Share Your #GoodDeeds

GooddeedsCommunity is not based on our ability to physically see and touch each other, but rather the connection and care we show for each other—especially in times of need. ALTA would like to hear how you are continuing to serve your customers and communities during this uncertain and unprecedented time. We know how involved you are in your local market even when there’s not a pandemic, so we know you are actively involved in helping those that might need it most. We would like to highlight all the great volunteerism that is happening across our industry and the creative ways you’ve modified processes to get deals closed. 

Here are three ways you can share your story with us:

  1. Email your story at
  2. Post your story in the comments section on our blog.
  3. Share your story on Facebook or Instagram, use #GoodDeeds and tag ALTA.


Good Deeds: ‘Casual for a Cause’

Dominion Title & Exchange Services in Green Bay, Wis., recently launched a “casual for a cause” campaign to raise money for local charities. Employees can donate $5 to wear jeans one day of the week.

The company also started a campaign called #DominionCares where a portion of each closing fee will be donated toward one of three local organizations. Buyers can select the Golden House, Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) – Green Bay Campus or NEW Community Shelter. The Golden House provides help to domestic abuse victims. The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) focuses on building a community where people value animals and treat them with respect and kindness. The NEW Community Shelter works with others in the community to address homelessness.

NYSLTA Donates to Feeding America

Members of the New York State Land Title Association (NYSLTA) recently contributed nearly $18,000 to four Feeding America foodbanks located across New York. This money will provide over 53,000 meals to those in need. In September 2013, the NYSLTA formed a Charitable Works Committee with the purpose of giving members to join together in participating in charitable causes.

Share Your Good Deeds

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‘Together’ in Good Deeds

In Bellevue, Neb., Tom Low and his wife volunteer at Bellevue Together, an organization that work closely with community leaders, school teacher and counselors to help those in need. 

The group has storerooms full of clothes, furniture, school supplies and other miscellaneous items. Lowe and his wife help pick up and deliver donated items donated items such as beds, bedding and furniture.

ShoesLow said many of the people who receive help are recommended by school counselors and teaches as they get to know the children and know their needs.  

“Each July, the organization invites children in need to come and get five sets of clothes, a pair of shoes, a backpack of school items and toiletries,” said Low, a commercial underwriter for Omaha, Neb.-based TitleCore National. “ We have many volunteers to help them through this process. This year, 308 children will come through our facility in July to pick out new outfits. Money and clothing items are donated by the local community. Volunteers help every week to sort cloths and other donated items, labeling them with the correct size so they can be more readily made available.”

In 2021, Bellevue Together also donated gift cards to teachers.

“This has been a hard year for them and we wanted to show them our appreciation for their hard work and making sure our kids get what they need for success in life,” Low said.

Share Your Good Deeds

Email your company's good deeds to


Fannie Mae Issues Guidance Regarding Remote Ink-signed Notarizations

Fannie Mae updated its Selling Guide announcing specific requirements for remote ink-signed notarizations (RIN) for loans issued on or after July 1.

Fannie Mae had issued temporary RIN guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the increase in audio-visual aided notarizations, both for remote online and RIN, Fannie Mae wanted to establish broad notarization requirements, including the following:

  • Notarization must be in accordance with and in compliance with laws and regulations of the state.
  • When not required by law (but required by our policies), notarization must be recognized as valid by the law of the state where the property is located or where the notary is registered and acting under notarial authority of that jurisdiction.
  • Notarizations are acceptable when conducted outside of the U.S. if it complies with the laws of the jurisdiction in which it is performed or contains an apostille certification.

The RIN standards address documentation or authentication (including minimum audio-visual requirements), system requirements and recording capability.

