It seems like every time you turn around, you hear about a new threat to your escrow accounts, or another escrow agency owner discovering that their trusted employee has been stealing escrow funds from behind their back. These threats are real and regulators and legislators are standing up and taking notice.
During the last year, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Title Insurance Task Force’s Escrow Theft White Paper Subgroup worked to draft and adopt its Title Escrow Theft and Title Insurance Fraud White Paper. The paper is designed as a toolkit to help regulators and title industry members identify and prevent escrow theft.
“We did this white paper to make it available to insurance departments to make them aware of things we can do to help protect the consumers from [escrow theft],” said Martin Hazen, commercial lines manager at the Kansas Insurance Department, who helped craft the white paper as a member of the NAIC task force.
At October Research, LLC’s 2014 National Settlement Services Summit in June, Hazen will discuss the NAIC’s efforts and the findings of the paper to help attendees learn how to keep a compliant escrow office during a session titled, “The Model Escrow Office: How to Set Up a Safe and Efficient Operation.”
He will be joined by Paula Franks, manager, Advantage One Escrow and president of the Escrow Institute of California, and Nick Nicholson, incoming president of the American Escrow Association, who will delve into protection considerations, variations in state requirements and sound business practices to ensure you are running a safe and compliant escrow office.
“[Escrow theft] is bad publicity for the title industry. We have consumers missing money; we have law enforcement involved,” Hazen said. “If you prevent it up front, it’s great for everybody, for the public, for the industry. It’s something we need to keep on top of because, unfortunately, it does happen if you don’t watch things.”
In addition to his work on the NAIC, Hazen also had experience drafting legislation in Kansas requiring auditing of agents and their accounts as well as establishing bonding requirements for industry members in the state to help prevent escrow theft.
Escrow theft has been a serious threat for years, leaving consumers and underwriters at serious risk. Two case studies of that are the thefts that brought down Southern Title and New Jersey Title in 2011. Add to that the significant risk of cyber theft that can wipe out whole escrow accounts and it is more critical than ever to ensure you have a compliant escrow office. Hazen, Franks and Nicholson will bring their expertise to NS3 to help you do just that.
Click here to get more information about the 2014 National Settlement Services Summit in New Orleans June 9-11, including the agenda and a list of speakers. You can register for the Summit online or click here to get information about how to register via mail, fax or phone.