We provide strong independent assurance to lenders and all stakeholders

Alliant National Successfully Completes SSAE 18 Type II Exam for Fifth Consecutive Year

Successful SSAE 18 Type II examination validates Alliant National’s processes for approving, monitoring and reviewing its agents

LONGMONT, Colo. – Alliant National Title Insurance Company, a unique title insurance underwriter that partners with Independent Agents to improve their competitive position in the marketplace, announces the successful completion of the Service Organization Control (SOC 1) SSAE 18 Type II examination for the fifth consecutive year.

The examination results in an AICPA endorsed report stating that Alliant National Title Insurance Company has maintained effective controls over its Agent Quality Management System. A-Lign Certified Public Accountants of Tampa, Fla., performed the engagement and certification.

The successful SSAE 18 Type II examination validates Alliant National’s processes for approving, monitoring, and reviewing its agents, which results in its agents being designated as Authorized Service Providers or Certified Service Providers of Alliant National. Under this framework, Alliant National’s Independent Agents are reviewed annually against rigorous quality standards.

Lenders relying upon Alliant National’s oversight of its agents and Authorized and Certified Service Provider programs receive additional assurance that processes and controls are designed and function properly and accurately.

Alliant National was certified to the SSAE 16 Type I standard on Dec. 1, 2013 and received compliant status to the more rigorous SSAE 16 Type II standard effective Aug. 31, 2014 and each year through December 31, 2018. That makes 2018 the fifth consecutive year of continued compliance to SSAE Type II standards. The unqualified report was issued without exceptions.

“Alliant National was the first title insurance underwriter in the nation to obtain an SSAE16 Type II compliant status and is the only title insurance underwriter to achieve compliant status for five consecutive years. This certification provides strong independent assurance of our agent oversight systems to lenders and all stakeholders,” Alliant National President and CEO, Bob Grubb said. “Our goal is to provide unequivocal evidence of the quality of our agents through an independently audited system.”

Partners in Wire-Fraud Protection: The Escrow Account Holder and the Bank

Wire fraud is a HUGE problem that only keeps getting bigger and bigger.

In fact, U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (R-III) wrote a letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on June 29th urging the Fed to be more proactive in regard to wire fraud and real estate transactions. The letter referenced the United Kingdom’s system of matching payees’ names as a possible solution to the problem of wire fraud.

However, we don’t have to wait until a federal law is passed that orders banks to match the payee name on the wire transfer payment to name on the payee’s destination bank account (“Beneficiary Bank”).

As title and escrow agents, we can be proactive and in partnership with the banks with which we do business.

So, what can we do right now?

First, we can know what our Agreement with our Escrow Account Bank says.

Does your Bank Agreement say that your bank will check the payee’s name with the name on the destination account when a wire fund transfer is initiated?

Or, does it say your bank need only rely upon the account number it was provided in the wiring instructions order? The answers to these questions might lead to an opportunity to have a discussion with your partnering Receiving Bank.

We can also send the wire instructions on the payment order, with explicit directions that acceptance be restricted to match the designated payee’s name on the Beneficiary Bank account. If it doesn’t match, then do not send the funds.

Lastly, if something does go wrong despite our best efforts and precautions, then notify both the Beneficiary Bank and the Receiving Bank as soon as possible. Typically, banks require notification of an unauthorized transfer or error within a defined time period such as, for example, thirty or sixty days.

Aside from any contractual or legal requirement for early notification, the sooner the problem is communicated, the greater the odds of the bank being able to halt or pull back the wire funds transfer.

For a great explanation of how a wire fund transfer works behind the scenes, view “Funds Transfer Law and Unauthorized Payment Liability.”

Watch Out for These 3 Tax Scams

According to the IRS, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams.

These days, when we consider fraud schemes targeting title agents, we usually think about email scams where criminals attempt to interject themselves into specific transactions for the purpose of diverting a wire.

Such scams can be devastating for agents and consumers, and we must guard against this type of email fraud.

However, scams involving real estate transactions are just one small piece of the larger fraud puzzle; and with tax season upon us, it’s important to remember that our industry is not immune to the types of email and other schemes that are common to other businesses.

According to the IRS, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams.

Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals.

The agency recently released a flurry of alerts warning of various schemes. You can find a full summary on the IRS webpage, but here are just a few highlights.

W-2 scam

The IRS warned that fraudsters are increasingly targeting payroll and human resource departments in an attempt to obtain their Forms W-2, which the criminals then use to file fraudulent tax returns.

To work the scam, the fraudster writes emails that look like they’re from an organization executive. The emails are directed to an internal employee with access to wage and tax information, and they often begin with an innocent greeting, such as: “hi, are you working today.”

Soon, the fraudster asks for all Form W-2 information.

The W-2 phishing scam has victimized hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees in recent years, the IRS said. Employers of all sizes have been affected including public schools, universities, hospitals, tribal governments and charities.

The IRS has established a process allowing businesses and payroll service providers to quickly report any data losses related to the W-2 scam.

Learn more about the process here.

Phone scam

In a recent blog post,”Think Email Fraud is the Only Hack Tactic? Think Again.” , we noted that scammers are increasingly using phone calls to attempt to trick title agents into wiring money to fraudulent accounts.

Some simple technologies even allow fraudsters to spoof phone numbers. So, a criminal could call you, but make it look like the call was coming from someone legitimately involved in the transaction.

As it turns out, tax fraudsters are using this same technology.

The IRS warned that criminals claiming to be IRS employees — using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers — are trying to bully victims into sending them money.

