in this issue

By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator

Property theft from absentee-owners continues to be a problem. The syndicates attempting to commit this crime learn from each success and failure, then modify their scheme. They have learned the title industry’s best defense in thwarting this crime is the notary. Settlement agents who have honored an imposter’s demands to use their own notary, find out later that the seller is an imposter.

It is important to verify a signer did appear in front of the notary who notarized the documents. Read “ALWAYS verify” to learn how an escrow officer discovered a seller impersonator. 

Efaxing can be just as risky as sending an email. Depending on the efax provider the sender or receiver is using, the fax may not be properly encrypted to protect the data being transmitted. This is problematic for settlement agents because they never really know what type of encryption a sender has in place. 

“THE dangers of efax” demonstrates how risky an efax can be and why settlement agents must always ensure they are verifying wire instructions received in this manner. Read on for all the details. 

Settlement agents only report “cash” deposits receipted into their trust account. If a buyer deposits their earnest money with the real estate broker, it is the broker’s responsibility to monitor and report those deposits, not the settlement agent. Once multiple “cash” deposits have been received and (when combined) total more than $10,000 — then IRS Form 8300 is filed. 

IRS Form 8300 is due to the IRS no later than 15 days after receipt of the “cash” instruments. The deadline has nothing to do with the timeline of the transaction. It begins the day the “cash” items received total more than $10,000. It has nothing to do with the date the file opens, closes or even cancels. Read “IRS form 8300” for more information.

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