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  • 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


  • 07/16/2020 2:56 PM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    From CFO Patronis: Insurance Insights June 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.

    The Office's reporting system called the Insurance Regulation Filing System. Here is the link: https://irfs.fldfs.com/

    A How To guide is also available at: https://floir.com/siteDocuments/TitleFilingInstructions.pdf

    • Using your IRFS account username and password, log into the new system. If you have not used IRFS before, create a new account.
    • New users must subscribe its agency(ies) using the Entity Management on the User Menu. Select the Licensee/Agencies tab.
    • Select Add Licensee/ Agency.
    • Type in the Agency Name and click Search.
    • Select your agency next to its name and click the Add Selected button at the bottom of the screen.
    • Select Create Filing on the top right corner.
    • In the Data Collection tile, click Begin.
    • STEP 1: Select the agency for which you are creating the filing from the Licensees/Agencies tab. Click Next.
    • STEP 2: Select the Title Insurance Data Calls for Agencies. Click Next.
    • STEP 3: Skip step Three, which is for group filings (not permitted with this data call).
    • STEP 4: Review the information. Click Create. You will be redirected to the Workbench.
    • View and edit the filing on the Workbench by clicking the Filing ID in the first column.
    • Expand components by clicking on the plus sign.
    • The data template, which has been available within IRFS since January 1, 2020, must be downloaded from within IRFS, completed locally on your computer, and then uploaded back in the same Web page in Excel format. Either Excel 2003 (.xls) or Excel 2007 (.xlsx) will be accepted.

    The full template contains seven tabs:

    1. Version - includes the Office's contact information and reporting date reminder
    2. Instructions - data template must be downloaded from IRFS for the purpose of reporting information
    3. Report_Lines - Two columns extend down a series of questions and required responses (enter either text or numeric in the two columns, as shown)
    4. Schedule A - Additional agency information
    5. Schedule B - Agent activities
    6. Schedule C (Residential) - Title agent statistical information submission for 1-4 residential units
    7. Schedule C (Commercial) - Title agent statistical information submission for commercial units.
    8. Agency_Comments - Check the questions on this tab. If any appear with "Comments Required" it means your responses on previous tabs suggest that clarification is required for the item(s) noted. Clarifications must be understandable and justifiable when reviewed by the Office. You may contact the Office if you have questions.
    • In the Company Contacts Component, other email accounts subscribed to your agency will be listed under Add Company Contact. Include additional email addresses that are not subscribers of the agency in the text box. Any email listed in this component will receive email notifications about the filing. Click Save.
    • Select the Title Insurance Agency Filing Certification. The certification must be completed by an agency officer (electronic signature accepted). Type the year 2017 at the top, the officer's name in the middle and the officer's title at the bottom. Press the down arrow to save the certification.
    • You can include a cover letter. This an optional component for the filing.
    • Include any additional and optional information that is deemed important to the overall submission. These optional items may be uploaded as PDF documents under the "Other Documents" component.
    • There is an optional Response to Request for Clarification component that may be ignored during the initial filing. This is for use only if the Office has questions after reviewing your filing.
    • When all mandatory components are Complete, your filing may be submitted by clicking on the Submit button.
    • You and any accounts listed in Company Contacts will receive an email receipt with your Filing ID. If you do not receive an email and the submission status does not change to Received, contact the Office's Market Research and Technology Unit at: TitleAgencyReporting@floir.com.

    Further instructions are available on our website at: https://www.floir.com/Office/Reporting.aspx#Title

    If you have questions regarding this filing process, please email the Office at: TitleAgencyDataCall@floir.com or contact the Market Data Collections Unit at 850-413-3147. If phone lines are busy you are encouraged to send your questions by email. Your email may request that a representative from Market Data Collections call you (remember to provide your number). Calls will be returned in the order your email messages are received.

    Send email to: TitleAgencyReporting@floir.com.

