Information Security and Wire Transfer Fraud are critical topics for the land title insurance and settlement industry. Wire Transfer Fraud is a threat to every title operation regardless of size, location or years in business. ALTA’s priority is helping you protect your systems, plan for a rapid response in case of an incident, and prepare your employees, clients and customers to be aware and vigilant.

The ALTA Board has identified information security and wire transfer fraud as a Strategic Priority and staff are working to educate members on security threats to their businesses in both cyber and physical environments, collaborate with coalition partners to raise consumer awareness about information security and wire transfer fraud, and promote best practices for protecting personal funds and information and seek policy change that will protect consumers.

Do You . . .

  • work in the land title insurance industry?
  • use a computer, tablet or smartphone?
  • talk and email with vendors, clients, customers and consumers?

ALTA Helps You

Tools You Can Use

Get The Facts

  • 2017 Internet Crime Report. Published by the FBI's Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3). Take 30 minutes to read this report and discover the trends in cyber crime, which impact more than 200,000 victims every year and result in losses topping $1 billion.

Establish and Maintain Operational Readiness

  • NEW ITEM: ALTA Outgoing Wire Preparation Checklist: Use this checklist as a best practice for verifying outgoing wire information.
  • ALTA Rapid Response Plan for Wire Fraud Incidents: The standard ALTA Rapid Response Plan for Wire Fraud Incidents has been developed by the ALTA Information Security Committee. Download and customize:
  • ALTA Best Practices. The third pillar of ALTA’s “Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices” provides procedures that should be taken to protect non-public personal information (NPI).
  • Federal RequirementsGramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB): This regulation requires financial institutions—companies that offer consumers financial products or services like loans, financial or investment advice, or insurance—to explain their information-sharing practices to their customers and to safeguard sensitive data. These companies include title and settlement companies, as well as law firms.
  • State RequirementsForty-seven states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have enacted legislation requiring private, governmental or educational entities to notify individuals of security breaches of information involving personally identifiable information.

Promote Employee Awareness and Preparation

Title and settlement professionals are on the front line in the battle against wire transfer fraud. Use these tools to help prepare your employees:

Be a Leader for Clients & Consumers

ALTA has developed tools to help you educate consumers about the dangers of wire fraud.

  • ALTA Wire Fraud Video: This 2-minute video provides four tips on how consumers can protect their money and offers advice on what to do if they have been targeted by a scam. Link to this video from your website, include in your email or share on social media.
  • ALTA Wire Fraud Infographic: ALTA has produced this Rack Card explaining Wire Fraud. ALTA Members can brand the infographic with their own information at the ALTAprints website.
  • ALTA Wire Fraud PowerPoint for Consumer Education: (Member-only content) Use this presentation to educate consumers about the dangers of phishing emails and wire transfer fraud. The presentation provides information on what to do if you’ve fallen victim to a scam and also highlights 10 tips to prevent wire fraud.


