By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator
One of the best and brightest escrow officers decided to share her identity compromise story in an attempt to prevent it from happening to her colleagues…meaning you! She was working on a messy file and really was not thinking straight when she received a phone call from her bank. The call came across her cell phone and said the bank name. When she answered, a woman named Ms. Jones said she was from the bank and with the fraud department. Jones said she was going to text a code so she could confirm this was in fact the escrow officer.
The escrow officer received the text code and read it back. Jones asked if she authorized a $1,000 transfer from her account. The escrow officer told her she had not. She told Jones she would go to her online banking, which Jones advised her they had already shut down. Jones then said she needed the escrow officer to read off one more code to authorize the shutdown. When the escrow officer read back the next text code she received — the phone line went dead.
The escrow officer immediately started receiving emails from her real bank. One said she changed her password and the second authorized a $1,000 withdrawal via electronic funds transfer. The escrow officer called her bank to report the incident and later received a call back from the real fraud department. She was informed that the thieves who stole the $1,000 had used her Social Security number and they really did shut down the account. The escrow officer had to purchase credit monitoring, file a police report and is now contacting all three credit bureaus to make them aware of the incident. On top of it all, she is still out the $1,000! Read about new phone scams and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim in "FRAUD alert."
Earnest money deposited by someone other than the buyer — otherwise known as a "third party" — comes with risks. Risks which can be mitigated by having the third party and buyer sign Third Party Deposit Instructions. Read "THIRD party or co–conspirator?" to discover the risks and how they are mitigated.
There are instances when a principal is unable to sign their closing documents in our offices and in some cases the principals may be in a remote area of the country where it is not feasible for a mobile signing agent to meet with them. When that occurs, settlement agents should encourage the principals to sign in the presence of an actively licensed attorney where the signing occurs. Read "SIGNING under the supervision of an attorney" to discover how an attorney can supervise the signing, and the Company can still record the documents and issue policies of title insurance.
Be sure to answer the monthly document execution question to make certain you understand the tips shared and to increase your "PROPER document execution for recording and insuring" knowledge.