03/23/2021

What’s Your Superpower?

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What would happen if you let go of fear, got off the sidelines, and jumped boldly into the game of life? Lisa Sun, founder and CEO of GRAVITAS, unpacked the vital question in a moving, motivating and empowering talk during an ALTA SPRINGBOARD Ideas Festival.

Sun explored why it’s vital to push past your potential, how to transform an idea into a movement and why you’ve got to bet on yourself every single day. She encouraged the virtual attendees to harness their “superpower” and use gravitas to advance personally and professionally.

After spending 11 years at McKinsey & Company, Sun took some time off, travelled around the world and spent time with her parents in Taiwan.

“The last two weeks of time off, my mom goes, ‘Home is nice, but you can’t live here,” Sun said. “My mom encouraged me to bet on myself and start a business.”

The origin of Sun’s company started with her first professional review while at McKinsey & Company. Sun was told she “comes across as young and overly enthusiastic at times,” that she “lacked gravitas” and “should go buy a new dress, big jewelry and great shoes.” With those words in mind, an understanding of the transformative power of clothing, and a determination to create a game-changing company, Sun filed for a global patent to build shapewear directly into dresses. She launched GRAVITAS as a “confidence company” that offers innovative apparel and styling solutions designed to makeover women from the inside-out.

“Remind yourself every day that you’re capable,” she said. “When I founded GRAVITAS out of my one-bedroom, I believed I could provide confidence to others.”

For Sun, fashion is about letting go and embracing strength. She shared a story about a woman working at GRAVITAS’ call center who was going through a divorce. Her son was graduating from high school and she needed a dress. Sun ended up going to D.C. to help the employee find a dress.

“The dressing room is an analogy for our life,” Sun said. “Every woman sets themselves up to fail even before getting a dressing room. We are focused on the negatives. We need to focus on what we want to accomplish and focus on what we like.”

To help make the connection, Sun asked SPRINGBOARD attendees to think about their superpower—not what they’re good at, but best at.

“Why do we care about superpowers?” Sun asked. “Because when hard times hit, that’s what you draw upon. Superpowers are the bedrock as we pivot and move forward with purpose.

“Document your superpowers and your team’s superpowers. That will give you insight in why you succeeded the past year or highlight where you struggled.”

Creating Business Rock Stars

Bonin

From Oreos to Gatorade, Bonin Bough is the master marketer behind the rapid growth of some of the world’s most-loved brands in kitchens across the country. During an Ideas Festival at the 2021 ALTA SPRINGBOARD, the award-winning marketing executive provided tips to help companies create their own breakthrough “communications experience.”

The former chief media officer of Mondelez International, Bough also is an author and host of CNBC’s “Cleveland Hustles.” He is an inductee of the Advertising Hall of Achievement and can be found on lists such as Fortune’s “40 under 40,” Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business and Ebony’s Power 10.

Bough discussed how this generation is the most distracted society in history. Because of this, text marketing has emerged as a popular and effective digital marketing trend. Most consumers prefer texting with businesses, and text messages are 35 times more likely to be read than emails.

Even churches have caught on, as Bough shared a sign that read, “Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him.”

One vital investment companies should focus on is talent. Bough said people are more important for growth versus data and technology.

“Talent is the single largest determinant for growth of any organization. But what has happened, is that every time there has been a change—technology or consumer—there’s training to learn about the technologies.”

Companies are always trying to find the next rock star and want an immediate solution to a problem. Unfortunately, companies often don’t look internally.

“The silver bullets are the people working at your organization today,” according to Bonin.

He said companies need to build a culture where people believe they are rock stars. This starts by developing organizational learning—the process of creating, retaining and transferring knowledge within a company. This can drive the cultural impact a company wants, according to Bough.

“Showcase talent and give them the credit they deserve for successes, he added.

Bough shared a story of how Oreo had become irrelevant because advertising remained the same for decades. While there were many moving parts, he said a Facebook campaign suggested by a novice marketer provide to be a game-changer for the cookie company.

“Allow people the space and culture to know that failure is part of the journey,” Bough said. “Encourage them to be their own entrepreneurs. Small change can have a significant impact on a large organization.”