Minimum Standards for Audio-visual Methods Fannie Mae_RIN

Additional requirements:

  • The lender must maintain, or cause to be retained, the recording of the portions of the notarial ceremony conducted via the audio-video technology for the greater of 10 years, or the minimum period required by applicable law, in accordance with the requirements above.
  • The mortgage loan may not be a Texas Section 50(a)(6) loan.
  • If the loan document is required to be recorded, then the county recorder in the state and county where the property is located must accept the document for recording.
  • If the document is a security instrument or an amendment to a security instrument, the audio-visual aided remote ink-signed notarization must comply with the title requirements in B7-2-04, Special Title Insurance Coverage Considerations (09/02/2020) and the title insurance company may not take any exception for the audio-visual aided remote ink-signed notarization.

ALTA supports passage of the bipartisan SECURE Notarization Act of 2021 (S. 1625), which would allow notaries in all states to perform RON transactions and create national standards requiring use of tamper-evident technology, multifactor authentication of a signer and retention of an audio-visual recording of the notarial act.

Resources for he SECURE Notarization Act



Title Industry Asks Congress to Support Nationwide Use of RON

The California delegation meets with Shelby Luce, a staffer for U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal.

A record attendance of nearly 400 title professionals during the 2021 ALTA Advocacy Summit held more than 250 virtual meetings May 18-20 asking members of Congress to support nationwide use of remote online notarization (RON). On May 13, Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) reintroduced the SECURE Notarization Act of 2021 (S. 1625).

“Remote online notarization is a transformative technology that offers consumers a convenient way to safely and securely complete important documents. While the COVID-19 pandemic presented a number of obstacles to essential tasks such as executing wills, completing financial documents, buying or selling a home, or purchasing or selling a car online, many states demonstrated how to effectively deploy this type of technology to meet the needs of Americans,” Sen. Warner said. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, which would permit nationwide use of remote online notarization, while requiring minimum safety and security standards, and provide certainty for interstate recognition of transactions completed with remote online notarization.”

The Virginia delegation meets with Norman Ellis III of U.S. Sen. Tim Kain’s office.

The bipartisan bill would allow notaries in all states to perform RON transactions. Like the bill from the previous Congress, the SECURE Notarization Act of 2021 creates national standards requiring use of tamper-evident technology, multifactor authentication of a signer and retention of an audio-visual recording of the notarial act.

The bill would allow signers outside the U.S., such as military personnel and their families, to easily and securely notarize documents.

“The pandemic exposed several flaws and outdated methods used in the American economy, and the notary process is a prime example,” Sen. Cramer said. “Our bill would bring this process into the 21st century, allowing people to securely complete notarized documents remotely, just as they do with many other important forms.”

There have already been 34 states that have enacted laws enabling the use of RON. The federal legislation would complement existing state laws, while allowing states the flexibility and freedom to implement their own RON standards.

The Minnesota delegation meets
with Rep. Dean Phillips.

Additionally, the federal legislation follows a similar structure of complementary state/federal legislation, such as the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).

In addition to ALTA, the bill is endorsed by a wide array of organizations including the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI).

Thanks to ALTA’s advocacy, the bill’s minimum standards for RON are consistent with those provided in the ALTA-MBA model state RON bill and the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO) RON Standards.

The use of RON increased 547 percent in 2020, according to a survey ALTA conducted of vendors that offer this technology. This increase can be attributed to heightened demand for RON during the pandemic, in addition to the fact that 34 states have passed permanent laws authorizing its use.

The Missouri delegation meets with Rep. Jason Smith and staffer Kathryn Chakmak.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, businesses have been forced to rapidly adapt to a new normal, and the real estate industry is no exception. One of the title industry’s most important tools in this process has been remote online notarization,” said Diane Tomb, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “We applaud the leadership of Sens. Warner and Cramer for recognizing the clear benefits of extending RON access to all Americans and introducing this bipartisan legislation, which offers a safe and secure alternative to execute real estate and mortgage transactions. By passing the SECURE Notarization Act, we can take a much-needed step into the future by modernizing the notarization process with a secure system that has proven to meet consumer needs and expectations.”



Outpouring of Gratitude from Those Helped by ALTA Good Deeds Foundation

Good Deeds logoAs president of TitleSouth LLC in Alabama, Amye von Seebach knows 2020 proved to be a very successful year from a business standpoint for the title industry. However, the COVID-19 pandemic affected the homeless much differently.

