CertifID Launches Seller Identity Verification Solution

May 9, 2023

CertifID unveiled an identity verification solution to help title agencies and real estate firms combat seller impersonation fraud. The solution augments CertifID’s existing capabilities that evaluate more than 150 markers of fraud, including the verification of wiring instructions and bank account information.

The new solution is aimed at addressing an alarming increase in seller impersonation scams involving vacant land. The real estate industry overall continues to be a top target for fraud, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Vacant lots scams in particular have been fueled by a downturn in existing home sales paired with an increase in vacant land prices, as noted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The news also follows an advisory issued by the U.S. Secret Service Cybercrime Investigations division in January, citing a “sharp increase in reports of real estate fraud associated with vacant and unencumbered property.” According to CertifID’s own research, 73% of real estate firms have seen a year-over-year increase in seller impersonation fraud attempts since the start of 2023.

“This latest increase in seller impersonation scams coincides with the adoption of virtual closings and the ongoing acceleration in cyber fraud activity,” said Tyler Adams, CEO of CertifID. “With a majority of U.S. states seeing a net increase in vacant land sales, the industry has to respond by upgrading its payments fraud protection capabilities. CertifID is providing this new solution to help title agencies and real estate firms secure and insure their transactions, as well as protect their client community.”

To help detect seller impersonation fraud, CertifID recommends the use of its solution to comprehensively verify the identity of a seller in any property sales involving vacant land. The solution includes the use of device verification, multi-factor authentication and knowledge-based authentication to triangulate and verify the identities of sellers.

Here’s how it works: 

  • At the beginning of the closing process, the title company works with the listing real estate agent to initiate a request for seller information through CertifID.
  • CertifID then performs a series of security checks that assess the risk of fraud.
  • If CertifID determines a high risk of fraud, a request for additional proof of ownership from the seller is made.
  • Any change in seller parties or payment details should trigger an additional request to re-verify identity before closing funds are sent.

The solution also includes wire fraud insurance of up to $1 million per transaction for sellers that are verified through the solution.

“Most of our transactions are with remote sellers, so it’s nearly impossible for me to verify identity in person,” said Christian Ross, president of Ross Law and Ross Title. “I’ve evaluated a number of ID validation tools to solve for this problem, and none of them provided the level of security that CertifID provides.”

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