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

First Person: My Real Estate Cyber Fraud Nightmare Before Christmas
Portland Business Journal  |  December 5, 2019
For most people, buying a new home is an exciting and unforgettable milestone. For a growing number of unsuspecting homebuyers, however, it has turned into a nightmare because of wire transfer fraud. To help others learn more about how to prevent wire fraud, encourage friends and family to check out the Coalition to Stop Real Estate Wire Fraud.
Pass It On: Share What You Know and Stop Scams
November 21, 2019
Holidays often mean time with family and friends. If you’re looking for conversation starters that avoid tricky topics–like who should’ve won the World Series–why not chat about scams? Pass it On, an FTC education campaign, gives you new ways to talk about scams and how to prevent them. You can also take the opportunity to raise awareness about wire transfer fraud and mortgage closing scams. To help your family and friends learn more about how to prevent wire fraud, encourage them to check out the Coalition to Stop Real Estate Wire Fraud.
People are the Very First Element in a Pragmatic Cybersecurity Strategy
Help Net Security  |  November 3, 2019
Thirty-nine percent of cybersecurity and IT executives indicate their company is under-prepared to handle a data breach and 66 percent prefer negotiating with a used car salesperson over dealing with a breach, according to an Avertium survey.
Beware of Real Estate Cyberfraud
Topeka Capital-Journal  |  September 29, 2019
Although consumers have long been warned about online phishing schemes, a new type of cyberfraud targeting potential homeowners is on the rise, and it’s affecting Realtors, real estate brokers, title companies, closing attorneys, and homebuyers and sellers across the country at alarming rates. Join the Coalition to Stop Real Estate Wire Fraud and sign the petition in support of victims like these as well as the advocates working to help stop this type of cybercrime.
FFIEC Encourages Standardized Approach to Assessing Cybersecurity Preparedness
August 29, 2019
The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) says using a standardized approach to assess and improve cybersecurity preparedness is the best course to reduce risk.
Cryptocurrency Thefts, Scams, and Fraud Could Hit $4.3 Billion in 2019
Venture Beat  |  August 12, 2019  |  Dean Takahashi
Cryptocurrency thefts, scams, and fraud could hit $4.3 billion in 2019, according to a report by cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace, which previously reported Q1 fraud at about $1.2 billion. CipherTrace has now released its Q2 2019 Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report, the latest comprehensive overview of major cryptocurrency thefts, scams, and fraud around the world.
Cybersecurity: Remain Vigilant
July 25, 2019
You may not be interested in cybersecurity, but cybercriminals and government regulators are interested in you and what you do to protect your clients’ information.
Report: Attempted Losses Due to Business Email Compromise Schemes Spike to $301M per Month
July 16, 2019
According to FinCEN, real estate was the third highest targeted sector for BEC in 2018, accounting for 16 percent of all reported incidents. While real estate firms represented 9 percent of all targeted firms in 2017, they accounted for over 20 percent of fraudulent transaction amounts. Real estate firms have the highest average fraudulent transaction amount of $179,001.
Detectives Recover $471,000 for Scammed Texas Homebuyers
CBS Austin  |  July 10, 2019  |  Melanie Barden
After filing a report with the FBI, the homebuyers contacted the Williamson County Sheriff's Office. Within days, the detectives were able to secure the money at a bank in Florida. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud, as well as a downloadable 10-step guide on what to do if you've been hit by 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.
ALTA Spearheads Launch of Coalition to Stop Real Estate Wire Fraud
July 9, 2019
To help raise awareness and educate homebuyers, and real estate and mortgage professionals about the risk and urgency of the problem, ALTA on June 28 launched the national Coalition to Stop Real Estate Wire Fraud. Initial coalition partners include the Community Mortgage Lenders of America, the Real Estate Services Providers Council and the American Escrow Association. Participating on a press call to announce the coalition were ALTA President Cynthia Durham Blair NTP, U.S Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala), real estate professional Rich Hopen and Tom Linehan, executive vice president at BankUnited. Read on to learn more about the coalition and how to get involved.
Inside a Business Email Compromise Operation
The National Law Review  |  June 25, 2019
A new report from cybersecurity company Agari’s Cyber Intelligence Division outlines the operations of a business email compromise (BEC) gang in West Africa, showing that criminals who engage in BEC online theft can have a diverse portfolio of online criminal activity that they use to build their capabilities, and use sophisticated methods to scam their victims, including businesses and government agencies.