03/16/2021

Get Your Amazing Alpha by Being Playful

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The word “Disney” conjures images of talking mice, fairytale castles and, best of all, magic. But we all know Disney magic isn’t invoked through spells or enchantments, it is forged through innovation.

As the former vice president of innovation and creativity at The Walt Disney Co., creativity speaker Duncan Wardle knows a thing or two about fostering an environment of innovation. Innovation is not something that happens by chance. It is the result of building an environment in which it can thrive.

However, cultivating creativity and innovation is even more difficult when your staff is working remotely or behind closed doors because of a worldwide pandemic. Speaking at the 2021 ALTA SPRINGBOARD during a session sponsored by SoftPro, Wardle shared steps and strategies to encourage an innovative culture that unlocks employees’ ability to let their ingenuity run wild.

Wardle said leaders should create safe spaces for staff to take creative risks and empower their team to transition ideas into action.

Mindfulness

Wardle said minds are busy during normal days. People don’t typically develop creative ideas while working, rather it’s exercising or waking up. He compared this to when you’re in an argument with someone. It’s not until after the argument, you think of a perfect one-liner response. “You gave yourself time to think,” Wardle said. “But how do you get there on demand?”

Mindfulness opens the door and allows people to get to the “amazing alpha” state and “you get there by being playful.”

“When you don’t have time to think, the door to your unconscious brain is closed,” Wardle said. “Then you only have access to 13 percent of your brain.”

Devoting time to thing gets people out of their “rivers of thinking” that keep people stuck in their current processes. Leaving the “river of thinking” can mean challenging the common rules. That’s how people like Netflix’s Reed Hastings turned the Blockbuster model on its head, Wardle said.

Disney’s What If

Companies and their employees are constrained by their own expertise and experience. Their thinking is also restricted by the organization’s established rules. All too often, we hear “That’s the way we do it here!”

An innovation tool that Wardle likes is called “what if.” Wardle encouraged attendees to list all the rules of the industry and ask “What if this rule no longer applied?”

Wardle shared a story about a British company that makes glass drinking glasses. The company noticed a deal of its inventory was breaking during packaging. To address the problem, the company listed the packaging steps, but then took a “what if” approach. An employee suggested they hire blind people to handle packaging. The change drastically improved packaging and government ended up giving them a payroll subsidy for hiring the blind.

At Disney, Wardle and his team were asked to develop a game changer idea for Walt Disney World. One of the rules they addressed was “I have to stand in line.” This is one of the biggest pain points and led to the question “What if there were no lines?” So, they created the Disney Magic Band, which guests can reserve their favorite attractions, shows, and character meet and greets in advance of their visit. The Magic Band acts as a room key, eliminating the need to stand in line to check in. Swipe the band at the entrance to the parks or reserved park experiences and avoid the lines there too. Touch an item of merchandise and it’s paid for and delivered to a guest’s hotel room. Order food on a smartphone and have it delivered to the guest’s table on arrival at the restaurant.

“The average guest now has plenty of free time to spend with their family,” Wardle said. “And what do people do with their free time? They spend money.”

Employable Skill Set

Wardle concluded by encouraging attendees to remain curious and to get fresh motivation.

“Many of you order the same type of food and sleep on the same side of the bed,” Wardle said. “Take time for fresh stimulus in your lives.”

He said to think about the advancements and opportunities made possible with artificial intelligence. While many fear it, Wardle said to embrace it. How will we compete with robots? Through creativity, intuition, curiosity and imagination, he said.

“The four traits you were born with — creativity, imagination, curiosity and intuition — will not be programmed into artificial intelligence any time in the next decade,” Wardle said. “These are the four most employable skill sets. The biggest barrier is we don’t have time to think. There is no present like the time. Give yourselves time to think.”

03/11/2021

A Year of Virtual Meetings and Hugs: What Do You Miss From Pre-pandemic Life?

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David Townsend and Lisa Steele speak at the 2020 ALTA SPRINGBOARD. Want to attend this year's virtual SPRINGNOARD event (March 16-18)? Click here for info.