Vonseebach“We were fortunate to be in an industry that did not suffer economically during the last year. I know the homeless population has had an extremely hard year,” she said.

Von Seebach became overjoyed when she learned that Be a Blessing Birmingham would receive a $5,000 grant from the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation.

“This is wonderful news. The Foundation chose an excellent and worthy cause to support,” said von Seebach, who nominated the organization for a grant. “I appreciate all ALTA does to help our communities.”

TitleSouth’s parent company, RealtySouth, provided a 50% match, so Be a Blessing, which provides support to the homeless in the greater Birmingham area, received a total of $9,000

“There is virtually no overhead with this organization,” von Seebach said. “Every dollar will be spent to benefit people who are in desperate need. I am thrilled they were chosen.”

Be a Blessing was one of 21 organizations that received grants totaling $125,000 that the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation awarded in March. The Foundation provides charitable grants to 501(c)(3) organizations supported by ALTA members. Grants are awarded to local organizations through a competitive application process completed by an ALTA member, highlighting how the member is furthering Our Values through charitable efforts.

“I am incredibly proud of the efforts of our ALTA members who work to support these charities as well as those who donated so much to the Foundation,” said ALTA CEO Diane Tomb, Foundation Board member. “Title insurance professionals work daily to protect homebuyers and every community across the country, so it’s no surprise to see them lifting others in times of need. Good deeds are woven into the fabric of who they are. I am excited to see the growth of the Foundation in 2021.”

MischeUpon learning her organization would receive one of the $6,000 grants, Erich Mische, executive director of Spare Key in St. Paul, Minn., immediately thanked Barbara Rodriguez, president of Network Title Inc.

Rodriguez nominated Spare Key, which assists families in crisis with critically ill or seriously injured family members.

“I always love receiving emails like this!” Mische said in response to Spare Key receiving a grant. “Barb’s leadership in your industry, as well as her philanthropic support, is outstanding. We are so pleased to work with her and her team at Network Title. Please share with those with the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation our gratitude, as well.”

StricklandTammy Strickland wasn’t surprised that so many organizations that received a grant embraced homeownership and ending homelessness. The Foundation grant reached a little closer to home, however, as one of her cousins, Traci Strickland, serves as executive director of Kanawha Valley Collective in Charleston, W.Va. The network is dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness.

“I wanted to express my gratitude to you for choosing Kanawha Valley Collective as one of the 2021 Good Deeds grant recipients,” said Strickland, who is vice president of digital Transformation for Fidelity National Financial. “Kanawha Valley Collective’s team works tirelessly to help individuals move from homeless to housed. The grant money will continue their mission and buy a few toasters.”

Paula B 1The donation to Burlington Recreation Center in Burlington, N.C., nearly moved Paula Bachmaier to tears. The money will help support recreational and educational activities and opportunities for the youth in her community.

“I could seriously cry,” said Bachmaier, senior vice president of North Dakota Guaranty & Title Co. “You have no idea. Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.”

For Caring Cupboard in Pasadena, Md., the grant will help the group serve its community and feed those in need.

“We recently partnered with the Red Cross to join their Disaster Response Team,” said Chuck Yocum, president of Caring Cupboard. “This grant will allow us to fully prepare to provide that assistance.”

Tess Brady Heribacka, a member account advisor for Attorneys Title Fund Services in Florida, thanked the Foundation for supporting Operation America Standing In Support Heribacka (OASIS) and the military. OASIS provides moral support to those in the military with themed packages and card-writing campaigns.

“There are no words to express the jubilation and appreciation as a recipient of the ALTA Good Deeds Foundation grant.  Thank you for your support to our military and OASIS,” she said. “We cannot continue our mission of sending care packages to our troops serving on the global war on terror or provide ROTC scholarships without the support from organizations such as yours.  There are no words. It is both an honor and privilege to be selected as a grant recipient. Please know we are humbled and proud to be chosen for this commemorative award.”  