Utah Launches Campaign Warning Public of Real Estate Fraud
The Salk Lake Tribune  |  June 24, 2019  |  Sara Tabin
The Utah Division of Real Estate has launched a new public outreach campaign to warn the public of a rapidly growing email scam that targets property transactions to force people into wiring down payments and other high dollar real estate proceeds to con artists’ accounts.
Ditch the Complex Password?
June 20, 2019
Studies show that poor password security instead of password complexity is often a major cybersecurity weakness for most organizations and employees that leads to criminals accessing non-public personal information. The latest password guidelines issued by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommend significant changes to the way companies and people approach the complexity and usage of passwords.
The Multibillion-Dollar Problem Of Weak Cybersecurity in Real Estate
Forbes  |  June 12, 2019
There is one area that companies, especially those within real estate, are still not giving enough attention: cybersecurity. A recent study by IBM put the average value of a single data breach at $3.86 million per company.
New Home Owner Almost Loses Her $45,000 Down Payment to a Real Estate Phishing Scam
KHON 2  |  June 2, 2019  |  Jenn Boneza
Lorraine Khan and her husband sacrificed for years to save enough for a down payment on a house. Khan said knowing she came so close to being scammed out of that money is unsettling and she wants others to be aware so they don't get taken advantage of.
Six Mistakes Companies Make in Data Breach Handling
May 30, 2019
Whether a small, one-county shop or a national operation, how a company handles a data breach highlights the type of business you run, how well you treat customers and the long-term forecast for success for failure. Experian provides the six worst errors a company can make in handling a data breach and tips on how to avoid them:
Survey: 75 Percent of Title Agents Don’t Conduct Phishing Tests
May 23, 2019
More than 75 percent of title professionals don’t conduct simulated phishing tests, according to a survey conducted by ALTA’s Data & Analytics Work Group. Additionally, only 11 percent of respondents conducted monthly testing and only 6 performed annual tests. Nearly 700 agents nationwide participated in the survey.
Cybersecurity Insurance Isn’t Enough to Fight Wire Fraud
May 21, 2019
Social engineering is the most common way in which a title agent or other principal in a real estate transaction is duped by cyber criminals, yet most basic plans don’t cover it.
Analysis of Ransomware Used in Baltimore Attack Indicates Hackers Needed 'Unfettered Access' to City Computers
Baltimore Sun  |  May 19, 2019  |  Ian Duncan and Christine Zhang
Baltimore officials say they have a plan to get the city’s real estate market moving again in the midst of a crippling ransomware attack.
Baltimore Ransomware Attack Cripples City Systems Vital to Real Estate Eeals
Baltimore Sun  |  May 14, 2019  |  Ian Duncan
The ransomware attack on Baltimore computer systems has shut down systems essential for completing home sales, putting a halt to property deals at one of the real estate industry’s busiest times of year. The ability to review public records and record new documents have been disrupted by the hack, according to a bulletin from a title insurance company and real estate agents. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud, as well as a downloadable 10-step guide on what to do if you've been hit by 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.
Real Estate Wire Fraud Is Real—And It Almost Happened To Me
Forbes  |  May 9, 2019
A thief had tried to steal nearly $60,000—and my dream home—right from under me. But my case was far from unique. Thousands of unwitting homebuyers fall victim to these fraud schemes every year. And as the industry gets more and more digitized, the number of victims (and their losses) only grows. 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.
Ohio Catholic Parish Victim of Sophisticated Business Email Scheme, FBI Says
News 5 Cleveland  |  May 8, 2019  |  Kaylyn Hlavaty
Following a hack that left Saint Ambrose Catholic Parish in Brunswick out of nearly $2 million, the Cleveland Division of the FBI has weighed in on the hack Tuesday, revealing the parish was a victim of a business email compromise (BEC) scheme. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud, as well as a downloadable 10-step guide on what to do if you've been hit by 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.
Sounding the Alarm on Cybersecurity
The M Report  |  May 8, 2019
As phishing schemes and wire fraud increase, especially while closing on mortgage loans, it is time for the industry to step in and raise awareness about data security.