    * CFO Patronis signed a directive delaying enforcement of the 2020 data call until September 1, 2020.*


  • 05/16/2020 8:21 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    On Friday, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, issued Directive 2020-10 delaying the Department of Financial Services enforcement of the submission of the 2020 Title Data Call until September 1, 2020. With many agencies and industry representatives focusing on the health and safety of their employees, consumers and families, this brings relief to the annual submission pressure.

    With the added time to submit, Agencies should use this time to review the revised Agency Data Callspreadsheets and adjust any internal processes accordingly. As you will recall, FLTA has worked diligently with the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) through numerous workshops the past couple years in order to make your compliance with the Data Call easier and to improve the data being collected by the Data Call.  Quality information on the financial requirements of title insurance agents is critical to the state’s ability to set fair rates.  Thanks to the collaborative effort of FLTA members and OIR, you will find that the Report Lines have been simplified and better clarified. In a big win, “Schedule C’ was also eliminated along with the “Agency Comments” section. Filling out Schedule C was very challenging; often brought frustration and confusion to the industry; and the information contained in Schedule C was either unnecessary or duplicative of other areas in the Data Call submission.  We are very grateful to OIR that Schedule C has been removed and believe this will allow the industry submissions to be more efficient and consistent.  

    We are often asked, “will the data call ever end?” The answer in short, is “no, but for good reason.”  F.S. 627.782(7) calls for the Financial Services Commission to review premium rates “no less frequently than once every 3 years, and shall, based upon the review required by this subsection, revise the premium if the results of the review so warrant.”  In order to perform the Commission’s review, F.S. 627.782(8) states “Each title insurance agency and insurer licensed to do business in this state and each insurer’s direct or retail business in this state shall maintain and submit information, including revenue, loss, and expense data, as the office determines necessary to assist in the analysis of title insurance premium rates, title search costs, and the condition of the title insurance industry in this state. Such information shall be transmitted to the office annually by May 31 of the year after the reporting year. The commission shall adopt rules relating to the collection and analysis of the data from the title insurance industry.”

    The Agency Data Call is vitally important to the state’s determination of a fair promulgated rate for title insurance.  As agents earn up to 70% of the premium, the agent’s activities and financial picture must be understood by regulators in order to determine a promulgated rate for title insurance premiums that is fair to consumers and allows title agencies to earn a rate of return on their capital.  It defends the portion of insurance revenue earned by the agency or underwriter.  In this way, Florida’s promulgated rate protects the public by setting a fair rate and assuring the availability of title agents (both attorneys and title agencies) serving all areas of the state and providing competition on settlement service charges. Your attention and diligence in complying with the Agency Data Call will reward both title insurance agents and the public.

  • 04/06/2020 1:22 PM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    The Florida Land Title Association has launched it's first on-demand self study course for Continued Education credit, Getting Ready for RON, with Brenda Cannon at Alliant National Title Insurance Company. In December 2019, FLTA began online education with providing Florida's 2-hour certification course to become a state approved Remote Online Notary. 

    Getting Ready for RON is a 1-hour CE course that was originally presented live in December. Students who are looking for CE credit and wanting information on RON, but not interested in becoming an online notary will find this course informational in nature.


    Now, with offering on-demand self study courses registered students will be able to take previously recorded live webinars as an on-demand option and receive credit from the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and/or The Florida Bar. There is a fee for the CE/CLE courses, but FLTA members will receive member-only pricing by logging into their FLTA account and visiting www.flta.org/webinars to access this information. For a variety of reasons coupons will not be available for all course offerings and will be noted as such.

    Once a CE course is completed, students will be required to submit an "Attendance Affidavit" to FLTA before credit may be issued to DFS. The affidavit is including in the final section of the course. Florida attorneys will continue to self-report to the Florida Bar when approved for CLE.

    Overtime it is the goal of the FLTA Education Committee to build the library of on-demand options to include relevant offerings including topics like the requirement for an ethics course.

    Visit the FLTA School for information.

  • 03/31/2020 11:29 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    Repost: Link to Blog Post

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac modified their single-family seller guides including temporary requirements for remote online notarizations (RON) and powers of attorney.