Can you believe it? It was one year ago today that the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Two days later, the United States declared a national emergency and the country started shutting down.

While stay-at-home orders affected millions of workers, the title and settlement services industry pressed on as “essential businesses” and helped facilitate closings for a record-breaking $4.3 trillion in mortgages during 2020.

But what do you miss most from your pre-pandemic life? According to responses on ALTA’s social media channels, the overwhelming majority miss travel, friends and hugs.

David Townsend, president of Agents National Title Insurance Co. and a member of ALTA’s Board of Governors, echoed many comments about missing in-person events such as ALTA ONE, ALTA SPRINGBOARD and ALTA Advocacy Summit.

Linda Aparo, director of sales and marketing at reQuire, misses her “peeps.”

“I can't wait to run across a room and jump into someone's arms. Beware—it could be you!”

PropLogix tweeted they miss having their team in the same physical location, but added they enjoy seeing teammates in their natural surroundings with children, pets and laundry in the background.

“Blur all you want. We see it,” the company joked.

Like many others, Joe Powell, vice president and managing underwriting counsel for Fidelity National Title Insurance Co., said he misses the “the warm embrace of friends.”

“I mostly miss the physical presence of people without concern for our health,” he added. “This is a relationship business and relationships are ‘in real life.’ But I don't begrudge the inconveniences of the last year. If we're not alive and healthy, it's kind of hard to do business anyway.”

Share what you've missed over the past year in the comments.

03/10/2021

Getting Online Reviews While Your Business is Hot, Will Help You When the Market is Not

By Eliot Dill

If you have been in business for any amount of time, you have probably noticed that most markets tend to be cyclical and require some evolution to survive.

A company that was once king often must adapt to stay relevant.

For instance, Sears used to be the poster child of retail, then came along Walmart, and now we have Amazon.

Where did Sears go? (I loved their catalog when I was a kid.)

The Power of Online Reviews

What you may not know is that online reviews are quickly becoming one of the most effective ways to market your business.

It boils down to which company builds trust fastest, and online reviews on platforms like Facebook and Google do just that.

In fact, online reviews are so powerful that 79% of consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation.

When you are busy, it is very easy to not focus on getting feedback or reviews from your clients or customers – after all, you are too busy.

However, I hope by the end of this post you see that this may be a shortsighted purview.

Here are the 3 main reasons why you should focus some time and attention on online reviews while your business is thriving. If you wait, you’ll be too late.

1. Online reviews are often the first thing someone sees about your business

As a service provider, Google and other search engines prioritize your online profiles such as Google My Business or your Facebook page higher than your website in the search results.

That’s right. Your online profiles often rank higher than even your website!

It makes sense if you think about it.

Say you Googled “Italian restaurant” hoping to find dinner. Google would show you the top Italian restaurants on a map near wherever you are located on a map.

The same is true for other profiles such as Facebook.

The real kicker is that these listings often show your star ratings and the number of reviews right in the search results without clicking.

Worse yet, it will show “No Reviews” if you don’t have any.

Who do you think gets more clicks in looking at the results below?

Highest-Ranking

The one with the highest rating, not necessarily the most reviews, obviously!

In fact, “a study by CXL found that star ratings in search engine results significantly improve click-through rates, by as much as 35%.”

In marketing, percentage improvements are usually in the single to low double digits. A 35% increase from having a few more reviews than your competitors is tremendous and is well worth looking into.

2) Online reviews are often THE deciding factor

Another reason you may want to consider focusing on your online reviews is that oftentimes online reviews are the deciding factor on whether to call service provider A or service provider B.

In addition to stumbling on your online reviews first, a potential customer might visit your website to determine that you can likely solve their problem.

In fact, they often do this with 2 to 3 different providers to compare services, prices, and experience.

Before they call a provider, they often reference those reviews again just to make sure others have had positive experiences with you.

Extra weight in your favor is given if one of your reviews is similar to the person reading the review or to their problem.

The point is, you can have two very similar service providers.