The FBI's RAT: Blocking Fraudulent Wire Transfers
Bank Info Security  |  May 7, 2019  |  Jeremy Kirk
The FBI's latest report into the state of internet crime confirms that fraud, e-hustles and social engineering attacks continue to proliferate. The scale is still astounding: The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, accepts reports of fraud from around the world. In 2018, it received 900 complaints per day, totaling 351,936 complaints for the year. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud, as well as a downloadable 10-step guide on what to do if you've been hit by 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.
Foxconn Executive, Wife Duped Out of $260K in Home Purchase Attempt
WISN/ABC  |  May 1, 2019
The same day a Foxconn executive and his wife were swindled out of more than $260,000 during a real estate wire transfer, a man in Florida was trying to dupe a Pennsylvania victim out of an additional $138,000. 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.
A Growing Email Fraud is Hitting Inboxes Across Utah
FOX 13 Salt Lake City  |  April 29, 2019
In the scam the criminal targets home buyers and sellers by hacking into their emails and intercepting email traffic before a real estate transaction. The criminal creates a fake/ spoofed email to look like your real estate agent, title company or bank to deceive you into sending loan funding, earnest money etc. right to the fraudsters' account instead. 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.
Closepin Releases New Wire Instructions Verification Tool
March 19, 2019
In addition to providing lenders an automated compliance and risk management program for their closing agent network, Closepin said its solution now verifies wire instructions on the same insured platform.
ALTA Urges Congress to Develop Uniform Rules on Data Protection, Collection
March 18, 2019
ALTA urges Congress to develop national, uniform rules to guide businesses about how to protect data and to ensure consumers are notified of breaches in a timely and consistent manner.
Secret Service: San Antonio Elderly Couple Wired More Than $1 Million to Foreign Scammers
San Antonio Express-News  |  March 7, 2019
An elderly couple in San Antonio unknowingly wired more than $1 million to foreign scammers while trying to buy a house last year, federal law enforcement officials said Thursday. The San Antonio couple was among more than 2 million victims aged 60 or older targeted by elder fraud schemes in 2018. ALTA has created ALL NEW Innovation Boot Camps for 2019 to help you protect your business from wire fraud scammers and hackers. Don't let wire fraud keep you up at night: Come to Boot Camp, April 16-17 in Raleigh, NC. Click here to register.
FTC Seeks Comment on Proposed Amendments to Safeguards and Privacy Rules
March 7, 2019
Proposed changes to the Safeguards Rule would require financial institutions to encrypt all customer data, to implement access controls to prevent unauthorized users from accessing customer information and to use multifactor authentication to access customer data.
Phishing: Don’t Take the Bait
Federal Trade Commission  |  March 6, 2019  |  Colleen Tressler
The Federal Trade Commission has developed a new infographic offering tips to help recognize, avoid and report phishing scams. These schemes often lead to wire fraud. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud, as well as a downloadable 10-step guide on what to do if you've been hit by 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.
Escrow Fraud Nearly Leaves Ohio Woman Homeless
TV 10-WBNS  |  March 5, 2019  |  Kevin Landers
A representative of AmeriTitle in Columbus, Ohio, says in most cases, hackers gain access to real estate offices computers because they often don't have the most updated computer firewall protections and their information is sent out without encryption. ALTA has produced a short video and an infographic to help raise awareness about wire fraud, as well as a downloadable 10-step guide on what to do if you've been hit by 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.
 Tips to Protect Payoffs from Wire Fraud
February 26, 2019
Traditional mortgage wire fraud scams usually began with a fraudster deceiving a buyer or key party to the transaction into believing the imposter was a legit participant in the deal. Once inserted into the email chain, the criminal changes already established wiring instructions. In a recent twist, fraudsters are deceiving title companies by issuing counterfeit mortgage payoffs and wire instructions from the start. Read on for tips to protect your operation from criminals targeting targeting loan payoffs.
San Francisco Firm Offers Solution to Lock Hackers Out of Home Sales
February 10, 2019
The power brokers in real estate say they're alerting the puiblic to this scam. But new victims fall for it every day. 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.
Title Agencies Implement Blockchain Technology to Help Prevent Wire Fraud
February 7, 2019
Landmark Title Assurance Agency and Title Security Agency of Arizona both have implemented the RealBloq.io platform at some of their branch operations to securely send wire instructions.
Metrics are Confusing. We can Help.
February 6, 2019
Get Down to the Nitty-Gritty at ALTA SPRINGBOARD "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." Seriously, though, Yogi Berra is right: How do you know you're hitting your goals if you don't keep track of your performance?
