How many times have you heard the words “wire fraud” in the last week? If your answer is a lot, that’s actually a great thing! But, if your answer is not at all, we have a problem.
The industry has been ramping up efforts to fend off these threats over the last couple of years. However, we can’t let our guard down because there’s still a long way to go until everyone (this includes buyers & sellers) understands the gravity of the situation. Staying vigilant against wire fraud should be so top-of-mind that it comes up in every real estate conversation.
Because this issue is so important to us and our partners, Bowe Digital sat down with wire fraud expert Tom Cronkright, the CEO of CertifID, to learn more about the topic in general as well as what we all need to be keeping tabs on in the future.
Q: Why do you have a passion for wire fraud protection?
Cronkright: Back in 2015, we fell victim to wire fraud (Cronkright owns a title company in Michigan as well) and went through the experience ourselves, losing nearly $200,000. It was a sophisticated wire fraud scheme that was orchestrated by cyber criminals in six different countries. We were called to testify against one of the syndicate leaders in a criminal trial in October 2018.
Over the last three years, we’ve continued to witness the level of sophistication grow exponentially.
Q: What’s the No. 1 misconception when it comes to wire fraud and real estate?
Cronkright: One of the biggest assumptions is that someone else is going to communicate the information to the party that needs it, meaning someone else will share the threat of wire fraud with them. Each transaction participant (agent, title provider, lender etc.) needs to find a way to deliver a proper and timely notice around the risk of wire fraud so that buyers and sellers know what to look for and how to respond to a fraud attempt.
Q: What do you wish more people understood about wire fraud?
Cronkright: The level of timing and sophistication of fraud schemes continues to evolve, and the threat increases year over year. We need to take this on as industry participants and protect the consumers that have hired us to protect them and deliver a great closing experience. Educating and engaging consumers about the issue mitigates risk for all parties involved in the transaction.
Q: What are your top two recommendations for protecting yourself against wire fraud?
Cronkright: First, people need to make it a standard procedure to confirm the identity and bank account credentials before funds are moved. Secondly, industry participants need to require that all referral partners have enabled multi-factor authentication on their email accounts. Email accounts need to be secured in order to keep cyber perpetrators out of the transaction.
Q: What’s the next big thing in wire fraud? Are there any new trends?
Cronkright: Mortgage payoff scams are the fastest growing payoff vector. Fraudsters know how mortgage payoff statements are delivered from lenders to title and escrow companies. They intercept or “update” them at critical points in the transaction which make them believable.
In addition, buyers of real estate are being targeted the first week of a transaction. Large earnest money deposits and cash transactions seem to be a big target this year as fraudsters divert wire transfers to accounts under their control.
Q: What else should title companies know?
Cronkright: This is an issue that faces every consumer in every real estate transaction. They’re after the life savings of everyday consumers.
That said, the past 12 months has shown significantly more awareness around this issue which is good for consumers. Forward thinking companies are putting the time and energy into making their company and customers more secure.
As the courts start to weigh in on this issue and more lawsuits start to come out, people are starting to show what they did as a transaction participant that could’ve mitigated the loss. Participants are holding each other accountable.
Feel free to pass along any or all of this discussion on to your team, partners and customers. Looking for more resources on the topic? Check out the new Coalition to Stop Real Estate Wire Fraud. It is full of videos, facts and figures you can share too.
LinkedIn’s mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
And so far, they’re executing well. It’s likely you already know the platform as your go-to spot for hosting your resume. But this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what LinkedIn can do for you and your company.
Thanks to its focus on professionals, LinkedIn has fostered an engaged community that wants to hear what career advice, work tips and professional development guidance you have to offer. It’s an amazing (and often underused) platform with a fast-growing captive audience. It’s time you make posting content on it a priority whether its through a company account or your own personal page.
We put together this handy list of best practices when it comes to posting, such as what to post and how often to post. These tips will help stop your content from getting lost in the noise and turn it into content that can truly make an impact.
The foundational best practice: We can’t stress this enough. You need to start by completing your LinkedIn profile. According to LinkedIn, companies with a complete profile receive 30% more weekly views. This means that your description, logo and company information all need to be filled out. (If you want some inspiration to get started, check out this Best of LinkedIn Pages that LinkedIn created.)