The one who gets the most calls will likely be the one with the most reviews, since it is often the last thing a prospective customer looks at before they pick up the phone.

3) With low volume, the businesses with the most positive reviews will win

This leads us to our final point. At some point, your business might slow or at least evolve.

When this happens, there may be a limited amount of business to get. In real estate, maybe interest rates are high so many people aren’t buying houses. In law, maybe there are a limited number of cases in your market for a specific practice area.

In either case, when markets are limited, marketing and advertising budgets are often cut. As such, the only marketing you have is your online reviews.

The limited number of people who need your services will often find you by way of your online reviews, then will look at your reviews to give them confidence in the delivery of your services.

In short, he or she who has the best and most reviews wins in a down market.

If Coronavirus has taught us anything it is that anything is possible and nothing is guaranteed indefinitely.

So yes, you need more reviews.

It is the first thing that someone sees about you.

It is the last thing they reference before they call.

And it is the only marketing you’ll have if and when your market slows.

This is why it is critical to get more online reviews while your business is hot, so it can help you when your market is not.

Eliot Dill is chief operating officer and co-founder of TitleTap, which provides automated marketing and website solutions for the title and settlement services industry. This article was originally posted on Feedback Automatic.

03/02/2021

Share Tips, Best Practices About Wire Fraud During National Consumer Protection Week

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Title and settlement professionals can join the Federal Trade Commission and more than 100 groups and organizations participating in the 23rd annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), which lasts through March 6.

NCPW is a coordinated campaign designed to focus on the importance of keeping consumers informed while providing them with free resources explaining their rights in the marketplace.

This year, the FTC and its partners will participate in a series of events including webinars, Facebook Live events, and Twitter chats throughout the week. These virtual events will cover a range of topics, including avoiding coronavirus scams, government imposters and cyber fraud.

ALTA encourages members to join the discussion by alerting consumers about the danger of wire transfer fraud when buying a home or refinancing. Click here to access tools and resources ALTA has developed to educate consumers about wire fraud

Share on Social

You can use This messages-- or create your own-- and share on social media:

  • [ORGANIZATION] is promoting consumer education during National Consumer Protection Week. Check out this AARP podcast to learn how to protect your money when buying a home or refinancing! https://bit.ly/3821Gmx #closingscams #wirefraud #NCPW2021

What's Coming Up

Thursday, March 4

1 p.m. ET:

Participate in the FTC's “Slam the Scam” Twitter chat in Spanish with @laFTC, @USAGovEspanol(link is external), and @SeguroSocial(link is external) on avoiding COVID-19 and imposter scams. Use the hashtag #OjoConLasEstafas(link is external) and #NCPW2021(link is external) to follow the conversation.

Topics will include avoiding online scams, including phishing, tech support scams and COVID-19 scams.

1 p.m. ET: Join the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and AARP’s
Fraud Watch Network for a webinar on Cyber Scams & Older Adults (link is external).
3 p.m. ET: Participate in our “Slam the Scam” Twitter chat in English with @FTC (link is external)@USAGov (link is external)@SocialSecurity (link is external). Use the hashtag #SlamTheScamChat (link is external) and #NCPW2021 (link is external) to follow the conversation.
7 p.m. ET Join the FTC for a Facebook Live (link is external) with colleagues from the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General on how to spot and avoid Social Security scams. Please join the FTC and ask questions.

 

 

 

02/11/2021

Multifamily Housing Down in 2021 but Will Rebound in 2022

Regulatory and supply-side challenges coupled with slowing rent growth and rising vacancy rates will weaken the multifamily construction market in 2021. However, the development market should stabilize by 2022, according to economists from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

"Though the multifamily sector is performing much better than nonresidential construction, developers are facing stiff headwinds in 2021," said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. "Shortages and delays in obtaining building materials, rising lumber and OSB prices, labor shortages and a more ominous regulatory climate will aggravate affordability woes and delay delivery times."

NAHB analysis of Census data reveals that 34 percent of total multifamily construction occurred in lower density, lower cost markets in 2020. "These areas have outpaced higher density markets over the past four quarters and we anticipate this trend will continue this year," said Dietz.

