01/19/2023

Most ALTA Members Not Covered by CFPB Proposal for Consumer Contracts

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Jan. 11 announced a proposed rule that would create a registry of certain contract terms and conditions. This proposal would require certain nonbanks to annually submit information when their standard contracts impose limitations on consumer rights, including waivers of legal claims, choice of venue clauses, limitations on class actions, arbitration agreements and other legal waivers.

Fortunately, ALTA’s analysis is that this proposal will not likely require title companies to file anything with the CPFB.

Under the proposal, companies that must submit contracts are “supervised registrants,” which are a subset of “supervised nonbanks” as defined in the proposed definitions. It is unlikely that an ALTA member will qualify as a supervised registrant or nonbank as the proposal is drafted.

A starting point for this analysis is the definitions. The definition of a supervised nonbank there are four parts to examine. Critical parts of the definition are highlighted below.

    (g) Supervised nonbank means a nonbank covered person that is subject to supervision and examination by the Bureau pursuant to 12 U.S.C. 5514(a), except to the extent that     such person engages in conduct or functions that are excluded from the supervisory authority of the Bureau pursuant to 12 U.S.C. 5517 or 12 U.S.C. 5519.  Subject to the foregoing     statutory exclusions, this term includes any nonbank covered person that:

    (1) Offers or provides a residential mortgage-related product or service as described in 12 U.S.C. 5514(a)(1)(A); (2) Offers or provides any private educational consumer loan as     described in 12 U.S.C. 5514(a)(1)(D); (3) Offers or provides any consumer payday loan as described in 12 U.S.C. 5514(a)(1)(E); (4) Is a larger participant in any market as     defined by rule in part 1090 pursuant to 12 U.S.C. 5514(a)(1)(B); or (5) Is subject to an order issued by the Bureau pursuant to 12 U.S.C. 5514(a)(1)(C).

Analysis of Definition

The definition of covered person is foundational to any question about whether the CFPB can supervise a business. ALTA’s analysis starts with whether a provider of a service is a covered person under 12 U.S. Code § 5481(6). This definition applies to any person that offers or provides a “consumer financial product or service.” While definitions in the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) can get circular, in essence a consumer financial product or service under paragraph 5 of 5481 is a financial product or service as defined under paragraph 15 of the same section used primarily for consumer purposes.

It’s important to note two things when examining the definition of financial product of service under 12 USC 5481(15). First, 15(a)(iii) explicitly states that real estate settlement services are a financial product. This is where the CFPB gets the general power to oversee ALTA members and partially where the bureau draws its TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) authority. However, it should be noted that this authority under 15(a)(iiI) also says that real estate settlement services are only covered to the extent they are not excluded under subparagraph C of the definitions. Subparagraph C says that the business of insurance (broadly defined in paragraph 3) is not within CFPB’s authority. Thus, a provider is not a covered person under the CFPA when the provision of real estate settlement services falls under the business of insurance. Put another way, since most contracts that title professionals use with customers are part of the insurance transaction, either because they are part of the insurance contract or because the service is overseen by the state department of insurance, they will likely not fall under the ambit of this proposal.

However, since there is some level of ALTA members and services that don’t fall into the business of insurance exception, there could still be some coverage for a portion of the business around settlement and escrow that is not explicitly part of the provision of insurance and supervised by insurance regulators. This would likely apply to entities like escrow companies that have separate escrow rules and regulations beyond the state DOI. In these instances, the other highlighted exclusions come into play.

In the definition above, a covered person only falls under this rule if they are subject to supervision under 5514(a). This section only applies to nonbank mortgage lenders or “larger participants” in other financial products. In general, for the CFPB to supervise a settlement company, it would need to issue a rule before supervising larger participants. ALTA is not aware of the bureau doing so in a manner that covers any title company. In addition, 5517(f) limits the CFPB’s authority to supervise people regulated by a state DOI.

Key Takeaway

While any new effort by the CFPB to push the envelope when it comes to regulation and supervision is concerning, most ALTA members should be excluded from this proposal as they are not covered persons.

01/17/2023

ALTA Welcomes New Members

ALTA is pleased to announce new and associate members, as well as real estate attorneys, who have recently joined ALTA. Over the past month, ALTA gained 106 new members, including 56 title agencies and 37 real estate attorneys. ALTA had a record 6,510 member companies in 2022. Not a member? Click here to join today. You can check out member benefits here.

