The advancing dangers of fraud in real estate are at an all-time high. Since the FBI established its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) back in 2000, they have received 8 million complaints. Its most recent report highlights the increase of cybercrime in the United States. In 2023, a cybercrime was reported once every 28 seconds. To learn more about the top crimes and astronomical losses, visit CertifID.

Landmark Title prides itself as an industry leader, dedicated to ensuring safe and secure real estate transactions for our clients. In our effort to do so, we’ve invested in new technologies that help support a more secure closing process. In the past year, we invested in CertifID, a leading bank account certification and identity verification software system. With CertifID, our title agents can securely send wire instructions, as well as safely and quickly collect and confirm bank details. CertifID also provides insurance for every transaction through Lloyd’s of London. In this blog, we will discuss how CertifID is reinforcing a safe and secure transaction process for Landmark Title’s clients.

Why CertifID?

CertifID is a guaranteed resource to safeguard clients and businesses alike. Landmark Title won’t compromise our reputation and that is why we value our partnership with CertifID. It protects our transactions and helps our clients realize their goals without placing their assets at risk.

Here are 4 reasons we use CertifID at Landmark Title Assurance Agency:

  1. To protect clients’ wire payments from fraudulent communications
  2. CertifID insures up to $1 million in direct coverage for wire transfers
  3. CertifID provides an easy, user-friendly experience
  4. A dedicated and trustworthy support team

Here’s how the process works using CertifID:

  1. Your Escrow team at Landmark will reach out to you to start the CertifID process.
  2. You will then receive a text message and an email from CertifID
  3. You will validate your identity in a few simple steps
  4. You can then securely exchange bank account information with your Escrow team

Real estate red flags to recognize

Impersonators and fraudsters will stop at nothing, and they are getting bolder; even going so far as to attend signings in person. Here is a list of red flags for seller impersonation that we recommend real estate professionals and buyers watch out for:

  • Communicates ONLY by email or text
  • Urgency to sell
  • Seeks out cash buyers and/or pushes for a quick closing
  • Prepared to sell under-value
  • Makes excuses for being unavailable for calls or meetings
  • Insists on using their own notary to sign documents
  • Signature samples that don’t match
  • Driver’s license and passport have the same photo

Here are some of our recommendations of steps that real estate professionals can take to avoid seller impersoantion:

  1. Ask the seller to meet in person (if possible) or virtually, with the camera on. During the meeting, ask to see a photo ID.
  2. Conduct an independent search to obtain contact information of the property owner.
  3. Request documentation that can prove ownership i.e., their title policy or other closing documents from when they purchased the property and/or recent tax notification.

In our recent Q&A blog, Landmark Title Vice President of Escrow Operations Tiffannie Hobgood shared valuable insights on the rising dangers of seller impersonation fraud and further steps Landmark Title is taking to keep clients protected and informed throughout the transaction process.

What to expect from your title assurance agency

Your title partner should assure you that steps are in place for processing the transaction for each closing securely. These measures should include but are not limited to:

  • Requesting two forms of photo ID
  • Sending a confirmation letter to the known address of record
  • Wiring instructions verified through CertifID or another secure wire vetting process
  • Asking questions to both the seller and the agent
  • Carefully comparing signatures
  • Google reverse image lookup of documents and IDs
  • Using a vetted and approved notary – especially if the seller requests to sign outside of the title company’s office

Landmark Title knows there is no silver bullet when it comes to combatting identity fraud. However, with CertifID’s layered approach, we know that we are doing everything in our power to protect our clients and transactions from the biggest risk facing our industry. This SaaS security solution is robust, offering all parties peace of mind. Even if someone is conned outside of CerifID, its Fraud Recovery Services team, in partnership with the U.S. Secret Service, will work to get the money back. If you would like to learn more about what to do if you suspect fraud or how you can be alerted, get in touch. Our team of experts is happy to educate on this topic and looks forward to working together.