Posted 10/15/2018

LLTA-supported proposal that would give us more guidance clears first hurdles

The GUIDE Compliance Act, a federal bill proposal supported by the American Land Title Association and the Louisiana Land Title Association is closer to becoming law.  Officially known as the “Give Useful Information to Define Effective Compliance Act,” H.R. 5534 was introduced in April by U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, a Republican from Wisconsin, and immediately gained bipartisan support. It was passed out of the House Committee on Financial Services with a 38-14 vote in late September.

The GUIDE Act was one of two proposals that title insurance colleagues pushed for during ALTA’s annual Advocacy Summit in May.   Marx Sterbcow, LLTA’s president, and one of our board members, Brent Laliberte, were among the summit’s attendees.

All of us are glad to have Marx and Brent working on behalf of LLTA.   Getting better direction from the CFPB would certain benefit title companies and their customers, Marx pointed out earlier this month.

“Anything that helps bring clear guidance to the residential real estate industry would be terrific. Uncertainty and confusion as to what the regulations are creates a difficult business environment for companies,” Marx said after the bill passed out of committee.   “Formal guidance is always better than gotcha guidance which is why we hope this bill is passed and signed into law.”     

U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) have also introduced a companion bill to the GUIDE Act, S. 3443.   Past ALTA President Steve Day, who testified in front of a subcommittee for the House proposal in June, also applauded the Senate bill.  

“This legislation would create a more formal process at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for issuing useful guidance to complement the consumer financial laws it enforces,” Day said in a statement released by ALTA. “Having the CFPB provide more clarity to regulations, such as the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), allows ALTA members to better serve consumers and deliver peace of mind to homebuyers every day. Regulations create the rules of the road for consumers and business, and when everyone understands the guidelines, markets operate more efficiently.”

In his previous Capitol Hill appearance, Day outlined several reasons the GUIDE Act was needed for consumers and title and escrow companies. According to his written testimony the bill calls for these six things.

  1. Issue guidance that is necessary or appropriate to carry out the purpose of the law it is responsible for, including facilitating compliance
  2. Publish in the Federal Register within one year of enactment the definitions, criteria, timelines and process for issuing each type of guidance the Bureau shall provide, with a final rule required within 18 months of enactment
  3. Allow industry to rely on guidance in good faith 
  4. Establish a process and time frames for requests for guidance, including time limits to provide answers in response to requests for guidance
  5. Create a process for amending or revoking guidance, including a process for public notice and comment
  6. Develop guidelines for determining the size of any civil money penalties

Bottom line is passing the GUIDE Act would officially gives the CFPB responsibility that many in the industry already think it should already have. If it becomes law it would be good for LLTA members, the entire title insurance industry, and most importantly, the consumer.

Several other industry groups, in addition to ALTA, have given their support to the GUIDE Act including the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers and the National Association of Home Builders. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on future progress of the GUIDE Act. Please contact LLTA with any specific questions you have about the legislation. If you are so inclined, communicate your support for the GUIDE Compliance Act to your local Congressional delegation by joining the Title Action Network at www.titleactionnetwork.com for free today.


Posted 9/19/2018

Wire fraud: It’s that important to be the focus of LLTA’s first blog

Welcome to the new Louisiana Land Title Association blog! We’re excited you’re here, and we promise to use this space to keep our members informed about trends and issues that affect you and your business. Our first topic needs no introduction though – it’s a problem that’s been around for years and probably keeps most of you up at night – we’re talking about wire fraud.

Why did we decide to devote our first blog to such an already-publicized issue? Because we know just how prevalent and damaging fraud can be. Scams have always been around in our industry, but now the crime often starts on a computer that’s thousands of miles away from its target. Business Email Compromise (BEC)/Email Account Compromise (EAC) scams accounted for more than more than $675 million lost in 2017, according to the FBI. Fraud is especially devastating for real estate transactions simply because of the sheer amount of money involved.

Despite the title industry’s best efforts, wire fraud continues to be a top concern for us, and these criminals are getting smarter and more sophisticated when it comes to wire transfer fraud originating on the Internet.  LLTA knows you’ve already taken lots of steps to protect your company and valued customers from a security standpoint. In fact, some of you are probably thinking you’ve done everything that there is to be done. However, what is going to help us win the battle is awareness, and that means we need to keep talking about it. Recently, there have been reports about arrests from the FBI for some of these criminals. Unfortunately, our work isn’t done. Make sure your employees, vendors and customers all know how to stay protected. It’s all about making sure you and your clients are not the next victim.

ALTA unveils new ‘Rapid Response’ Plan for fraud

The American Land Title Association has done education and awareness campaigns about fraud and what you can do to protect yourself. There are several videos on the subject on ALTA’s YouTube page that you can share on your social media channels and with your team.

ALTA’s latest act was launching a 10-step Rapid Response Plan this summer that they want title companies and closing agents to follow if they are hit by suspected scammers. The plan, put together by the association’s Information Security Committee, advises companies to have early discussions about who needs to be contacted and how if such an incident occurs. (We second this recommendation. Planning is always good.) In cases of fraud, “time is of the essence and every minute and second counts.” This detailed plan has already gotten a lot of publicity around the industry and from ALTA itself, but we wanted to highlight it again. We know summer is a very busy time for lots of you!

Wire fraud and other real estate scams are threats for every one of your customers – and anyone else involved in a transaction. All of us in Louisiana and beyond need to act to fend off cyber threats. If one person involved in the real estate transaction is compromised, it’s a problem for all of us.

Need more help protecting you and your company from wire fraud? Contact the Louisiana Land Title Association today, and we’ll be glad to assist you.


Louisiana Land Title Association, Post Office Box 14806, Baton Rouge, LA 70898 ~ Phone:  225-291-2806

Some of the photographs used on this site were created by Randy Roussel, a long time member of LLTA.

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