Membership Map

Membership map 2023

 

01/05/2023

ALTA Decertifies Several 2006 Policy Forms

In line with prior guidance, ALTA decertified certain 2006 series policy forms effective Dec. 31, 2022.  

As always, ALTA decertification establishes that the association no longer officially supports the forms, and will not update them. However, use of these forms by Policy Form Licensees (including title insurers and agents) will likely continue for some period of time. Decertification does not prohibit the continued use of any form. In addition, realizing that these forms will be seen in the market, ALTA will continue to make them available on the ALTA website in a “Decertified Basic Policies (12-31-2022) – 2006 Series” subsection of the policy forms page through at least the end of 2023.

The specific decertified policy forms include: 

  • ALTA Loan Policy – 6/17/2006
  • ALTA Owner’s Policy – 6/17/2006
  • ALTA ECRLP – AP – 4/2/15
  • ALTA ECRLP – CA – 4/2/15
  • ALTA Homeowner’s Policy – 12/2/13
  • ALTA Residential Limited Coverage Junior Loan Policy – 8/1/12
  • ALTA Residential Limited Coverage Mortgage Modification Policy – 12/1/14
  • ALTA Short Form Expanded Coverage Residential Loan Policy - Assessments Priority -04-02-2015
  • ALTA Short Form Expanded Coverage Residential Loan Policy - Current Assessments - 04-02-2015
  • ALTA Short Form Residential Limited Coverage Junior Loan Policy - 04-02-2013
  • ALTA Short Form Residential Loan Policy - 12-03-2012
  • ALTA Short Form Residential Loan Policy - Current Violations - 04-02-2015
  • ALTA Commitment for Title Insurance – 08-02-2016
  • ALTA Short Form Commitment for an ALTA Short Form Residential Loan Policy – 12-01-2017

Specific 2006 Policy Forms that are NOT being decertified at this time include:

  • ALTA Limited Pre-Foreclosure Policy – 12/3/12
  • ALTA Limited Pre-Foreclosure Policy – Date Down Endorsement – 12/3/12
  • ALTA U.S. Policy Form – 12/3/12

At a future date, Endorsements that are specific only to the 2006-series Policy Forms will be decertified, and Endorsements that are applicable to both 2006-series and 2021-series Policy Forms will be migrated to 2021 heading standards so the application to the 2021 forms will be obvious. The dates for these actions have not been established. 

For any questions about which forms apply to which policy form series, please see the attached “Endorsement Chart v 2.0 05-12-2022”, which is posted to the ALTA Policy Forms site and updated as needed.

Technical Corrections

Two technical corrections were issued Dec. 31, 2022, to existing policies, along with notice of one policy’s version control heading correction that does not require a technical correction since no substance of the Endorsement is being revised.

  • Technical Correction to “Expanded Coverage Residential Loan Policy – Current Assessments”: Change the reference in Covered Risk 28.g. to reference the name of ALTA Endorsement 9.10 as follows:

Policy form 1

  • Technical Correction to “Short Form Residential Loan Policy – Current Assessments”: In the Addendum to the Policy, add “ALTA” before the name of the Policy that the Addendum applies to:

Policy form 2

Modification

  • Version Control Header Format Change – “Short Form Residential Loan Policy – Assessments Priority”: Modified the prior 11-18-2021 technical correction versioning date to match the 2021 style from the ALTA Forms Style Guide. This does not represent a technical correction, as no substance is being changed in the policy:

Policy form 3

Policy forms, including technical corrections, are available here.

12/06/2022

How to Download Membership, Policy Forms License Certificates

ALTA members and policy forms licensee holders can now download their licenses online. Once logged in, primary and secondary contacts can download certificates for their branch offices HERE.

Membership Certificates

Membership cert

  1. Click the Download Here button.
  2. On the next page, click Download This Certificate and it will automatically download.
  3. If you would like to download the certificates for your subsidiaries, click View Children. Here, your subsidiaries will be listed and you can choose which certificate you would like to download.

 

Policy Forms License Certificates

Policy forms cert

  1. Scroll down until you see License Requirements for Agents who are Not Members.
  2. Click the Download Here button.
  3. On the next page, click Download This Certificate and it will automatically download.
  4. If you would like to download the certificates for your subsidiaries, click View Children. Here, your subsidiaries will be listed and you may choose which certificate you would like to download.

