FBI: Consumers Have Lost More than $220 Million to Wire Fraud Schemes in 2020
The Voice • September 2020
The FBI says money lost in schemes like these is usually lost forever. Wire fraud, like the type that affected Aaron and Lindsey Fisher, is growing in frequency and severity throughout the nation. In the Fishers’ case, it nearly robbed them over close to $1 million and their dream home. In an attempt to close on their new home, the wire fraud perpetrators were able to, successfully, infiltrate the email discussions where they tricked Aaron and Lindsey into wiring the $921,235.10 directly to the fraudulent bank account, which was then immediately transferred to a bank in China.
Fortunately, the Fishers’ bank was able to return their money to them, but that is a stroke of luck that not many affected by this type of fraud and claim. Click here to read the Fishers’ full story and to learn tips on how to protect your family.
2-Way Audio/Video Authentication Now Accepted in Lieu of In-Person Approval
The Voice • October 2020
“The requirement that a couple ‘appear before’ the county clerk… to obtain a marriage license … may be satisfied if the couple appears before the county clerk using two-way audio-video communication…”
And, with this, Illinois counties can now provide marriage application approval completely online, granted that the official’s office, and the parties seeking the application, meet certain criteria (click here to find out). Despite the challenges brought on by this global pandemic, Illinois county clerks are finding modern, creative ways to continue performing their valuable, vital services for their community.
Here are the full criteria for this new legislation, pulled directly from the paperwork from Governor Pritzker:
Section 1. During the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations, the requirement that a couple “appear before” the county clerk to obtain a marriage license set forth in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/203, may be satisfied if the couple appears before the county clerk using two-way audio-video communication technology provided that the county clerk has the necessary technological compatibilities and the following conditions are met:
The two-way audio-video communication technology must allow for direct interaction between the couple and the county clerk;
The couple seeking the marriage services must present valid photo identification to verify identity whenever required by law the during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after, using two-way audio-video communication technology that is of a quality resolution such that the county clerk is able to inspect it; and
The couple must attest to being physically situated in the jurisdiction where the marriage is legally allowed to occur within the State of Illinois.
Participating county clerks may provide guidance related to how marriage licensure applications and issuance will be implemented in their jurisdictions.
Section 2. During the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations, the solemnizing of the marriage ceremony pursuant to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/209, may be performed utilizing two-way audio-video communication technology provided that the following conditions are met:
The two-way audio-video communication technology must allow for direct interaction between the couple and the person to solemnize the marriage (e.g., no pre-recorded videos of the signing of the marriage license or the marriage ceremony);
The couple seeking the marriage services must present valid photo identification to verify identity whenever required by law the during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after, using two-way audio-video communication technology that is of a quality resolution such that the person solemnizing the marriage is able to inspect it;
The couple must attest to being physically situated in the jurisdiction where the marriage is legally allowed to occur within the State of Illinois;
The couple must transmit by mail a legible copy of the signed document directly to the person to solemnize the marriage no later than one day after the document is signed;
The person who solemnized the marriage must sign the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same copy back to the person responsible for the document by law; and
The copy of the marriage license signed pursuant to this Section will become the official document for purposes of Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Pandemic Proves Wisconsin Register of Deeds Offices are Vital to Everyday Life
The Voice • September 2020
“The vital role registrars play is critical to the economy..” The latest edition of the Wisconsin Counties digital magazine was recently released, featuring a bevy of useful and valuable information from, and for, county constituents and officials. One featured article, found on Page 33 and written by Staci Hoffman, Jefferson County Register of Deeds, highlights how vital the Register of Deeds office is, and has been, during this global pandemic.
Click HERE to view the hard work put in by Wisconsin counties for this magazine, and be sure to flip to Page 33 for the full article highlighting the value of the Register of Deeds office.
Real Estate Market Amid a Pandemic: Thriving Despite the Challenges
The Voice • August 2020
Existing home sales, June over May, rose by 20.7%… indicating that the pandemic has done little to slow down the real estate market. An unprecedented increase in work-from-home scenarios has lead to the realization that practicality and quality-of-life represent far greater values in a home. Because of this, the real estate market has seen a decrease in condo and apartment search rates, whereas single-family home searches have increased by 40%. Despite the pandemic, the real estate market has not slowed down. Buyers are looking for home offices, pools, and backyards more than they have in decades as people have returned to the realization of how important a quality home really is.
Click HERE to read more from Forbes on why the real estate market is thriving despite the pandemic.