Brad Steele, executive director of The Literacy Center, also was grateful for the grant, saying the group appreciated support of their students with the life-changing investment in their program.

“We promise to steward this gift well and to use those monies to help our students make a difference in their families, workplaces and the community,” Steele said.

StoutGlen Stout, state agency manager for North American Title Insurance Co., said it was “outstanding news” when he learned Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland received a grant.

“Ronald McDonald House does such amazing work by providing a home-away-from-home for sick children and their families,” Stout said. “The $6,000 grant will go a long way to funding this charity and supporting RMH’s mission to enhance the healthcare experiences through comfort and supportive services. I am so grateful to be a part of this industry and the American Land Title Association.”


U.S. Interior Department Takes Steps to Restore Native American Land

The U.S. Department of Interior on April 27 issued an order that eases the ability of Native American tribes to take land back into trust.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued Order 3400 re-delegating the authority to review and approve applications to place land into trust to the Bureau of Indian Affairs regional directors. The order reverses steps taken in 2017 that elevated land-into-trust decisions to the department’s headquarters staff, which caused delays. The order does not apply to gaming applications.

Taking land into trust is one of the functions the Interior Department undertakes on behalf of tribes.

“At Interior, we have an obligation to work with Tribes to protect their lands and ensure that each tribe has a homeland where its citizens can live together and lead safe and fulfilling lives,” Haaland said. “Our actions will help us meet that obligation and will help empower tribes to determine how their lands are used—from conservation to economic development projects.”

Federal policies dating back more than a century have eroded the land base of Native American tribes across the United States. By placing lands into trust status through the Department of the Interior, tribes can reacquire lands within or near their reservations, establish a land base for tribal communities and clarify jurisdiction over their lands. Tribes have faced delays and increasing costs in efforts to develop housing projects, manage law enforcement agencies and develop local economies because of unnecessary hurdles in the land-into-trust process.

“The patchwork of landholdings within existing reservation boundaries can make it difficult to develop coherent law enforcement and regulatory policies on reservations, restricting the ability to sustain community and economic development,” said Bryan Newland, principal deputy assistant secretary for Indian Affairs. “These important actions are a step in the right direction to restore homelands that will strengthen Tribal communities.”

In addition to the order, the Solicitor’s Office withdrew three previous opinions that impeded the department’s ability to take land into trust for tribes and that were issued without adequate tribal consultation.

  • The Solicitor issued M-37070 and withdrew M-37054 and M-37055, which created a burdensome process for tribes seeking to place land into trust under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934. In its place, the office reinstated a previous opinion (M-37029) that has been upheld by multiple federal courts and outlines a reasonable process for Tribal applications for land into trust.
  • The Solicitor issued M-37069 and withdrew M-37064, which erroneously concluded that, despite the existence of a formal rule allowing such acquisitions, the Secretary of the Interior does not have discretionary authority to take land into trust for tribes in Alaska. This action will eliminate uncertainty over the secretary’s continuing authority under the IRA to take land in Alaska into trust for the benefit of Alaska tribes.

Insuring Native American Land Webinar Series

ALTA's Native American Lands Workgroup is producing a four-part webinar series titled "Insuring Native American Land: Special Issues and Consideration." Below are the recordings from parts one, two and three of the series.

Part I

This presentation discusses special issues and considerations when searching and insuring property involving Native American land. This presentation focuses on vesting and ownership of land, the Indian Non-Intercourse Act and Section 17 Corporations.

Experts participating in this webinar include:

  • Cindy Guanell ITP, NTP | Regional Underwriting Director/Pacific Northwest Region | First American Title Insurance Co. 
  • Sean Holland | Vice President & Underwriting Counsel | Fidelity National Title Group
  • Paul Cozzi | Senior Underwriting Counsel | Fidelity National Title Group
  • Branden Allen | Underwriting Counsel | Old Republic National Title Insurance Co.

Moderating the discussion is Cindy Guanell of First American Title Insurance Co. 

