Cybertheft Threatens the Title Industry
The threat of cybertheft to title agencies’ data is enormous and growing quickly: The Miami Herald called it “the fastest-growing form of real estate cybercrime in the U.S.” In fiscal year 2017, $969 million was “diverted or attempted to be diverted” from real estate purchase transactions and wired to “criminally controlled” accounts – up from just $19 million the year before, according to FBI data reported by the Herald. The losses can be steep: In 2017, a Washington, D.C., couple lost $1.57 million when their wire transfer of settlement funds was hijacked. Cyberthieves reportedly hacked a title and escrow company’s email system and diverted the funds to their own account, the Herald reported. Title agencies that are hacked risk financial damage from lawsuits, and loss of revenue from lenders and title underwriters who will undoubtedly take their business to a more secure competitor.
Title agencies make common security mistakes when it comes to protecting data. While much of the emphasis today is on cybersecurity, some of the biggest risks occur in the real world rather than the virtual one. At times we’ve gone to visit a title agency for an early morning meeting and arrived before the office is open. The door is locked and there’s a whole pile of envelopes that UPS or Fed Ex dropped off the night before. Those files often contain a borrower’s most sensitive data, whether it’s social security numbers, employment information, bank account numbers, etc. In this case, thieves don’t need to hack into a computer, they just need to know the drop off time of a UPS driver, pick up the files and drive away.
Need help ensuring your title business data is secure? Connect with us to find out how we can help forge your direct line to success.