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How Local Title Companies are dealing with the Global Issue of Wire Fraud

The information and expertise found in this blog article was provided and sponsored by our Affiliate Partner, Alabama Land Title.

The email arrives. The subject line reads “Your instructions for closing.” When you open the email, you find details of how to wire the down payment for your new property; the amount and property address are both correct. The only red flag: you didn’t know to expect this in your inbox. And if you follow the instructions, your down payment money will disappear with the scammer who sent the email.


Wire fraud has become a major problem in the real estate industry, specifically affecting title companies – the entities responsible for handling large sums of money during closings. As owner of Baldwin County-local title company Alabama Land Title, Aurelia Bryars is passionate about protecting her clients from this rising threat. “We all thought it could never happen in the small towns of Baldwin County,” said Bryars. “Our company is founded on honesty and excellent customer service, so we are making every attempt to continue providing the same level of service amidst a time of rampant online scams.”


By meshing customer service with customer protection, there are several ways title companies like Alabama Land Title are dealing with the global issue of wire fraud for the sake of their local buyers, sellers, and real estate agents.


ID Verification


Initial verification of identity is the starting point for most title companies looking to create secure processes. “We are very upfront about our requirement of a valid driver’s license or other form of ID with every single person involved in closings in our office. We require a valid license ahead of time on all mailout transactions in hopes to deter any fraudulent interactions,” said Bryars.


Recently, Alabama Land Title has invested in a new piece of technology that takes a driver’s license, scans it, and uses the issue date and expiration date to corroborate accuracy with DMV files. “It was a ‘no brainer’ as far as business investments go,” said Bryars. “Not only does it protect the customers that put their faith in us, but it also adds another layer of security to ward of wrongdoers.”


Educating Customers


The average American stays in a home ten years, according to NAR’s 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, so it’s safe to say most people are lacking knowledge on current closing processes. “We start with a phone call to every buyer and seller to go over the warning signs of wire fraud in real estate dealings,” said Bryars. “Then, we follow that conversation by emailing them a video with real life examples of these types of scams.” Bryars says her team’s motto with customers is ‘call before you wire.’ “We are adamant that they should not wire one penny without first calling our office and speaking with a living breathing person who can verify any given instructions.”


Additionally, Alabama Land Title places emphasis on ensuring local real estate agents are educated on this subject. Through their affiliate membership at Baldwin REALTORS, the local association for REALTORS in Baldwin County and surrounding areas, Alabama Land Title sponsors education courses and regularly shares their knowledge with BR members.


Secure Technology


Alabama Land Title implements all best practices given by the American Land Title Association and adheres to all rules set forth by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They have deployed Next-Gen Firewalls for Layer 7 traffic classification, communication, intrusion detection, and identity-based and device-aware security. Backup of their data is stored using encrypted technology that is the same standard employed by the military and trusted federal banking institutions.


Bryars hopes that the cumulative impact of her office’s efforts and the similar efforts of other local title companies will greatly reduce wire fraud incidents in Baldwin County and southern Alabama. “We are committed to our customers and their dreams of homeownership and private property rights. We will continue to make every effort possible to protect their finances and futures.”

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