Sometimes the fraudsters claim that the victim has a tax refund coming, and the money can be deposited if the victim provides his or her banking information.

The tax phone scam seems to be targeted toward individuals as opposed to businesses, but it underscores at least two important points: 1.) treat threats and high pressure language as a red flag; and 2.) the telephone isn’t always a “safe” method of communication.

Malware

Malware scams certainly aren’t new. Basically, the fraudster sends an email that looks like it’s from a trusted source, such as a business contact, a reputable company or a government agency.

The email directs the receiver to click a hyperlink or open an attachment.

When clicked, malicious software loads onto the victim’s computer, and the scammer uses that software to gain access to sensitive systems and information.

Fraudsters often attempt to trick title agents and others involved in real estate transactions into clicking malicious links by sending emails purporting to contain “important closing documents.”

By now many agents have seen the “closing documents” scheme, and they know how to avoid it. However, companies need to remain vigilant for other types of malware emails.

In recent weeks, the IRS has seen a surge in malware emails targeting the employees of all types of businesses. The emails, which appear to come from the IRS, carry malicious attachments labeled “Tax Account Transcript” or something similar. The words “tax transcript” often appear in the subject line.

The IRS reminded taxpayers that it does not send unsolicited emails to the public and would never email a sensitive document such as a tax transcript, which is a summary of a tax return.

If using a personal computer, such emails should be deleted or forwarded to phishing@irs.gov, the agency said. Those who receive such emails at work should notify their company’s technology team.

Congratulations Tracey Webb for receiving the National Title Professional Designation

Alliant National’s Tracey Webb Receives National Title Professional Designation

Tracey Webb, a Senior Vice President and Southeastern Region Agency Manager for Alliant National, has 30 years of title industry experience and is based in Atlanta

LONGMONT, Colo. – Alliant National Title Insurance Company (Alliant National) recently announced that Senior Vice President and Southeastern Region Agency Manager Tracey Webb, a title industry leader for over three decades, received the National Title Professional (NTP) designation from the American Land Title Association.

The American Land Title Association advises the NTP designation is designed to recognize land title professionals who demonstrate the knowledge, experience and dedication essential to the safe and efficient transfer of real property.

“Tracey is a very accomplished, professional and highly regarded title insurance industry executive,” said Kyle Rank, executive vice president, agency, Alliant National. “Meeting the NTP designation’s stringent standards and criteria is further proof of her dedication to our independent agents’ success.”

Webb, who graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, is also a Certified Public Accountant and is responsible for Alliant National’s agency group in the southeast.

“Advancing our industry through education and professional standards helps us all,” Webb said. “I look forward to continuing using my skills to serve our independent agents.”

Visit alliantnational.com/newsroom for additional information.

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MEDIA INQUIRIES

Cathie Beck
Capital City Public Relations
e : cathie@capitalcitypr.com
p : 303-241-0805


About Alliant National Title Insurance Company

The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent®, Alliant National believes in putting other people first. The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 450+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 24 states and the District of Columbia, with annual revenues exceeding $120 million. Visit alliantnational.com/newsroom for additional information.

#ALLNATCARES initiative partners with Thrive Food Bank to feed neighbors in need

Alliant National is thankful and proud to donate to an impactful organization that provides food and hope for new beginnings.

Staying within budget while exceeding expectations is a challenge for all event planners. But Alliant National’s Office of Fun & Festivities’ (OFF) members Julie Murphy and Rebecca Wenzel faced additional challenges while planning Alliant National’s holiday party: how to tie a meaningful contribution to our community into our holiday festivities.

After deliberating and researching viable options, the OFF team decided the holiday party would include hosting a food drive with proceeds going to Thrive Food Bank.

“We chose Thrive Food Bank because it serves a local, high-need population and is a well-organized food bank with a consistent positive impact on the local community,” Rebecca said.

But the OFF team soon discovered how GREAT an impact this local food bank truly has.

Located in Federal Heights, Colo., the Thrive Food Bank’s vision began in 2000 with Thrive Church volunteers going door to door introducing themselves and asking if there was anything they could do for their neighbors.

They didn’t hand out pamphlets or invite residents to services, they simply asked how they could help. The volunteers quickly learned the common need was food; people said they needed food.

Nearly 20 years later, Thrive Food Bank not only gives over a million pounds of free food and supplies annually, but it also gives people a hopeful new beginning.

Tammy Sharron found her new beginning when she moved to Federal Heights with no money to feed her family.

“For the first six months [living in Federal Heights] the Thrive Food Bank fed us and kept us alive. I don’t know what I would have done without this foodbank,” Tammy said.

No longer homeless, she’s been a Thrive Food Bank volunteer for over a year giving back to the service that sustained her family.

Court-ordered community service instigated Ed Lopez’s (above right) new beginning. Ed asked his aunt Angie, the Thrive Food Bank Director, if he could complete his 24 hours community at the food bank.

Ed’s 24 hours has turned into four years of volunteering. He describes Thrive Food Bank as “a beautiful system.”

“It’s beautiful to watch it grow,” he added.

Alliant National is thankful and proud to partner with such an impactful organization.

Prior to its holiday party, Alliant National housed a “donation display” in the office so employees could pick up reusable shopping bags to fill with non-perishable food items and bring them to the company’s annual holiday party.

True to their culture and character, employees met the donation goal.

“The true satisfaction is not just reaching the goal but hearing the stories and meeting the people whose lives are impacted,” Rebecca said. “It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.”

#ALLNATCARES

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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