Information Security Articles

Recent 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014

Missouri Couple out $130K in Real Estate Money Wire Scam
KSHB-TV Kansas City  |  December 18, 2018  |  Christa Dubill
The couple had started off truly communicating with their Realtor and title company. In the end, they were communicating with a scammer. Their money is gone. There is no way to get it back. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud. Click here to access the resources. In addition, the ALTA Registry can serve as an effective countermeasure to wire fraud. Make sure your company is confirmed.
Oregon City Family Who Lost Life Savings Due to Wire Fraud Will Have a Home in Time for Christmas
KTVB  |  December 13, 2018
An Oregon City family who lost their entire life savings in a sophisticated email scam and thought they would be without a home just days before Christmas is one step closer to moving into their dream home, after all, thanks to the help of a title company.
Fraud Alert: LLC Identity Theft
December 13, 2018
In 2017, title companies uncovered a large-scale national fraud scheme targeting distressed properties and borrowers. This fraud has evolved and criminals are now hijacking legitimate LLC real property owners. Read on to learn about this more about this latest fraud and the red flags to prevent it.
Homebuyers in Maryland, U.S. are More Vulnerable Than Ever Due to Fraudulent Emails
Baltimore Sun  |  December 11, 2018  |  Hallie Miller
Maryland real estate and title companies have resorted to holding regular training sessions, seminars and lectures designed to educate staffers. David Thurston, president of the Maryland-based Crown Title Corp., said his company first witnessed scam attempts via email around two or three years ago, but has not suffered any losses. Valerie Grandin, North American Title Insurance Co.’s executive vice president and chief underwriting counsel, said the same few “red flags” surface in the majority of these scams. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud. Click here to access the resources. In addition, the ALTA Registry can serve as an effective countermeasure to wire fraud. Make sure your company is confirmed.
Take Action to Prevent Wire Transfer Fraud
December 4, 2018
Because title companies have started to take preventative measures against wire transfer fraud, including in-depth education of employees, hackers have set their sights on the unassuming and innocent homebuyers.
Hackers Steal $90,000 from Kansas Dentist in Growing Real Estate Fraud Scheme
Kansas City Star  |  November 27, 2018
A lawsuit alleges that the title, mortgage and real estate companies involved in the homebuyer’s transaction failed to warn him of the scam or take precautions to prevent it. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud. Click here to access the resources. In addition, the ALTA Registry can serve as an effective countermeasure to wire fraud. Make sure your company is confirmed.
The ALTA Registry: Helping Lenders Reduce Risk, Protect Against Wire Fraud and Other Scams
November 20, 2018
The online database eliminates the "human-error" headache and helps alleviate lender compliance burdens. With more than 6,000 title companies and settlement providers already confirmed in the ALTA Registry, its important to ensure your company is part of the ALTA Registry. Being an ALTA member or policy forms license holder does not get your company automatically confirmed in the ALTA Registry. Verify your information today.
'They Failed to Protect My Money': Homebuyers Demand Answers, Accountability After Fraud
NBC Bay Area  |  November 16, 2018
As more homebuyers fall prey to a fast-growing real estate scam, new victims are coming forward — and demanding answers from the professionals who they say failed to protect them. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud. Click here to access the resources. In addition, the ALTA Registry can serve as an effective countermeasure to wire fraud. Make sure your company is confirmed.
Congressman Asks Fed to Consider Payee Matching Requirements on Wire Transfers
November 15, 2018
During a hearing before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) asked a Federal Reserve board member if the Fed has considered requiring banks and other financial institutions to apply payee matching when initiating a wire transfer. Last year during a Congressional hearing on data security, ALTA Past President Dan Mennenoh ITP, NTP offered the same solution about payee matching requirements to help thwart wire transfer fraud.
 SEC Warns Companies to Review Controls to Prevent Wire Fraud Attempts
November 8, 2018
On Oct. 16, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a report cautioning that public companies should consider cyber threats when implementing internal accounting controls. The report is based on the SEC Enforcement Division's investigations of nine public companies that fell victim to cyber fraud, losing millions of dollars in the process.
Mortgage Escrow Fraud is a $1 Billion Cyber Threat – Here’s What Homebuyers Need to Know
Bankrate  |  October 31, 2018
Imagine working your way through the grinding process of homebuying — you can practically feel the front-door keys jingling in your pocket, when a cyber thief snatches the earnest money you have in escrow. The FBI estimates that in 2017 escrow cyber thieves either successfully or attempted to wire almost $1 billion to criminally controlled accounts. This is a sharp increase from the $19 million figure in 2016. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud. Click here to access the resources. In addition, the ALTA Registry can serve as an effective countermeasure to wire fraud.
VIDEO: Scam Alert: Maine Family Falls Victim to Wire Fraud While Closing on New Home
ABC/WMTW  |  September 12, 2018