    Remote Online Notarization

    The new RON requirements for both the government sponsored entities go into effect immediately. The requirements between Fannie and Freddie have slight differences, but both require the system used for the remote notarization must meet the following minimum standards:

    • at least two-factor identity authentication, including using a government-issued photo ID that has a signature, credential analysis and identity-proofing
    • tamper-sealed notarized documents and system security sufficient to (A) prevent interference with the authenticity, integrity and security of the notarial ceremony or corruption or loss of the recording of the same, and (B) protect the communication technology, electronic record and backup record from unauthorized use
    • the remote online notary must keep a secure electronic journal of the notarial act including evidence of identity of the principal (a video and audio conference can be the basis for satisfactory evidence of identification) and maintain a backup of the electronic record
    • recording of the notarial ceremony with storage for the minimum period required by applicable laws or if no period is specified in the applicable law, for seven years

    Fannie Mae includes a list of states where lenders may sell loans closed with RON:

    Fannie_RON_states

    Powers of Attorney

    Due to COVID-19, the temporary requirements allow the use of POA to execute loan and closing documents for loans with applications dates on or before May 17, 2020.

    Fannie Mae’s POA requirements include:

    • All powers of attorney must include the address of the mortgaged property.
    • The existing Selling Guide conditions allowing persons “connected to the transaction” to serve as an attorney-in-fact or agent in refinance transactions will also now apply to purchase transactions as well as limited cash-out refinances. This includes all the related current requirements applicable to limited cash-out refinance transactions involving these persons in the Selling Guide (that is, excluding lender employees, limiting by loan amount and property location, requiring a recorded Internet session after the borrower has received proposed loan documents, and mandating retention of the recording).
    • Unless a recorded Internet session described in the paragraph above is required, a power of attorney may only be used in a purchase transaction with a note date on or after April 7, 2020, if, after the Closing Disclosure or other closing statement, as applicable, has been delivered to the borrower before closing, an employee of the lender or settlement agent explains the terms of the loan to the borrower(s) to confirm that each borrower understands them. This discussion must take place in person, telephonically, or using a video conference system, and must be memorialized by an acknowledgment by the borrowers of his or her understanding of the terms of the loan. The acknowledgment may be in writing or in a recording of the telephonic or video discussion.
    • Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Selling Guide or this Lender Letter, for purchase transactions the attorney-in-fact or agent may not be the property seller, any relative of the property seller, or any direct or indirect employee or agent of the property seller, unless in any such instance such person is also a relative of the borrower.
    • Whenever an attorney-in-fact or agent is an employee of the insuring title insurer or is an employee of the policy-issuing agent of the insuring title insurer, such title insurer must have issued a closing protection letter (or similar contractual protection) for the transaction for such policy issuing agent.
    • Whenever a power of attorney is used at closing, whether authorized under the Selling Guide or under the standards in this Lender Letter, the provisions of B1-1-01, Application Package Documentation requiring the borrower’s personal signature of the initial Form 1003 continue to apply if the initial Form 1003 can be signed personally (including through the United States Postal Service or commercial delivery service), or signed electronically as permitted by the Selling Guide. If the initial Form 1003 cannot be timely signed by the borrower in these ways, then it must be signed by the holder of such power of attorney.
    • Provided the power of attorney is not required to be notarized under applicable law (for example, the law governing the creation of the power of attorney, or the law of the location of the mortgaged property), the power of attorney is not required to be notarized if the transaction is a limited cash-out refinance unless
      • the attorney-in-fact or agent named in the power of attorney is employed by, or otherwise represents or is affiliated with, the title insurance company that will issue the lender’s title insurance policy, and
      • such title insurance company is affiliated with the lender.
    • If a power of attorney is required to be notarized, it may be remotely notarized in accordance with A2-5.1-03, Electronic Records, Signatures, and Transactions (as revised by this Lender Letter) with the additional flexibility that it may be remotely notarized in all jurisdictions, even if not expressly permitted by the Guide, as long as the power of attorney is not required to be recorded. If the power of attorney is required to be recorded, it may be remotely notarized only in the jurisdictions permitted by A2-5.1-03 (as revised by the table below).
    • The limitations in B8-5-05 requiring at least one borrower signature of the note and security instrument are suspended.
    • Under the Guide to Delivering eMortgages to Fannie Mae, powers of attorney are not permitted to be used in connection with loans with electronic notes (eNotes). Fannie Mae is revising the eMortgage Guide effective April 20, 2020 to permit eNotes to be delivered in transactions in which a printed or electronic power of attorney is used on the same conditions as those applying to paper notes, except that the power of attorney must accompany the eNote through MERS® eDelivery. In anticipation of the change in the eMortgage Guide, lenders that are authorized to deliver eNotes may begin permitting the use of powers of attorney consistent with B8-5-05 and this Lender Letter immediately, provided that the eNote and related power of attorney may not be delivered to Fannie Mae through MERS eDelivery or submitted to Loan Delivery until after April 20, 2020.