SafeChain Adds Routing Number Authentication to Wire Fraud Prevention Platform
February 5, 2019
SafeChain’s wire fraud prevention platform now incorporates information from the Accuity Bankers Almanac Routing and Transit Number (RTN) file, giving users greater confidence that funds are being wired to the correct account.
How to Educate Clients About Fraud
Mortgage Professional America  |  January 31, 2019  |  Kimberly Greene
The biggest threat is still classic wire fraud, according to Bruce Phillips, senior vice president and chief information security officer at Williston Financial Group. 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.
Washington State Woman Loses Life Savings, Dream Home in Down Payment Scam
KREM 2-CBS  |  January 31, 2019  |  Jane McCarthy
"I'm 75 years old and I've never had a dream house before. So that was going to be my dream house," said Sandra Lee, who wired $98,000 after receiving wire instructions via email that appeared to come from her escrow officer. "I'd go over there and I'd see deer in the yard and I just thought, ‘Oh, I can't wait to live out here.’"
Hit by Wire Transfer Fraud? Use the Kill Chain Process
January 31, 2019
The FBI offers a Financial Fraud Kill Chain (FFKC) process to help recover large international wire transfers stolen from the United States. This process can only be used if the fraudulent wire transfer meets certain criteria.
Red Alert: How To Protect Yourself From Real Estate Fraud
Forbes  |  January 30, 2019  |  Kevin Amolsch
Most fraud attempts are easy to spot, but some are more sophisticated. Real estate agents, attorneys, lenders, title companies and homebuyers (including real estate investors) are all targets. One tip to protecting against fraud is to verify the title company. This can be done with the ALTA Registry. The the ALTA Registry can serve as an effective countermeasure to wire fraud. Being an ALTA member or policy forms license holder does not mean your company is in the Registry. Make sure your company is confirmed.
Orlando Homebuyers Lose $46,000 in Title Company Impostor Scheme
ClickOrlando.com  |  January 27, 2019
An Orlando couple wired a $46,000 down payment to a title company they thought was legitimate, but later learned it was really a spoofed IP address for hackers based in South Africa. The home buyers were given the bad information by their real estate agent. 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.
Cyberthieves Keep Stealing Millions from Homebuyers; Is There a Fix?
The Oregonian  |  January 27, 2019  |  Mike Rogoway
The FBI says the number of cyberthieves targeting real estate transactions exploded by 1,100 percent from 2015 to 2017 with losses as high as $12 million a month. Operating over the internet, the thieves could be anywhere in the world so the money is rarely recovered.
Oregon Man Who Lost Home Down Payment Now Warning Others About Cyber Scams
KGW 8 NBC  |  January 21, 2019  |  Katherine Cook
WFG National Title Insurance Co. hired the man to educate other consumers on the dangers of cyberfraud, particularly the fraudulent email scam known as “phishing.
CertifID Reports It has Protected Over $1.2 Billion in Wire Transfers
January 15, 2019
CertifID announced it has protected over $1.2 billion from wire fraud from late 2017 through December 2018.
The Reality Of Real Estate Wire Transfer Fraud: Overview Of Cyber Risks
Value Walk  |  January 10, 2019
William and Nancy Skog had cherry-picked an impeccable, perfect, river-front residence in Wilmington, Illinois. There was one final step needed to finalize their purchase—wire $307,000 in closing costs to their real estate attorneys. Having received an email with payment instructions sent from what looked like a legal assistant at the firm, William and Nancy wired over their entire life savings—$307,000. Days later, however, the couple sat across from their lawyer at the closing table and learned their payment never arrived. 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.
WFG National Title Launches Cyberfraud Awareness Team
Mortgage Orb  |  January 8, 2019  |  Patrick Barnard
The company is asking industry participants – including real estate agents, mortgage lenders, financial institutions and other title insurance companies – to join the team to educate consumers about the dangers of online and email fraud, particularly at the time of closing when funds need to be wired to settlement service providers.
Title Company Owner Sees Education as Best Fraud Deterrent
Daily Record  |  January 6, 2019  |  Jay Edwards
“Six or seven years ago I was at a convention for the American Land Title Association," said Billy Roehrenbeck, owner of Pulaski County Title. "They brought in an FBI agent to speak to us about wire fraud and in the following months things began to improve. The saying in our office became, ‘Pick up the phone and verify it (the account information before wiring funds).’" 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.