A Maine family fell victim to a wire fraud scheme to the tune of $10,000 while closing on their house. A fraudulent email account purporting to be the family's title insurance company requested money be wired for closing costs. Find out what happened and how some companies are dealing with the hottest scam in the country. Click here to access information to educate this wave of homebuyers about the benefits of title insurance. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud. Click here to access the resources.
Two Courts Rule Crime Policies Cover Wire Fraud, Business Email Compromise
August 28, 2018
Whether wire transfer fraud or business email compromise attacks are covered under cyber insurance policies typically depends on what type of policy was purchased and the company's location. Two federal circuit courts recently found coverage under a crime policy’s computer fraud provision for losses from a spoofing attack. This contrasts a series of past cases that limited coverage. Read on to learn the safest course of action.
Is Everyone on the Hook for Wire Fraud?
August 23, 2018
According to a white paper by CertifID, a recent federal court ruling means that anyone—including title agents, underwriters, real estate agents and mortgage lenders—involved in a real estate transaction may be held liable where fraud occurs, regardless of the relationship between the parties.
Download ALTA's Rapid Response Plan for Wire Fraud Incidents
August 21, 2018
Wire transfer fraud is a threat to every title operation regardless of size, location or years in business. In fact, the FBI reports that criminals have stolen $12 billion over the past five years business email compromise schemes. ALTA created a 10-step guide on what to do if you've been hit by wire fraud. Read on to download the rapid response plan.
ALTA Talks Wire Fraud With Regulators at NAIC Summer Meeting
August 9, 2018
The ALTA Registry and ALTA’s Rapid Response Plan for Wire Fraud Incidents were the main discussion topics during the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Title Insurance Task Force summer meeting in Boston.
 California Data Privacy Law Impact on Business
July 17, 2018
California’s sweeping data privacy Law signed into law in June will apply to more than 500,000 companies in the United States when it goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020. The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 gives consumers control over their personal information including the right to know what information companies are collecting about them, how it is used and if it is sold to third parties. Consumers will also have the right to prohibit companies from sharing their personal data.
U.S. Representative Asks Federal Reserve to Help Prevent Wire Fraud
July 10, 2018
In a letter, U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) asked Federal Reserve System Chair Jerome Powell if the Federal Reserve has considered requiring financial institutions to apply payee matching when initiating a wire transfer?
Wire Fraud Takes Aim at Home Construction Industry
June 12, 2018
Wire fraud is growing its range of targets, with the homebuilding industry increasingly in its crosshairs, according to a new white paper published by CertifID.
Hackers Target Local Homebuyers in Wire Fraud Scam
Action News Jacksonville  |  June 5, 2018  |  Jenna Bourne
“Over the past year, I would say we’ve probably had five to 10 where we have caught them in the early stages,” said Jacksonville Vanguard Title & Escrow General Manager Angela Huggins. ALTA has produced a short video and an inforgraphic to help raise awareness about wire fraud. Click here to access the resources. In addition, the ALTA Registry can serve as a deterrent to wire fraud.
South Carolina Governor Signs Cybersecurity Bill into Law
May 29, 2018
The law creates rules for insurers, agents and other licensed entities covering data security, investigation and notification of breach. This includes maintaining an information security program based on ongoing risk assessment, overseeing third-party service providers, investigating data breaches and notifying regulators of a cybersecurity event.
How to Detect Mortgage Wire Fraud Before it is too Late
HousingWire  |  May 21, 2018
Wire fraud victims have few options once they discover they’ve been had. But when minutes mattered, one Michigan homebuyer enlisted the help of a few friends—and made a recovery. Read on for an actual instance of mortgage wire fraud and how it got detected, before it was too late.
10 Cybersecurity Threats and Trends
March 22, 2018
Title and settlement companies must remain vigilant protecting data and money. Christopher Skinner, chief executive officer of technology security firm SpiderOak, details 10 threats and trends to look out for across business, governmental and personal arenas.
7 Tips to Enhance Cybersecurity Awareness in Your Organization
March 8, 2018
A recent study has shown that the average size of a data breach has increased 1.8 percent to more than 24,000 records since 2016. It is now more important than ever to implement preventative measures to help mitigate the risk of cyber attacks and train employees on cybersecurity best practices. The weakest link is often not the technology itself, but the users who can unknowingly cause a security incident through events such as opening a phishing email or allowing a visitor on-site without checking their access.
ALTA Joins Industry Groups Urging Congress to Enact National Data Breach Legislation
January 9, 2018
Following a series of recent data breaches, ALTA and 21 other industry groups sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee asking Congress to pass strong federal data protection and consumer breach notification legislation to help ensure consumers’ important personal and payment information is not vulnerable to cyber hackers.