Bulletin: SLS2019003

Date:
September 06, 2019
To:
All Issuing Offices
RE:
CLAIMS AVOIDANCE - Wire Fraud Prevention Tips

Dear Associates:

According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers lost over a billion dollars last year to fraud, including wire fraud, an ever-increasing cybercrime. Real estate and title insurance transactions can be targets for wire transfer fraud. These transactions include multiple parties and the use of online tools and resources. Fraudsters can use online real estate shopping tools to seek out transactions getting ready to close, hack into an unsecure email account and use that information to send fraudulent wire transfer details. It is important to be aware of your transaction, and knowledgeable about these types of schemes in order to prevent fraud. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers these tips to help keep consumers protected.

  • At the beginning of your transaction, make sure to obtain a contact name, email and phone numbers for your real estate agent, lender, seller/borrower, buyer, title insurer and closing and settlement agent, if separate. Only use these numbers and email addresses when communicating with the individuals during the transaction.
  • Make sure you use two-factor authentication on your own email account and encourage other individuals included in the transaction to do so as well.
  • Wire instructions will typically come from your title/closing agent before your transaction is set to close. Verify the wire instructions by calling recipients directly or discussing it in person. Email accounts can be compromised, so be sure to verify the information you receive through direct communication. Also, "hover" the cursor over the sender's email address to verify that the actual sender's address is an address used throughout the transaction.
  • Be aware of any email or correspondence that asks you to respond immediately or to rush. Title companies will not ask for a wire transfer in that way. Be suspicious of any communication saying that wire transfer details have been updated.
  • Always confirm receipt of the wire transfer a few hours after the wire was transmitted to ensure it successfully went through to the right parties. If the wire transfer is not confirmed, be sure to verify the bank and account information. This verification should only be completed through the original telephone numbers you obtained early in the transaction.

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For online viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.