Download Materials

Part II

This part of the series explores the statutory and regulatory authority and processes for leasing restricted Native American lands, including 25 U.S.C. § 415, 29 CFR Part 169, and the HEARTH Act, which created a voluntary, alternative land leasing process available to tribes who enact leasing regulations, that permits tribal leasing without having to obtain further approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. You will learn key items to consider when handling transactions involving leases on Native American land.

Experts participating in this webinar include:

  • Orlando Lucero | Vice President/New Mexico State Underwriting Counsel | FNF Family of Companies
  • Sam Shiel | Vice President/National Underwriting Counsel| Old Republic National Title Insurance Co.
  • Cindy Guanell ITP, NTP | Regional Underwriting Director/Pacific Northwest Region | First American Title Insurance Co. 
  • Rolf Lindberg | Senior Underwriting Counsel | Stewart Title Guaranty Co.

Download Materials

Part III

This presentation discusses authority, recording and access when handling transactions involving Native American land.

Experts participating in this webinar include:

  • Chad Hansen | Regulatory and Compliance Counsel | First National Title Insurance Co.
  • Dawn Lewallen | Senior Division Underwriting Counsel | First American Title Insurance Co.
  • Orlando Lucero | Vice President and New Mexico State Underwriting Counsel | Fidelity National Title Insurance Co.

Moderating the discussion is Megan Powell, vice chair of ALTA's Native American Lands Workgroup and an underwriter for First American Title Insurance Co.

Download Materials


Join ALTA's New Online Community

Communities are more important than ever in all aspects of our lives. That's one of the reasons why ALTA launched a new online community called ALTA Connection to provide a venue for ALTA members to share information, and build and expand their networks.

ALTA hopes participants will share what's happening in their communities. Let's celebrate victories and troubleshoot challenges.

Some of the online communities that have already been created include:

  • Technology
  • Commercial Network
  • Consumer Marketing
  • ALTA Registry
  • Large Agents
  • Small Agents and Abtracters
  • Nex Gen
  • Title Counsel
  • Women in Title

You can join conversations in communities like these. There are also resources available in the library and participants can also contribute their own content. 

Join ALTA Connection here. Have questions? Check out this how-to information.


Survey: Title Professionals Targeted for Wire Fraud in a Third of all Transactions

ALTA-2021-Wire-Fraud-and-Cyber-Crime-SurveyTitle insurance professionals reported cyber criminals attempted to trick employees to wire funds to a fraudulent account in a third of all real estate and mortgage transactions, according to ALTA’s 2021 Wire Fraud and Cyber Crime Survey. However, training and education seem to be working as funds were only wired to a fraudulent account in a little over 8% of these attempts.

Nationwide, 76% of title agents reported wire fraud attempts were the same or increased in 2020. Fraud attempts and losses were up nationwide due to the pandemic, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The survey of nearly 550 title agents nationwide was conducted in March 2021 by ALTA’s Research & Analytics Work Group. It asked agents about their experience with cybercrime and wire fraud.

“The title and settlement industry continues to lead the charge raising awareness about wire transfer fraud, educating their staff and implementing procedures to safeguard real estate funds,” said Diane Tomb, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “Unfortunately, criminals continue to modify their tactics and prey on unsuspecting consumers. Working with our partners involved in the real estate transaction, along with government officials, our members continue to educate people about how they can protect their money when purchasing a home or refinancing a mortgage, so they continue to trust and have confidence in our digital world.”

A full recovery of lost funds was only possible in 29% of cases. In 40% of the cases, less than 10% of the funds were recovered. Of companies that recovered funds, 58% started the process by contacting their bank. This highlights the need to quickly work with the financial institution involved in the wire and to report all criminal activity to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center.

Funds wired by an employee to a fraudulent account were only recovered less than a quarter of the time. This highlights the need to quickly work with the financial institution involved in the wire and to report all criminal activity to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center.

On a broader scale, the FBI reported that through its Recovery Asset Team, the IC3 worked with its partners to successfully freeze approximately $380 million of the $462 million in reported losses due to all types of wire fraud in 2020.

