Cyber attacks targeting title and settlement companies remained the same or increased over the past year, according to a recent ALTA survey.
Results showed that 86% of respondents said the volume of cyber attacks either increased or remained the same last year when compared to 2020.
The survey of 569 title agents nationwide was conducted by ALTA’s Research & Analytics Work Group. It asked agents about their experience with cybercrime and wire fraud.
“Cyber incidents continue to evolve rapidly in number and sophistication,” said Diane Tomb, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “As criminals continue to modify their tactics and prey on unsuspecting consumers, the title and settlement industry continues to lead the charge raising awareness about wire transfer fraud, educating their staff and implementing procedures to safeguard real estate funds.”
The survey showed 46% of respondents reported their employees receive at least one email attempting to change wire or payoff instructions monthly.
While attacks remained elevated, the survey showed an overwhelmingly better recovery success over the past year compared to the prior year’s survey. In 2020, 78% of respondents did not recover any diverted funds. According to the 2022 survey, 94% reported some amount of recovery and 17% recovered 100% of the diverted funds.
“This is a testament to the processes and procedures followed by title and settlement companies, along with coordinated effort by financial institutions and law enforcement, to improve the odds of recovering funds,” Tomb said. “Continually working with our partners involved in the real estate transaction, along with government officials, we must continue to educate homebuyers about how they can protect their money when purchasing a home or refinancing a mortgage, so they continue to trust and have confidence in our digital world.”
Over the past few years, ALTA has successfully advocated for language addressing business email compromise (BEC) schemes in various House and Senate appropriations reports. This language directs the respective agencies to report on efforts to combat and raise awareness of BEC and collaborate with industry partners to address threats. This year, ALTA secured language in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) and Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) reports.
Resources and Tools to Help Protect Your Company:
- ALTA Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan
- ALTA Outgoing Wire Preparation Checklist
- ALTA Rapid Response Plan for Wire Fraud Incidents
- Video: How To Complete an IC3 Report
- ALTA Wire Fraud Video
- ALTA Wire Fraud Infographic
Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or [email protected].