11/18/2022

ALTA Responds to Inaccurate Article by Boston Publication About Title Insurance

A recent segment and corresponding article from Boston NPR affiliate WBUR claims that the title insurance industry lacks regulatory oversight and is not transparent with consumers. Below is ALTA’s response to the article’s false and misleading allegations:

It's an opaque business with the lightest level of regulation in the nation.... The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau removed the explicit disclosure of title fees when it overhauled mortgage forms in the wake of the financial crisis.

  • The title insurance industry is regulated not only across all 50 states, but also at the federal level, with title and settlement companies required to disclose all fees on both the Loan Estimate, which consumers receive three days after applying for a loan, and the Closing Disclosure, which is provided to homebuyers three days before closing. There are also strict guidelines for the way title and settlement fees are disclosed to consumers and when changed circumstances allow for alterations to the disclosures. The American Land Title Association (ALTA) was proud to work closely with the CFPB to help develop these regulations, which went into effect in 2015.

Title insurers have all this cash to spare because they pay out so few claims. Of the billions of dollars they took in for 2021, they spent less than 3% of that on claims from homeowners, according to the national insurance commissioners association. By comparison, property and casualty insurers spent 73% of their revenue on claims for losses like house fires and vehicle accidents.

  • Title insurance is a fundamentally different product from other insurance products. Unlike other insurance products where most of the upfront cost is marketing, for title insurance the upfront expense is related to conducting a search of public records to underwriting ownership and lien risks. This is why much of the premium goes to pay the title agent or attorneys staff to review title and the purchase of title data from local governments.
  • It is the title insurance company’s willingness to stand behind this work – even if the defect originated in faulty public records – that provides lenders the confidence that they have a first lien mortgage. While it is true that the word “commission” is frequently and misleadingly used to describe the important work of title agents, it makes their good work no less important.

 Ott wound up feeling misled about his lawyer’s total fees and her advice on buying the optional policy.

  • It is critical to understand the difference between a homeowner’s policy of title insurance and a lender’s policy. A lender’s policy only protects against claims that may affect the lender’s loan and does not protect the homeowner’s property rights, which is why title professionals recommend that consumers purchase a homeowner’s policy to protect one of life’s greatest investments.
  • With title insurance, a claim is serious, and a loss means homeownership is threatened. Owner’s title insurance provides protection for as long as the homeowner or their heirs own the property. Having a title insurance policy means that the cost of defense and legal fees are paid by the title insurer for the homeowner.

 In general, consumers are not shopping for this product.

  • Research by the CFPB shows that the TRID regulations, which ALTA helped develop, have helped consumers better understand their closing costs and compare competing offers.
  • ALTA has consistently promoted consumer education to homebuyers, encouraging them to ask their title agent how rates are determined where you live and what services are provided in the fee, as well as to shop around for comparative offerings.

These many years later, across the country, title contracts between insurers and lawyers or agents are either never or rarely reviewed by most state insurance regulators, according to a 2019 survey by the insurance commissioners association.

  • State departments of insurance oversee the industry’s practices and rates to ensure they are not excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory. Insurers must justify their rates (using actuarially supported data) to state regulators. State regulators capture annual revenue and expense data from title insurance agents and underwriters for the purpose of measuring the profitability, competitiveness and reasonableness of title rates and charges.

 A typical residential title search can be done “within a few hours,” Ryan said.

  • Thanks to the investments made by the industry the average title search can be done in a few hours. However even today a title search is still mostly done by a human being. Beyond the search someone will have to review the title documents found in the search, help resolve outstanding issues like getting prior mortgages paid off or making sure there are no outstanding amounts owed to the contractor that put on the houses new deck, prepare the new deed and ultimately facilitate the closing.
  • Forged documents, one of the most common title problems, in addition to falsified documents, invalid deeds and incorrect property descriptions, are just some of the issues that must be examined in the course of a comprehensive title search. Other title risks include recording mistakes, deed indexing errors, unpaid mechanics' liens, judgment liens, income tax or property tax liens, undisclosed easements, claims by missing heirs and claims by ex-spouses. The careful research required to understand and eliminate these risks is performed by a local title agent, online and offline, which is why agents retain a portion of the title insurance premium consumers pay at closing.”

 Critics say title insurance nationally is hugely overpriced.

  • While other forms of insurance have seen rate increases in recent years, the cost of title insurance coverage has actually decreased 6% nationally since 2004 and almost 2% the past two years, according to industry financial statements.
  • Without title insurance, homeowners are not protected from a devastating financial loss – sometimes in the tens of thousands of dollars – that may result from a title defect, tax lien, undisclosed easement, fraud, or forgery. Title insurance is, and will always be, essential, providing homeowners and lenders with peace of mind that they are protected.”

