ALTA's Take on Protecting You Against Wire Fraud

ALTA CEO Diane Tomb and CertifID CEO Tom Cronkright discuss recent trends, developments, and resources in the fight against wire fraud.

ALTA's Take on Protecting You Against Wire Fraud

ALTA CEO Diane Tomb and CertifID CEO Tom Cronkright discuss recent trends, developments, and resources in the fight against wire fraud.

Written by:

Tom Cronkright

Read time:

6 minutes



Nov 8, 2022

CertifID’s CEO Tom Cronkright recently welcomed American Land Title Association’s (ALTA) CEO Diane Tomb on a webinar to discuss a range of topics that keep real estate professionals up at night.

From the latest in ALTA’s efforts to educate their members on the risks of wire fraud to the recent impact cybercriminals are having on the industry, Diane and Tom focused on the progress that has been made, but were also honest about the work that still needs to be done.

You should make the time to listen to the entire webinar, “ALTA’s Take on Protecting You Against Wire Fraud.” But if you just want a quick rundown, here are five questions that real estate professionals need the answers to:

1. How has the risk of wire fraud changed in the last few years?

ALTA’s Diane Tomb was quick to point out that cyberattacks—including wire fraud—have only continued to increase. In fact, according to the latest ALTA survey, 86 percent of title and settle company respondents saw either an increase or continuation of threats to their business. 

Putting the threat in more stark terms, this equates to at least one email phishing attempt to change wire transfer or mortgage payoff instructions every month.

CertifID’s Tom Cronkright also noted that his organization has noticed more criminals biding time after gaining access to title and settlement company networks, patiently waiting for bigger wire transfers to target versus smaller earnest money transactions.

2. What are some recent wins in the fight against wire fraud?

Although wire fraud has continued to be a dark cloud hanging over real estate professionals’ work, Tomb pointed out that the industry’s hard work, including efforts supported by CertifID, has made an impact.

In particular, ALTA’s 2022 survey found that 94 percent of respondents recovered at least some portion of funds targeted by wire fraud attempts. In fact, 17 percent recovered all the funds. This is a significant increase since 2020, when 78 percent did not recover any illegally diverted funds.

3. What resources do real estate professionals have to learn more about wire fraud?

ALTA has been working closely with industry partners and security experts across the country to create resources for their members to fight back against wire fraud. Above all, both Cronkright and Tomb highlighted that minutes matter when recovering from wire fraud.

This makes prevention, practice, and preparedness even more important. To help, professionals can leverage several ALTA resources, including:

In addition to ALTA’s resources, professionals can stay ahead of fraud trends via the FBI’s IC3 or learn more about CertifID’s industry-leading platform, which title and settlement companies use to securely verify personal identities before sharing wire transfer details or collecting financial information.

4. What are the risks of wire fraud for real estate professionals?

Cronkright emphasized the impact of business email compromise (BEC) as a tool of choice for cybercriminals, leading to nearly $2.4 billion of the $6.9 billion in losses faced in 2021.

More than 77 percent of title and settlement companies operate independently as small businesses. This means that even one successful wire fraud attempt can not only put their customers in jeopardy, but also the continuation of their brand. With the average per-BEC incident loss hitting $120,277 in 2021, recovering from such a substantial financial hit can be too much.

Above all, Cronkright wanted these real estate professionals to know they are not alone in the fight and to take steps now to avoid becoming the next victim.

5. What is ALTA doing next to lean into the fight against wire fraud?

Although the impact of wire fraud continues to grow, Tomb finds optimism in the growing awareness and attention this crime is receiving across the industry.

In addition to working with industry partners, ALTA’s work in federal and state legislatures has led to new reporting requirements for the FBI to increase annual data collection about wire fraud. Changes like these can better inform training, security practices, and prevention.

Get plugged into the CertifID webinar series.

Want to listen in to the entire webinar, “ALTA’s Take on Protecting You Against Wire Fraud”? You can find this episode here. Be sure to check out the rest of CertifID’s ongoing To Catch a Fraudster webinar series!

If you want to sign-up for the next edition, then click here to register!

Tom Cronkright

Co-founder & Executive Chairman

Tom is an accomplished entrepreneur and licensed attorney. He has founded and led award-winning businesses to receive honorable recognition in their respective fields. Tom is also a highly sought-after speaker who lends his expertise to the world of real estate, fraud, and security-related topics across the country.

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