Turning to the forecast, multifamily starts are expected to fall 11 percent this year to 349,000 units from a projected total of 392,000 in 2020. The downturn will be short-lived, as multifamily production is expected to post modest gains in 2022, up 5 percent to 365,000 units.

After four years of a steady, upward trajectory, rent growth flattened in 2020. "Due in part to pandemic-related issues, rent growth in December 2020 was up just 0.4 percent from a year ago," said Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, NAHB's assistant vice president of forecasting and analysis.

Looking at another metric, four of the top five multifamily markets, as measured by the number of permits, posted yearly declines from November 2019 to November 2020.

The New York-Newark-Jersey City region, the largest in the nation, registered a 14 percent drop in permits. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland, Texas, was down 10 percent, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., fell 16 percent and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, posted the sharpest decline at 46 percent.  Meanwhile, Austin-Round Rock, Texas, the No. 2 market in the nation, posted a robust 54 percent increase in permits.

Commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE forecasted a return to pre-COVID vacancy levels and a 6 percent increase in net effective rents in 2021, with a full market recovery occurring in early 2022. The economic rebound will lead to rising multifamily demand, largely from “unbundling”—certain renters moving out of their parents’ homes or those of friends as job opportunities provide more financial flexibility to live independently. Demand levels in 2021 likely will fall short of pre-COVID peaks in 2018 and 2019 but should rise significantly from 2020.

MULTIFAMILY INVESTMENT

Mutifamily graph

*2020 forecast is based on actual numbers through September. Source: CBRE Research, Real Capital Analytics (historical), Q4 2020.

According to CBRE, development will remain robust this year. Most of 2021’s scheduled deliveries were started before COVID-19 and likely will reach 280,000 units on top of the estimated 300,000-unit total this year. This level of new supply will temper improvement in Class A vacancies and rents in many markets.

With steadily improving market conditions, multifamily investment volume is expected to increase in 2021. CBRE predicted U.S. multifamily investment volume will reach about $148 billion next year, lower than 2019’s record level of $191 billion but a 33% gain over the 2020 estimate of $111 billion.

CBRE reported that suburban assets in the Midwest and Southeast regions will provide the best opportunities for solid market performance and achieving expected revenues next year. In the Midwest, Indianapolis was the best-performing market in 2020. Memphis, Detroit, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Louisville and St. Louis also were among the best in the country.

Meanwhile, most Southeast metros weathered the 2020 recession relatively well, according to CBRE. The leaders were Greensboro, Jacksonville, Richmond and Virginia Beach. Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh and Tampa also performed relatively well and are positioned for solid performance in 2021.

Multifamily segments that had greater market deterioration in 2020—such as Class A assets in urban submarkets, particularly in gateway cities—may not stabilize until well into 2021 and present more investment risk, CBRE predicted.

CBRE said the most impacted metros in 2020 were San Francisco, San Jose and New York. Other underperformers included Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Oakland, Austin, Miami, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Orlando. Among these, investors may favor high-tech markets for their potential quicker economic recovery, but tech firms’ remote working policies may not restore multifamily demand as quickly.

02/10/2021

What Is Business Email Compromise?

BEC

Business email compromise (BEC) is one of the most financially damaging online crimes. It exploits the fact that so many on email to conduct business. The FBI reported losses due to BEC totaled $1.7 billion in 2019. Data for 2020 is expected to be released in March.

In a BEC scam, criminals send an email message that appears to come from a known source making a legitimate request, like in these examples:

  • A vendor your company regularly deals with sends an invoice with an updated mailing address.
  • A company CEO asks her assistant to purchase dozens of gift cards to send out as employee rewards. She asks for the serial numbers so she can email them out right away.
  • A homebuyer receives a message from his title company with instructions on how to wire his down payment.

Versions of these scenarios happened to real victims. All the messages were fake. And in each case, thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of dollars were sent to criminals instead.