In Iowa, Peter Ott’s title protection would have cost about $625. That’s a fraction of the $4,800 he paid here.

  • The current government-operated system in Iowa is often cited as an alternative to traditional title insurance. However, while the cost for title insurance in Iowa can be lower, although not the lowest, than rates in many other states, comparing title insurance in Iowa and title insurance in other states is comparing apples to oranges. In Iowa, title insurance costs don’t reflect all of the necessary costs consumers have to pay. The total cost that consumers pay for title searches, examinations, and clearing of any title problems in Iowa do not differ substantially from other states. Iowa’s total costs were about the same as those in Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota, Washington and West Virginia, where private title underwriters are free to do business.

11/10/2022

Freddie: Rapidly Rising Rates, Declining Demand Driving Housing Market Slowdown

Freddie Mac housing forecastMortgage interest rates have increased at the fastest rate since the early 1980s. According to Freddie Mac, the U.S. weekly average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 6.94% in the week of Oct. 20. This was up 3.85 percentage points from a year ago according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

In the history of the survey, which stretches back to April 1971, mortgage rates have only increased faster in 1980 and 1981. However, in 1980 and 1981, rates averaged 16% and 18%, respectively. Just one year ago, rates were under 3%. This means that while mortgage rates are not as high as they were in the ’80s, they have more than doubled in the past year. Mortgage rates have never doubled in a year before.

The housing market rapidly decelerated as markets absorbed the impact of higher mortgage rates. Home sales have fallen to a forecasted 5.4 million units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the third quarter of 2022 from 7 million earlier this year. Home purchase mortgage applications point to continued contraction in home sales activity. Freddie Mac forecasts that home sales activity will bottom at around 5 million units at the end of 2023. Falling from 7 million to 5 million would be a decline of about 30% and put the contraction in home sales in line with other historical periods when interest rates increased.

As housing market activity continues to contract, Freddie Mac predicts that it will lead to a continued increase in the months’ supply of homes available for-sale from historically low levels last year. The loosening of the once incredibly tight for-sale inventory removes the intense upward pressure on home prices of the past two years. While fewer sales are increasing the months’ supply, that is partially offset by fewer new listings as high mortgage rates disincentivize existing homeowners from moving up or downsizing.

Given the house price and home sales forecast, Freddie Mac estimated home purchase mortgage originations to be $1.9 trillion in 2022, slowing to $1.6 trillion in 2023. With mortgage rates expected to remain elevated, refinance activity is estimated to slow with refinance originations declining from $2.8 trillion in 2021 to $747 billion in 2022 and $310 billion in 2023. Overall, Freddie Mac forecasts total originations to decline from the high of $4.8 trillion in 2021 to $2.6 trillion in 2022 and $1.9 trillion in 2023.

11/08/2022

Good Deeds: ALTA Member Continues Acts of Kindness

Aaron_davis_chainsawIn 2021, ALTA member Aaron Davis became dubbed the “chainsaw man” for his efforts to come to the aid of those impacted by winter storms that created a power crisis in Harper, Texas, leaving more than 4.5 million homes and businesses without power. (The ALTA Good Deeds Foundation provided a $5,000 emergency grant to Harper Volunteer Fire Department last year).

Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network, took a leave of absence from his company and volunteered in Harper to cut downed tree limbs and clear brush. He helped purchase chainsaws and other items to help the community.

A year later after a chance interaction with an old friend from his hometown, Davis heard about people helping fellow Floridians following the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Davis soon was leading the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief unit, which had boots on the ground in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Davis talked with his brother, Aaron, and the two decided to help with the cleanup and purchased 30 chainsaws.

Stationed at Murdock Baptist Church, the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief unit prepared more than 70,000 meals for those in need within a week of the storm’s impact. Hundreds of volunteers helped provide food, shelter, water and labor — running chainsaws, cleaning up debris, tarping roofs and much more.

“Just seeing all the stories come in and I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, we’re used to hurricanes, this is way worse than a hurricane,’” Aaron told 10 Tampa Bay. “This is a hurricane followed by seven days of freezing. You’re not going to necessarily drown or get hit by a flying object, but you’re going to freeze to death.”

Because of their efforts, the Davis brothers were features in People magazine and were featured on an episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show.