Now here are answers to two follow-up questions that you might be asking us.
LinkedIn is a platform that needs to be taken off the backburner and made a priority. Where else can you find so many people who are ready to engage with you? If you need more help creating and managing content, call Bowe Digital today at 317-410-1690.
We’ve all heard about the American Dream, but do you know where that patriotic phrase came from? Author James Truslow Adams coined the term in the aptly-named 1931 bestseller, The Epic of America.
Adams wrote this American ideal was, “a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” Or as he put it later in the book, a “dream of a better, richer and happier life for all our citizens of every rank.”
For decades, the achievement of the American Dream included buying a house – it’s why lots of you in the land title industry proudly proclaim yourselves as protectors of the American Dream. For many millennials, the achievement of that ideal has been delayed. Student loan debt has forced this generation to make financial sacrifices, but many in this age group are finally finding their footing and buying homes in the suburbs, just like their parents did. They do their homework before deciding where to go out to eat, so you know they’re researching who to give their business when buying a home.
Why the constant focus on millennials? They will likely account for “the largest share of homebuyers of the next decade.” It's a message we know you've heard a lot lately. Agents need work smarter to attract the attention of younger homebuyers.
The title industry is largely unknown to people who have never bought a home. It doesn’t have to stay that way. Innovative professionals can prove their value in today’s market by helping educate future customers on the best way to be a conscientious homebuyer. Offer education for all the costs involved in a new home purchase. Teach them about mortgage pre-approval, title insurance, amortization, appraisals, closing costs and escrow. These are terms millennials are Googling right now. Be the one that provides them with a succinct and accurate answer any way you can. Whomever they learn to trust in the process will get the sale.
Be the superhero of attaining a better, happier life for your customers. Show potential buyers the value you can offer them using social media, through email and in person.
Bowe Digital knows how to tell your story better and then get that message to the right people. Contact us today and ride a new wave for marketing everything your company has to offer. It is time to step out of the shadows and end the stigma that no one knows what a title agent does. Seize the opportunity to attract new buyers and potential future employees. It’s time to tell – no, show – a new generation just how valuable you are.
A few weeks ago, I found heaven in Arizona—Bloody Mary heaven! During the National Settlement Services Summit (NS3), I had the opportunity to visit Hash Kitchen. There were so many options and you were completely in control of how you made your drink. Spicy rim salt, jalapeno infused vodka, spicy Bloody Mary mix, shrimp, cheese, a Slim Jim piece, jalapeno, horseradish pickle, bacon, celery and, of course, more bacon -- that’s how I made mine, anyway.
So, what does all of this have to do with marketing your business? If you think about it, marketing is a lot like that Bloody Mary bar, and no I’m not writing this after a few drinks myself! Think about it. There are so many different ingredients that can go into both a Bloody Mary and marketing, and you just need to find the perfect combination that fits your needs and desires.
How does marketing have ingredients? In the form of options. So many options. And not all those options will work for your market, but when you find the ones that do work, it’s like a perfect Bloody Mary crafted by your own hand. What ingredients do we recommend? A well-rounded strategy that meets people where they are. What does that mean? Where are your customers spending their time? Are they on mobile devices, social media, email etc? Wherever they are, that is where your marketing should be.
Just because someone else is putting jalapeno infused vodka in their Bloody Mary, doesn’t mean it will be the right flavor for you. Same goes for your marketing. You may have business friends in a different state using Snapchat and seeing great results from it, that doesn’t mean you should use it. And it definitely doesn’t mean you will get the same results from using it. Test your market. See what works for your area, and don’t be afraid to throw away some ingredients that just aren’t working. Not sure how to test? Just start by asking your customers where they are most active.
Get started today! Pick some ingredients and begin experimenting on your way to that perfect concoction. Need some help getting started with your initial testing? That’s why we’re here. Contact me today at 317.410.1690.
Let Bowe Digital be your business best friend. Together, we’ll find what works well for your business and toast to your future success.