To carry out a BEC, scammers might:

  • Spoof an email account or website. Slight variations on legitimate addresses (john.kelly@examplecompany.com vs. john.kelley@examplecompany.com) fool victims into thinking fake accounts are authentic.
  • Send spearphishing emails. These messages look like they’re from a trusted sender to trick victims into revealing confidential information. That information lets criminals access company accounts, calendars, and data that gives them the details they need to carry out the BEC schemes.
  • Use malware. Malicious software can infiltrate company networks and gain access to legitimate email threads about billing and invoices. That information is used to time requests or send messages so accountants or financial officers don’t question payment requests. Malware also lets criminals gain undetected access to a victim’s data, including passwords and financial account information.

Tips to Protect Yourself

  • Be careful with what information you share online or on social media. By openly sharing things like pet names, schools you attended, links to family members, and your birthday, you can give a scammer all the information they need to guess your password or answer your security questions.
  • Don’t click on anything in an unsolicited email or text message asking you to update or verify account information. Look up the company’s phone number on your own (don’t use the one a potential scammer is providing), and call the company to ask if the request is legitimate.
  • Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in any correspondence. Scammers use slight differences to trick your eye and gain your trust.
  • Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
  • Set up multi-factor authentication on any account that allows it, and never disable it.
  • Verify payment and purchase requests in person if possible or by calling the person to make sure it is legitimate. You should verify any change in account number or payment procedures with the person making the request.
  • Be especially wary if the requestor is pressing you to act quickly.

How to Report 

If you or your company fall victim to a BEC scam, it’s important to act quickly:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately and request that they contact the financial institution where the transfer was sent.
  • Contact your local FBI field office to report the crime.
  • File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

02/09/2021

Stay Vigilant Against Business Email Compromise, Phishing Emails

The combination of a global pandemic coupled with a world full of remote workers led to a 660 percent increase in phishing attempts since March 1, 2020, according to ID Agent.

Like title and settlement companies, email from ALTA staff can be spoofed. As a reminder, ALTA will never ask for personal information. Do not click on any links and delete the phishing email if you receive an email asking for this information. If you happen to click on a link or open an attachment from a phishing email, contact your IT department. Also, ALTA will never try to sell mailing lists to members. Below is an example of a recent phishing email attempting to solicit information.

ALTA SPAM

Red Flags

Title and settlement companies can protect themselves by increasing staff awareness about these scams. According to the FBI, businesses that deploy robust internal prevention techniques at all levels (especially training front-line employees who may be targeted by initial phishing attempts), have proven highly successful in recognizing and deflecting email scam attempts. Here are some red flags:

  • A customer’s seemingly legitimate emailed transaction instructions contain different language, timing, and amounts than previously verified and authentic transaction instructions.
  • Transaction instructions originate from an email account closely resembling a known customer’s email account; however, the email address has been slightly altered by adding, changing, or deleting one or more characters. For example:
    • Legitimate email: john-doe@abc.com
    • Fraudulent email: john-doe@bcd.com
  • Emailed transaction instructions direct payment to a known beneficiary; however, the beneficiary’s account information is different from what was previously used.
  • Emailed transaction instructions direct wire transfers to a foreign bank account that has been documented in customer complaints as the destination of fraudulent transactions.
  • Emailed transaction instructions direct payment to a beneficiary with which the customer has no payment history or documented business relationship, and the payment is in an amount similar to or in excess of payments sent to beneficiaries whom the customer has historically paid.
  • Emailed transaction instructions include markings, assertions, or language designating the transaction request as “Urgent,” “Secret,” or “Confidential.”
  • Emailed transaction instructions are delivered in a way that would give the financial institution limited time or opportunity to confirm the authenticity of the requested transaction.
  • Emailed transaction instructions originate from a customer’s employee who is a newly authorized person on the account or is an authorized person who has not previously sent wire transfer instructions.

What If You Get Phished?

According to the FTC, companies impersonated as part of an email phishing scam should notify customers as soon as possible, contact law enforcement, provide resources for affected consumers and review their own security practices. Offering immediate advice and support can help companies retain customer goodwill. Here are tips on how to respond if your business is impersonated in a phishing scam:

Notify consumers of the scam. If you are alerted to a phishing scam in which fraudsters are impersonating your business, inform your customers as soon as possible. If your business has a social media presence, announce the scam on your social media sites and warn customers to ignore suspicious emails or texts purporting to be from your company. You can also inform your customers of the phishing scam by email or letter. The important point is to remind your customers that legitimate businesses like yours would never solicit sensitive personal information through insecure channels like email or text messages.