“IC3 has continued to strengthen its relationships with industry and others in the law enforcement community to reduce financial losses resulting from BEC scams,” the FBI said.

While the availability of cyber insurance with phishing coverage has grown in the past few years, only 20% of companies that suffered losses were made completely or partially whole by insurance.

Of those who took the survey, 81 percent work at companies with 10 or less employees. Creating and hiring staff solely focused on cyber security can be difficult for smaller organizations.


ALTA has created several resources to help these organizations:

More resources can be found here.

Also, ALTA’s Marketplace can help companies navigate many cyber-related vendors and services.


April Is National Fair Housing Month



This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, landmark legislation signed into law April 11, 1968, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and family status. The act furthers the beliefs advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the other heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

To help raise awareness, Realogy Holdings produced an online course titled “Delivering the Promise of Fair Housing.” The training offers insight across a slate of topics such as the human side of the home, history and reform, building on past progress, and how agents and brokers can contribute by doing their part. Upon completion of the training, participants are encouraged to sign the “I pledge to: Stand Up for Fair Housing.”

Supporting the course are The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, National Association of Minority Mortgage Professionals (NAMMBA), Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) and the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).

ALTA believes all homeowners have access to affordable housing opportunities and mortgage financing without discrimination and supports efforts that promote fair housing laws.

To help promote fair housing, you can download this poster provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Click here for additional fair housing educational resources.

To learn how you can maximize diversity and inclusion efforts in your company, register for ALTA’s webinar “How to Embed a Culture of Inclusion and Diversity,” which will be held April 14 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET.


CFPB Reports 54% Spike in Consumer Complaints in 2020

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported a 54 percent increase in consumer complaints last year when compared to 2019.

According to the CFPB’s 2020 Consumer Response Annual Report, the bureau handled approximately 542,300 complaints in 2020 versus about 352,400 complaints handled in 2019.

“The pandemic has been among the most disruptive long-term events we will see in our lifetimes,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio. “Not surprisingly, the shockwaves it sent across the planet were felt deeply in the consumer financial marketplace. Consumer complaints provide the CFPB with an important real-time window into where consumers encounter problems in the marketplace. The CFPB expects companies to respond to these concerns and that consumers receive responses from companies that address the issues consumers raise in their complaints.”

The report reflects issues consumers reported to the CFPB in 2020 as influenced by numerous factors including changing market conditions. The report includes analyses of complaints across multiple consumer financial products and services.

According to the CFPB report:

  • Credit and consumer reporting complaints accounted for more than 58% of complaints received, followed by debt collection (15%), credit card (7%), checking or savings (6%), and mortgage complaints (5%).
  • Beginning in April 2020, consumers began to submit more than 3,000 complaints mentioning coronavirus keywords nearly every month. Consumers submitted approximately 32,100 complaints mentioning coronavirus or related keywords in 2020. Absence of coronavirus as a keyword in a complaint does not necessarily mean the complaint was not related to the financial impact of the pandemic.
  • Consumers from Florida submitted more complaints per capita than consumers from any other state (309 complaints submitted per 100,000 in population).
  • The CFPB received 40,800 complaints from self-identified servicemembers, veterans and military families.

Specific to mortgages, the CFPB received roughly 29,400 complaints in 2020. The bureau sent about 25,100 (or 85%) of these complaints to companies for review and response, referred 9% to other regulatory agencies, and found 5% to be incomplete. According to the report, companies responded to approximately 98% of mortgage complaints sent to them for review and response. Companies closed 88% of complaints with an explanation, 3% with non-monetary relief and 4% with monetary relief.

CFPB complaints

Consumers identified the issue that best described the problem they experienced. For mortgage complaints, options included: applying for a mortgage or refinancing an existing mortgage; closing on a mortgage; problem with a credit or consumer report; struggling to pay mortgage; and, trouble during payment process. The most common issue was trouble during payment process (47%). Issues regarding mortgage closings accounted for 10%of the complaints.