11/03/2022

ALTA Awards Title Webbies

ALTA announced the winners of the 2022 Title Webbies, an awards program recognizing member companies that have created or redesigned the best industry consumer-facing website within the past year.

Nominees were judged on mobile friendliness, user experience, social media integration, image/video use and content quality. The three award winners were CertifID, D.Bello and The Title Team.

Certifd_webby“Congratulations to the winners of the Title Webbie Awards,” said ALTA CEO Diane Tomb. “It is incredibly important that title industry professionals think about how to provide consumers with the data and knowledge they need to be prepared for the real estate transaction. I am proud that these ALTA members have chosen to realign their websites to ensure consumers have what they need to make informed choices.”

CertifID, located in Grand Rapids, Mich., provides wire fraud recovery and prevention services to real estate professionals as well as consumers. A 2022 ALTA Elite Provider, the company was awarded a Title Webbie because its website breaks its services down by roles, helping consumers understand their exposure to real estate wire fraud scams when buying or selling a home or other property and how they can protect themselves from fraudsters. CertifId’s website also includes multiple resources, including webinars, videos and case studies detailing topics such as types of mortgage fraud, how to avoid real estate scams and much more.

“CertifID is focused on protecting customers from wire fraud, which continues to reach new highs annually,” said Tyler Adams, CEO of CertifID. “We knew that education would be key to ongoing prevention and designed our website with that purpose in mind. We offer a range of content and resources for title companies, law firms, Realtors and homebuyers and sellers to be informed about the threats and how to stay secure.”

Dbello_webrryA customizable title production process company, D. Bello also took a Title Webbie back to its homebase in Newport Beach, Calif. The company’s website includes a quick tutorial on the benefits of title insurance, features ALTA videos on real estate wire fraud and the role of title insurance in protecting property rights and provides resources to find a local title agent through ALTA’s consumer-facing website, HomeClosing101.org.

“When we looked at redesigning our website to match our new branding and messaging, we wanted a website that would stand out,” said Andrew Acker, D. Bello’s chief operating officer. “D. Bello prides itself on providing the highest quality, customized title production services for our clients, and we love that our website reflects that. It is the result of a lot of hard work and collaborative effort with our marketing partner, Bowe Digital. This award truly affirms our mission heading into this, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

A title company headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., The Title Team was the sole title agent to be awarded a Title Webbie. The Title Team website is filled with a wealth of information for homebuyers and sellers, including ALTA videos as well as the company’s own curated library of content. Homebuyers and sellers can find all the information they need to know what to expect during the closing process and how to be on the lookout for real estate wire fraud scams.

Titleteam_webby“We are honored to receive the 2022 Title Webbie Award from the American Land Title Association,” said Nick Hacker, president and CEO of The Title Team. “Last year, we began the journey of a companywide rebrand. This not only brought multiple brands together from across the Midwest, it also created the perfect opportunity for us to reshape our website into a user-friendly, clean and optimized site. Our new site not only highlights our core values and our community-focused culture, but it also allows our customers to connect with their local Title Team and learn about our services and other important title industry topics. The redesign of our website was a team effort between The Title Team and Flint Group, a marketing agency in the Midwest. Again, we are so honored to receive this award and share our beautiful new site with the world.”

Solidifi: More Borrowers Reviewing Documents Online Prior to Closing

Closing experience digital
Source: Solidifi

Borrowers are becoming more comfortable reviewing documents digitally prior to closing, according to the Solidifi 2022 Consumer Mortgage Experience Survey.

The survey showed that 59% of borrowers want to review documents digitally prior to closing. This is up from 50% in 2021.

Solidifi polled over 1,000 residential borrowers 18 years of age or older in the United States who have refinanced or purchased a home within the last two years to assess experiences with the closing and appraisal process.

“This year’s survey results reaffirmed that borrowers continue to value in-person interactions for both appraisals and closings,” said Solidifi President Loren Cooke. “People have a better experience when they interact with the appraiser and closing agent. While digital is increasingly becoming part of the closing experience, the process itself is becoming more—not less—personal.”

According to the survey, borrowers continue to want in-person closings for better communication and increased trust. In fact, 81% said that face-to-face is the ideal way to close versus 19% that prefer remote online notarization.

It should be noted however, that of the 81% who prefer in-person interaction, 60% want a paper process, 25% prefer a hybrid process of both paper and electronic documents and 15% prefer in-person with fully electronic documents.

“Consumers want more closing options and flexibility, and as an industry we still have work to do to educate consumers on the options available to them,” Cooke said. “But regardless of how the closing is conducted, the experience has to be flawless.”