Click HERE to read more from AXIOS on what buyers are looking for in new homes during this pandemic.
eClosings Now Available in All 50 States – What You Need to Know
The Voice • July 2020
eClosings are still rare due to state restrictions… but with Quicken Loans’ staggering 96% eClosing stake, the company is working to make eClosings more common. Now available in all 50 states, eClosings still face some state, local, and federal laws that hamper the progress. While eMortgages are growing in popularity, alternate methods, such as Remote Online Notarization (RON), remain feasible options. Lenders are constantly working to ensure an easier, more streamlined experience as time moves on.
Click HERE to read more about Quicken Loans’ 50-state eClosing announcement. Click HERE to read more about expediting eClosing and Remote Online Notarizations.
Governor of Wisconsin Honors Register of Deeds with Week-Long Honor
The Voice • June 2020
Wisconsin sees first-ever week of observance in honor of… the state’s many Registers of Deeds. Highlighting impressive details including the extraordinary fact that the office of the Register of Deeds is older than the state itself, Wisconsin’s governor has set up its first-ever Wisconsin Register of Deeds week.
Click HERE to see the official announcement and to learn more fascinating facts about the Wisconsin Register of Deeds.
COVID-19 Phishing Attempts Rise 6,000% Since Pandemic Began
The Voice • May 2020
Stimulus checks provide cyber criminals with the perfect opportunity… to reach innocent civilians and small businesses. The IRS, World Health Organization (WHO), and the Small Business Association (SBA) are common names for these criminals to parody in an attempt to steal your information. All in all, a 6,000% increase in targeted phishing attempts have taken place – all built around COVID-19 topics like stimulus checks and more.
Click HERE to continue reading about the rise in COVID-19-based phishing attempts and learn what methods these criminals are employing to better protect yourself.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Causing Complications in the Housing Market
The Voice • April 2020
Email-based ransomware attacks continue to increase… in frequency during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to INTERPOL, there has been a steady increase in the frequency in which these ransomware attacks are occurring, especially against hospitals and healthcare organizations. Microsoft has joined INTERPOL in the fight against this growing crime, and your office is encouraged to pay close attention as the situation continues to evolve.
Click HERE to continue reading about the continued increase in frequency and severity in these email-based ransomware attacks.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Causing Complications in the Housing Market
The Voice • March 2020
Recorders’ offices, vital to the buying and refinancing processes… are closing across the nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Land Title Association (ALTA), around 1,000 of the nation’s 3,600 recording offices have reduced office hours, or shut down operations altogether. Fortunately, many offices are stepping up and reinforcing their value with improved accessibility with eRecording, ensuring that the nation’s economy can continue to operate and grow.
Click HERE to continue reading about how COVID-19 can, and already has, affected the housing market.
Hackers Publish City Files Online after Local Government Refuses to Pay Ransom
The Voice • February 2020
Hackers personalize ransom threats… by uploading city files belonging to Pensacola, Florida after local government refuses to pay ransom. With this move comes a bold – and frightening – shift in the way cyber-terrorists are responding to ransom denials. These files were posted on a public-facing website, accessible to all, and the criminals threatened to reveal more until ransom was paid.
Pensacola, Florida was struck by the malware attack on December 7th, 2019 which rendered the city without phone usage, email servers, 311 lines, and online bill payment systems. The virus, similar to one against Allied Universal, was identified shortly thereafter. While these hackers – known as the Maze hackers – have made similar attacks on the private sector in the past, it seems as though Pensacola, Florida, was the first government body to be affected by the group’s virus.
This style of ransom-gathering – being called an intimidation tactic – is not new to the world. In August 2019, 23 local governments in Texas were hit by a virus and shortly thereafter threatened with these intimidation tactics. While similar in nature, these two instances were performed by separate groups of cyber criminals, indicating a rise in yet another form of cyber-terrorism. These viruses are often spread through phising emails where the sender pretends to be from other government agencies such as tax collectors or even postal services.
As technology advances, so, too, does the opportunity for these cyber criminals to make a foothold and start reaping the rewards earned from terrorizing the private and public sectors. It is more important now, than ever, to be on the look out and to be aware of the threats surrounding our modern-age conveniences. It’s not a matter of “if”, but rather “when”, and counties who are ahead of the game in preparation are counties who survive the attacks properly.
CLICK HERE to read the full article on statescoop‘s website.
CLICK HERE to read a similar article outlining how to identify these faux-government emails.