Contact law enforcement. If you become aware that criminals are impersonating your business, report the scam to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Suggest that affected customers forward any phishing emails impersonating your business to the Anti Phishing Working Group (www.antiphishing.org), a public-private partnership against cybercrime.

Provide resources for affected consumers. If consumers believe they may be victims of identity theft because of a phishing scam, direct them to identitytheft.gov/, where they can report and get resources to help them recover from identity theft. For more information about recommended computer security practices, direct consumers to resources on the FTC’s consumer information site, where they can learn how to protect themselves online and avoid future phishing attacks.

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02/02/2021

ALTA Member Profile: From Bartender to Innovative Title Company Owner

Member profile photo Mo ChoumilMo Choumil | Founder/CEO | ATG Title

How long have you been in the title industry and how did you get started in this profession?

It’s been 27 years already! I actually started as an abstractor back in 1993, but kept my focus sharp and decided to take the proverbial plunge and launch a title company in 2001.

What excites you about what you do or what is the most challenging aspect of your job?

My typical business day involves meeting people for coffees/lunches. I mostly meet with business partners, office managers at different locations, and recruit prospects. I’m mostly excited about growing the company—not only financially, but also culturally. I’m also motivated by self-development, for both the team and myself. I’m always looking for ways to improve systems and processes to increase efficiency and enhance our user’s experience.

What’s your best industry “war” story?

My best story revolves around COVID-19 and how we managed to not only survive, but also thrive. Thanks to systems we put in place prior to the pandemic, we’ve mobilized all operations to function remotely. Companies should always be proactive and have a longer-term vision. This helps tremendously under a crisis such as the one we’re facing now.

Why is the title industry a great career opportunity for those entering the workforce?

It’s a great niche industry that provides ongoing challenges and constant learning experiences. Things can become challenging, but the rewards are endless when you help navigate a customer through the title process.

What advice do you have for professionals starting their career in the industry?

Find a mentor in the company you are working for. There are plenty of successful veterans that want to share their knowledge and wisdom.

How has the industry evolved since you began your career? How has your company had to change in order to remain competitive?

Since the beginning, I’ve always looked for ways to utilize technology in order help improve efficiency. I’ve always put an emphasis on enhancing user experience. Unfortunately, the industry was super slow to adopt tech. I’m glad that the industry has finally evolved over the past few years.

What have you learned about yourself or your company since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?

I’ve learned a lot about and have been impressed by the agility and preparedness of my team. I am glad to have a team that appreciates all the technologies we’ve adopted in the past few years. It really came through in helping us to adapt and switch to remote workforce within a few days. They’ve also been able to handle a massive influx of business despite the pandemic’s effect on daily life.

Which ALTA committees do you participate in? Why do you participate?

I participate on the Homeowner Outreach Program Committee. We are big on educating the consumer. This committee made sense as they are founded on this very principle of educating consumers.

Tell us something that others in the industry may not know about you.

I used to be a bartender! And most don’t know that I’m originally from Casablanca, Morocco.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?

Tony Robbins. Simply put, he is the best business development/life coach that there’s ever been. He teaches not only lessons to grow business and self-motivation, but also personal finance and wealth creation.

What’s your favorite movie and book? Why?

My favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption. The movie displays how the power of hope provides a reason for the inmates to continue to live. Basically, it teaches you to never give up. As for my favorite book, it has to be Rich Dad Poor Dad. Author Robert Kiyosaki discusses how to truly develop wealth. The book proves that rich aren't born rich. That concept is a myth, and everyone should understand that.

What’s in your music playlist?

Lots of reggae. I’m big on Bob Marley. I also like techno dance music from artists such as the Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren. I’m also a fan of some 80s music as well.

ALTA Member Profiles

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