    According to Freddie Mac, sellers may allow use of a POA to close a mortgage or e-mortgage, except for cash-out refinance mortgages and Texas Equity Section 50(a)(6) mortgages, in accordance with the temporary flexibilities listed in the following chart:

    Freddie_POA_requirements


  • 03/25/2020 10:44 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    In a time of uncertainty it is important for the industry to focus on their families, employees and businesses. On Monday, March 23rd, FLTA submitted a letter to Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier requesting for this years Title Data Call be delayed to September 30, 2020.


    Each year the Data Call is due on May 31st for the prior year's data. Due to the improvements made and necessary approval process at the State's office, this year's application was not available until late February when normally available in early January. Now, amid the pandemic of COVID-19, we ask for consideration in delaying this year's submission deadline.


    We continue to thank our state and local leaders for their leadership and guidance during this unprecedented time.

    March 23, 2020

    Dear CFO Patronis:

    We would like to thank you for your leadership and diligent attention to the issues affecting Florida during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    As the pandemic continues, the economic ramifications are becoming clear and it is more important than ever for citizens to focus on their families and businesses.

    Each year, Florida licensed Title Agencies and Title Insurance Underwriters under Florida Administrative Rule 69O-186.013 and 69O-186.014 are required to submit Data Call reports by May 31st. With the recent approved improvements to the Agents Data Call, the submission form was delayed for public use until late-February when normally available at the first of January. This has caused its own delay and rush to meet the required deadline.

    With the recent State of Emergency and Executive Orders issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the local stay-in-place orders called by local municipalities and the need for small business owners to focus on their families, employees and businesses, we respectfully request consideration to delay the due date from May 31st to September 30, 2020, for the 2019 submission of the Florida Title Data Call for both Title Agents and Title Insurance Underwriters. To issue an initial delay of 30-days knowing there is a strong probability for additional time delays to be added will only add to the stress of the industry.

    In these difficult times, we know the economic ramifications of this pandemic will be substantial but believe this step will help to support the individuals and entities involved in the process as a whole.

    We thank you in advance for your consideration and attention to this matter and will be available for any questions you may have.

    Sincerely,

    Nancy Baumann                                   Scott Merritt

    FLTA President                                    Executive Director

    cc: David Altmaier, Insurance Commissioner



  • 03/24/2020 11:09 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    In a joint letter to Florida Governor DeSantis, the Florida Land Title Association, Florida Realtors®, and the Florida Home Builders Association call for real estate transactions and title recording services to be "essential businesses" when considering closures or stay-in-place orders. Additionally, the organizations focus on the ability to continue recordation with County Recorders and Comptrollers.

    March 20, 2020

    Dear Governor DeSantis:

    On behalf of the undersigned groups we would like to thank you for your leadership and diligent attention to the issues affecting Florida during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    As the pandemic continues, the economic ramifications are becoming clear.  Our organizations are concerned that interruptions to certain essential government services could have severe negative economic ramifications for citizens at a time when they are already under stress. As you know, the real estate industry is central to the overall health of the economy.

