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The American Land Title Association (ALTA) continues to provide outstanding guidance concerning the CFPB’s regulations in the form of its Title Insurance and Settlement Industry Best Practices. You can access extensive Best Practices information on its web site at http://www.alta.org/bestpractices/index.cfm.  The Best Practices are broken down into seven “pillars” or areas, and highlight policies and procedures the industry uses to help ensure a positive and compliant real estate settlement experience.1

In conjunction with Best Practices, ALTA has developed Assessment Readiness Guides for use by its members for each one of the seven pillars. The Guides are one more tool in your arsenal to ensure you are doing all that you need to comply with the Best Practices. Each Guide will help you evaluate whether you are prepared to undergo an assessment to determine compliance with ALTA’s Best Practices. Self-assessment questions are included and should give you a clearer picture of your degree of compliance.

For example, in the Assessment Readiness Guide for Pillar 3, “Adopt and maintain a written privacy and information security program to protect Non-public Personal Information (NPI) as required by local, state, and federal law,” could you answer “yes” to the questions below?

  • Does your company conduct background checks on personnel who have access to NPI?
  • Does your company train employees on NPI protection and security upon employment?
  • Does your company restrict access to NPI to authorized users who need such access to complete their job functions?

Like many organizations, Signature has been working diligently to study Best Practices relevant to our business. We believe that parts of Pillar 3 do relate to us since some parts of our business may handle NPI. As for the above questions, we can answer “yes”, as we do conduct pre-employment background screenings and periodic, random checks during employment. We offer initial training with regular reinforcement outlining the importance of this provision. We also restrict information that our employees can view on a need-to-know basis.

In the Assessment Readiness Guide for Best Practice 4, “Adopt standard real estate settlement procedures and policies that facilitate compliance with Federal and State Consumer Financial Laws as applicable to the Settlement process,” you can consider questions like these:

  • Does your company possess written policy and procedures for conducting real estate closings or settlements?
  • Does your company possess written policy and procedures to ensure customers are charged the correct title insurance premium and other rates for services?

Check out all of the Assessment Readiness Guides for some helpful self-analysis. Using the Guides and worksheets is a good way to take your own temperature in terms of how you are doing in the compliance realm. How are you doing right now with compliance issues?  How much of your time have you had to devote to this area? “Protecting Your Investment” was the phrase promoted at ALTA’s 2014 Annual Convention to educate your consumer customers on what you do for them. By following the Best Practices, you can proactively protect your investment in your business.

1ALTA’s Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices at  http://www.alta.org/bestpractices/index.cfm

The information provided is for informative purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a legal opinion.  For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Patrick T. Roe

General Manager

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