Wire Fraud is on the Rise

COVID-19 Response

In response to COVID-19, we want to assure everyone that Indiana Title Network is taking extra precautions. We are requesting that only realtors/attorneys and clients signing documents attend the closings. Our lobby will be closed until further notice.

We suggest you bring your own pen. However, one can be provided for you to take with you or disposed of after the closings. Conference rooms and chairs are being wiped down after every closing or meeting conducted. During this time, only bottled water and disposable cups for coffee will be used.

If there are any matters which can be handled over the phone, please call the office at (219) 662-8200. We have made arrangements to be able to handle most closings remotely. Please see the attached list of possibilities. You are welcome to visit our offices after scheduling an appointment; however, if you or anyone in your household have experienced cold or flu like symptoms, please reach out to our office so we can make alternative accommodations. In addition, if you or anyone in your household have been to a highly restricted region (China, Singapore, Italy, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Iran, Seattle, or New York) within 2 weeks or are currently exhibiting symptoms, please don’t enter the office and make alternative arrangements with one of our team members.

When you arrive at our office you will be asked by a team member to:

Sanitize your hands
Provide our staff with your identification
You will be given a pen to use during your closing and we ask that you take it with you when you leave
Let our personnel know if you are not feeling well so we can make accommodations for you.

Cash Transactions:
Cash Transactions Electronically – Cash transactions can be closed electronically via e-mail and/or Adobe Sign.
• Please send all necessary documents, including any documents that were pre-signed, to your closer in advance of closing via email. The closer assigned to your transaction is listed in the commitment email sent to you prior to closing. If you are unsure of your contact, please give us a call.
• Indiana Title will coordinate the signing of additional necessary documents via Adobe Sign. If a POA is being used, the link will be sent to the person with the authority to sign.
• Certain documents will require a notary: Deed, Seller’s Affidavit and Affidavit in Lieu of Survey. The seller can arrange their own notary or a Mobile Notary can be hired to travel to the seller. This will be based on the availability of the outside vendors and there is an additional fee.
• A UPS Label will be sent to any party that needs to send Indiana Title documents or checks, including the original deed.
• Proceeds and other disbursements will be sent by Indiana Title overnight via UPS or wire transfer.
Cash Transactions Mail Away
• The documents can be emailed to you. You would need to print them and arrange for a notary. We would provide you with a UPS label and you would need to arrange a UPS pickup or drop off.
Cash Transactions Mobile Notary Servicer
• A Mobile Notary can be hired to travel to you to conduct closing. This will be based upon the availability of the outside vendors and there is an additional fee.
Lender (Seller)
Lender funded sale side transaction. The below process eliminates the need for the Seller and Seller’s representation to attend closing in person.
• Please send all necessary documents, including any documents that were pre-signed, to your closer in advance of closing via email. The closer assigned to your transaction is listed in the commitment email sent to you prior to closing. If you are unsure of your contact, please give us a call.
• Closing Statements will be emailed to all parties for review prior to closing.
• Indiana Title will coordinate the signing of any additional necessary documents via Adobe Sign. This includes any documents the lender requires other parties (i.e. Realtors) to sign.
If a POA is being used, the link will be sent to the person who has authority to sign.
• Certain documents will require a notary: Deed, Seller’s Affidavit and Affidavit in Lieu of Survey. The seller can arrange their own notary or a Mobile Notary can be hired to travel to the seller. This will be based on the availability of the outside vendors and there is an additional fee.
• A UPS label will be provided to any party that needs to send Indiana Title documents or checks, including the original deed.
• On the day of closing the final master settlement statement and Seller CD will be sent out for final approval and signature.
• Proceeds and other disbursements will be sent by Indiana Title overnight via UPS or wire transfer.

Lender (Buyer)
Lender Funded buy side transaction
• Closing statements will be emailed to all parties for review prior to closing
• Seller & Title documents can be reviewed and signed electronically before closing using Adobe Sign, as described above.
• Certain documents will require a notary: Mortgage, Buyer’s Affidavit. The seller can arrange their own notary or a Mobile Notary can be hired to travel to the seller. This will be based on the availability of the outside vendors and there is an additional fee.
• If an off-site closing has not been arranged, only buyers require to sign Lender documents should attend closing.
• After document signing, parties will be notified once transaction is funded.
• Once file has funded, proceeds and other disbursements will be sent overnight via UPS along with a signed closing statement or available for pickup.
• If the buyer prefers to have a power of attorney sign on their behalf, please provide us with the party that will be signing on behalf of the buyer or buyers along with the lender contact so we may get approval from the lender prior to closing.
In addition to the suggestions listed above, we remain able to accommodate your clients in our offices or at the location of their choice. Please contact our office for any assistance.

WARNING! WIRE FRAUD ADVISORY:
Wire fraud and email hacking/phishing attacks are on the increase! If you have an escrow or closing transaction with us and you receive an email containing Wire Transfer Instructions, DO NOT RESPOND TO THE EMAIL! We do not provide wiring instructions via email. Call your escrow officer/closer immediately, using previously known contact information and NOT information provided in the email, to obtain our wiring information prior to sending funds.

Common Wire Fraud Schemes
A hacker can break into an email account to obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions. After monitoring the account to determine the likely timing of a close, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing either as the escrow agent or as the licensee. The fraudulent email may contain new wiring instructions or routing information, and request that the Buyer send funds accordingly. They could just as easily send an e-mail to the escrow agent posing as a Seller or a Real Estate Broker instructing the escrow agent to wire seller funds to different account rather than to the account provided at the signing.

Be Alert
Below are the procedures we have implemented at Indiana Title Network Company to keep our clients’ information and money safe and secure. We have also provided some tips on what a client should look for.

We encourage you to pass them along to your client so they are aware of the wire fraud scams plaguing our industry.

1. Indiana Title Network Company will not accept disbursement instructions or changes to disbursement instructions via e-mail. Should a circumstance arise that requires disbursement instructions be sent via e-mail we will always contact the client to confirm the information received using a pre-verified phone number.

2. If your client receives wire instructions via e-mail, instruct them to ALWAYS follow up with a phone call to their escrow closer before they wire funds using previously known contact information and not the contact information provided in the email.

3. Pay attention to the wording of an email requesting funds. Many fraudsters are “offshore” offenders and their sentence structure may be broken and may contain misspelled words or improper grammar.

4. Beware of e-mail spoofing. E-mail spoofing is the forgery of an e-mail address so that the message appears to have originated from someone other than the actual source. For instance, you could receive an e-mail that you believe originated from your Escrow Closer or Broker because the e-mail address is the same as theirs. However, if you click on the e-mail address it will disclose the true e-mail address of the originator. E-mail Spoofing is a common tactic used in wire fraud campaigns and if you are not familiar with the tactic you are very likely to follow the instructions contained in the e-mail, believing they came from the proper party.

5. Be wary of a sudden or urgent request for funds that were not anticipated or required as part of the transaction. Examples include a request for an additional earnest money deposit or extension fee that was not part of the purchase agreement.

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