z)

    12 C.F.R. §1026.25

    Truth in Lending (Regulation Z)

    Rescission

    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

    Unfair, Deceptive (or Abusive) Acts or Practices - Consumer Transactions

    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

    Unfair, Deceptive (or Abusive) Acts or Practices - Consumer Transactions

    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.

    Regards,
    Wells Fargo & Company

     


  • 01/12/2021 5:07 PM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    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!

    1.   Update Your Passwords. Passwords that are too obvious make it easy for hackers to access your personal data, which could result in blackmail or identity theft. 
    • Resist the urge to use the same password on numerous sites. 
    • Consider using a passphrase instead of a password – using letters, Capitalization and special characters.
    2.   Avoid Over Sharing. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Zoom are not always secure forums, so thinking before you post or go live is essential.
    • Enable privacy settings to restrict access to personal information.
    • Pay special attention to what is in the background in posts and videos
    3.   Take Extra Care with Emails and Texts.  Spoofing is one of the easiest ways fraudsters gain access to information.
    • Never click a link or open attachments in unsolicited emails and texts.
    • Verify emails and texts are legitimate by calling sender using verified phone number.
    4.   Avoid Public Wi-Fi.  Public Wi-Fi is a shared service and is not as secure as your home network. Avoid performing sensitive activities while on Public Wi-Fi (e.g., mobile banking).
    • Consider using VPN for remote work.
    • Consider using a separate Wi-Fi network for remote work.
    • Wi-Fi networks should be password protected.
    5.   Incident Response Plan.  Having a plan in place in case of a breach is essential.
    • Create a checklist with steps to take if a breach occurs. Please visit FLTA - Cyber Security and download our Rapid Response plan.
    • Create a “Call Tree” of contacts when a breach or emergency occurs. Test monthly or quarterly.
    • Document and preserve all information from breach.
    6.   Data protection and Systems.  Like a security system; invest in it up front and you will be more secure.
    • Dual control (no one should have complete authority of systems)
    • Two step authentications
    • Keep tokens (and passwords for same) in a safe place.
    • Have a secure backup system.
    • Invest in an IT expert that you can reach out to for reference.
    • Have system in place for retaining secure information.
    • Lock computers when not in use.

    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.**

  • 12/19/2020 11:14 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    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. 

    Report Summary

    • 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.

    Report PDF Link


  • 12/11/2020 10:41 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    Dear fellow members,

    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:

    • To enact remote online notarization legislation that became effective on January 1st of this year and then created the necessary education course to make it a reality for Florida Notaries? 
    • With the Office of Insurance Regulation to streamline the data call?
    • With the Department of Financial Services to clarify rules regarding third party charges and unlawful inducements?
    • To educate so many on the dangers of cyber criminals and wire fraud?

    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!

    Len Prescott

    2020-2021 FLTA President

  • 10/06/2020 9:13 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    A weak password is still one of the most common ways a hacker will break in. They are typically easy to crack and/or often reused. Thanks to password-hacking software readily available online, hackers can try millions of possible password combinations in just seconds.

    When it comes to passwords, one thing is certain: Size matters! Try using a Passphrase instead of a Password. Follkow these steps to create your own secure Passphrase. 

    Step 1 – Add words to create a phrase

    Let’s say you love FLTA. Add some words around it so that it makes sense to you in a meaningful way: Iloveflta

    That’s a good start, but it could do with being longer. Be more specific: Ilovefltawelivesecurity

    Step 2 – Add capitals for emphasis

    Your passphrase as it currently stands is a lot stronger than the original password. However, it needs more detail. Add capitals, as if you’re emphasizing each word (in your head): ILoveFLTAWeLiveSecurity

    Step 3 – Add punctuation for creative flair

    Consider this step as a decorative element, as if you’re now considering your passphrase visually. To make it easier, add punctuation at the beginning and at the end: ILoveFLTAWeLiveSecurity!

    Step 4 – Add spaces to add further complexity

    A lot of people are unaware of the fact that you can add spaces to your passphrase. This makes it much more complex: I Love FLTA WeLiveSecurity!

    Step 5 – Add block capitals to go one step further

    Your passphrase is in good shape. However, a ‘final topping’ will add another layer of security – block capitals: I LOVE FLTA WeLiveSecurity!

  • 08/20/2020 11:00 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    CFO Patronis' directive delaying enforcement of the 2020 data call is set to expire this month allowing enforcement to begin September 1, 2020.

    The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) is conducting its annual Title Agencies Data Call pursuant to Sections 624.307 and 627.782, F.S.and Sec. 69O-186.013, F.A.C.

    Title Insurance Agencies licensed at any time during Calendar Year 2019 are required filers. There are no exceptions - even if your agency closed during 2019.

    Read more and Important Steps.


  • 08/19/2020 11:11 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    FLTA Members - FLTA has another great opportunity for you and your families!!  Here's a chance for you, your child or certain other family members to be awarded a scholarship to any accredited United States institution of higher learning!

    Apply now for this wonderful opportunity!  Simply fill out and submit the completed 2020 Scholarship Application, and then join your friends as we cheer for the award recipients at FLTA's Annual Convention this November.  

    The deadline to apply is September 18, 2020.  If you have any questions, email Jena Daly

    FLTA membership - good for you and good for Florida families!

    About the Scholarship Awards:

    The Sam D. Mansfield Memorial Scholarship Award was created in 1985 by the Board of Directors of the Florida Land Title Association, Inc., in memory of its namesake.  Mr. Mansfield was a Past-President of this Association and was involved in many civic endeavors, always stressing the importance of education.  The Marjorie S. Schwartz Memorial Scholarship was added in 2001 to commemorate our good friend Marge who, like Sam Mansfield, was an FLTA President and ardent supporter of our Association.  The John Starr Thornton, Jr. Scholarship was added in 2003 to commemorate an outstanding FLTA member and title industry giant.  

    Scholarships Sponsored by:

    Old Republic National Title Insurance Company

    John Starr Thornton, Jr. Memorial Scholarship

    Property Debt Research

    (2) Individual Scholarships

    Annual Convention Silent Auction Managed by PRG Staffing

    The amount of each scholarship award is $1,000.00 and will be awarded at the FLTA Annual Convention in November.  Scholarships may be made payable to the recipient and/or directly to the institution to be applied towards the recipient’s tuition.

    The scholarship committee, which consists of members of the Past President’s Council, will review the submissions and make their selection based on major field of study, grade point average, and other information provided by the applicant.

    Application Deadline - September 18, 2020


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