    In particular, we request that you consider real estate transactions and title recording be declared as essential services which should remain active, with steps taken in order to minimize any risk to workers.  These businesses provide services that are legally mandated by contract and they work with the financial industry in processing escrow payments.  In addition, we request that the recording and other work of the County Clerk and Comptrollers Recorders be declared an essential service which should remain open.  Steps to ensure safety could include permitting recording of documents only submitted online or through electronic platforms and by mail or in-person delivery by appointment only with appropriate safeguards, for the duration of the crisis.

    The reasons for this are self-evident.  In the absence of a functioning county recorder, real estate transactions, many of which are already in progress, might not be able to be closed. This would result in additional and significant hardships to the persons involved especially those who are buying or selling a home.  Also, with record low interest rates, there is also likely going to be an opportunity for many Florida homeowners to refinance at the lower rates, which would provide immediate economic relief to homeowners dealing with the challenges of these times. Without a functioning recorder’s office that opportunity could be lost.

    We respectfully request that your office ensure that any emergency orders that are pending at the state or county level declare that  the work of the County Clerk and Comptroller Recorders are an essential service and that they shall remain open and continue to conduct business, of course with safeguards for their employees during the ongoing crisis.

    In these difficult times, we know the economic ramifications of this pandemic will be substantial, but believe this step will help to support the individuals and entities involved in real estate and lending transactions and the economy as a whole.

    Sincerely,

    Florida Realtors®

    Florida Land Title Association       

    Florida Home Builders Association


  • 09/11/2019 8:43 AM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

    Guest Writer David Eisenberg, CIO, First International Title 

    Equifax has settled with the US Federal Trade Commission over its 2017 data breach which affected 147 million Americans. This includes as much as $425 million for individual compensation. You could qualify for some form of compensation as a result of this settlement.

    The Equifax Data Breach Settlement website has a look-up tool where you can find out whether your data was compromised and then file a claim online. If you have been compromised, you can sign up for TEN YEARS of free credit monitoring (4 years of three-bureau plus 6 years of one-bureau) or up to $125 (if you can submit documents proving loss).

    Check your eligibility here: https://eligibility.equifaxbreachsettlement.com

    If you don't do anything, you relinquish your right to sue Equifax in the future and you give up on the $125 or 10 years of free credit monitoring provided by the settlement. Your deadline to opt out is November 19 and your deadline to file a claim based on this settlement is January 22.

    If the Equifax Settlement eligibility look-up tool reveals that you have been a victim of their breach then can you get credit monitoring for free or $125. If you prefer $125 you would need to provide sufficient documentation proving financial loss due to the breach and upload that documentation onto the website. Even if you have proof (IRS documentation, etc.), ten years of credit monitoring is worth much more than $125. In my opinion, the only reason to take the money is if you had significant loss due to identify theft and can prove it was caused by the Equifax breach, and you intend to sue for that loss. Or, if you can provide documentation and you already have credit monitoring elsewhere, then take the cash.

    “Credit monitoring” is often not what you might think it is… it’s not a “lock” or “freeze” but rather a way of getting alerted when changes are made to your credit in one of the three major reporting agencies… which is still a good thing. On the other hand, Locks and Freezes prevent  your credit report from reaching someone who orders it, such as when you decide to get a new car or open a new credit card. It may be burdensome to un-Lock or un-Freeze your account when you need to but often the benefits outweigh the inconvenience, knowing no one can access your credit data without your intervention. Deciding which one is right for you is something you’ll need to think about but, at a minimum, I always suggest signing up for credit monitoring even if it’s a few bucks per year.

    Remember, the law also entitles you to 1 free credit report every 12 months. Whether or not you sign up for anything you should absolutely take advantage of this for yourself, and all your family members, once a year to review the information for accuracy. It’s free, it’s the law, and only ONE website is legitimate: https://www.annualcreditreport.com.

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Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved

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P.O. Box 66145
St. Pete Beach, FL 33736

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