The survey also showed trust in e-signatures continues to increase, rising from 74% in 2019 to 89% in 2022.

Good communication is associated with higher satisfaction with the title company, and poor communication is the top reason for dissatisfaction, the survey showed. Having a closing agent who communicates well and is prepared has become even more important. Survey results showed that 75% of borrowers want a closing agent who clearly communicates the process and what borrowers need to do at each step. This is up from 59% in 2021.

Closing experience title

Ransomware Incidents Skyrocket in 2021, FinCEN Reports

Fincen ransomware
Total Amount from Ransomware-Related BSA Filings and Incidents, 2011 to 2021

Ransomware continues to pose a significant threat to U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, businesses and the public, according to a report released by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The report provides analysis of ransomware-related Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) filings for 2021, but focused on trends during the second half of the year. It addresses the extent to which a substantial number of ransomware attacks appear to be connected to actors in Russia.

According to the analysis, FinCEN received 1,489 ransomware-related filings worth nearly $1.2 billion in 2021. This represents a 188% increase compared to the total of $416 million in 2020. FinCEN said this potentially reflects an increase in ransomware incidents or improved reporting and detection.

FinCEN Acting Director Himamauli Das said the analysis is a reminder that ransomware—including attacks perpetrated by Russian-linked actors— remain a serious threat to national and economic security. He said this highlights the importance of BSA filings, which allow FinCEN to uncover trends and patterns in support of whole-of-government efforts to prevent and combat ransomware attacks.

“Financial institutions play a critical role in helping to protect the United States from ransomware-related threats simply by fulfilling their BSA compliance obligations,” Das added.

Specific to the title industry, a recent ALTA survey showed that cyber attacks targeting title and settlement companies remained the same or increased over the past year.

What is Ransomware?

  • Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files and holds the data hostage until a ransom is paid, most often in Bitcoin. In the last two years, FinCEN reported that ransomware actors have shifted from a high-volume opportunistic approach to a more selective methodology in choosing victims, targeting larger enterprises, and demanding bigger payouts to maximize their return on investment.
  • Some ransomware actors have diversified their revenue streams using a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) business model in which ransomware creators sell user-friendly ransomware kits on the dark web or outsource ransomware distribution to affiliates in exchange for a percentage of the ransom. Additionally, since at least late 2019, ransomware groups have adopted new extortion tactics to maximize revenue and create an additional incentive for victims to pay. In one such tactic, known as “double extortion,” ransomware operators exfiltrate massive amounts of a victim’s data encrypting it and then threaten to publish the stolen data if ransom demands are not met.

Detection and Mitigation Recommendations

  • Incorporate indicators of compromise (IOCs) from threat data sources into intrusion detection systems and security alert systems to enable active blocking or reporting of suspected malicious activity.
  • Contact law enforcement immediately regarding any identified activity related to ransomware, and contact OFAC if there is any reason to suspect the cyber actor demanding ransomware payment may be sanctioned or otherwise have a sanctions nexus.
  • Promptly report suspicious activity to FinCEN, highlighting the presence of “Cyber Event Indicators.” IOCs, such as suspicious email addresses, file names, hashes, domains, and IP addresses, can be provided in the SAR form. Information regarding ransomware variants, requested methods of payment, or other information may also be useful to law enforcement and for trend analysis in addition to virtual currency addresses and transaction hashes associated with ransomware payments.
  • Review financial red flag indicators of ransomware in the “Advisory on Ransomware and the Use of the Financial System to Facilitate Ransom Payments” issued by FinCEN in November 2021.

Report Suspicious Cyber Activity

  • To report a ransomware incident, contact CISA at report@cisa.gov, 888282-0870 or www.cisa.gov/stopransomware
  • Contact your local FBI or U.S. Secret Service field office or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov.
  • Contact OFAC at ofac_feedback@treasury.gov if there is any reason to suspect the cyber actor demanding ransomware payment may be sanctioned or otherwise have a sanctions nexus.

Develop a Cybersecurity Risk Management Plan

  • Title and settlement companies report that the volume of cyber attacks have either increased or remained the same last year when compared to 2020. Because of this, you and your staff need the skills and tools to respond to an ever-changing cyber landscape. Register an upcoming free ALTA Insights webinar, sponsored by the FNF Family of Companies, to learn what considerations you may want to put into place for your company’s cyber safety and risk management in 2023. Register for Webinar