Computer Safety – Important Information to Share

15 Aug

It feels like summer just began, and we hate to say it, but the start of another school year is right around the corner. It’s time to purchase school books, pencils and pens, and a stash of Ramen Noodles for the semester. On the list may also be a new computer, laptop, or tablet computer. While students are getting back into the swing of doing homework, researching school projects, and focused on getting good grades, they also need to be aware of malware, phishing schemes, and safe computing practices.
Tips to stay safe this school year
Malicious cyber activity affects students in a variety of ways, ranging from malware and scams to cyber bullying. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep you, your children, and your devices protected from the latest threats. Here are some cybersecurity tips for staying safe for the new school year:
• Keep Software Up-to-Date. Be sure to keep the operating system, browser software, and apps fully updated with patches. Even new machines can have out-of-date software that leaves you at risk. Operating systems and applications are constantly updated to fix bugs and address security issues. You should use automatic updates to ensure you’re using the most secure version of the software that is available. Also, review the privacy settings – when an app is updated, it may change your settings!
• Configure Your Device and Apps with Security in Mind. The “out-of-the-box” configurations of many devices and apps are default settings often geared more toward ease-of-use than security or protecting your information. Enable security settings on your device, and as you install software and apps, pay particular attention to those that control information sharing.
• Malware Protection. Make sure to have antivirus with anti-phishing support installed on all devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, etc.). Set it to update automatically and run virus scans at least once a week. Since malware today is increasingly sophisticated and can avoid detection by antivirus software, also consider installing script-blocking and/or ad-blocking browser plugins.
• Consider Comprehensive Internet Security. Consider using a comprehensive Internet security software in order to better keep your device safe. Most Internet security software suites offer parental controls, which are great for managing applications that can be downloaded and the time spent on the device, while making sure students are communicating with friends on social networks in a safe way. Be sure to have and turn on personal firewall software.
• Practice Safe Computer Usage. Use trusted apps and only browse to trusted websites. Malware is often hidden in apps that trick you into downloading them or in fake websites that lure you in with
interesting pictures or stories! Make sure everyone who uses the device takes the same precautions.
• Think Before Sharing. It’s easy to over share online. Be careful about divulging personal information – like school names, team names, home addresses, and telephone numbers. Have your kids use safe search tools such as Google’s
• Be a Smart Network User. Don’t access personal or financial information over unsecured public WiFi networks such as the free WiFi in coffee shops, bookstores, hotels, and schools, as this data can be easily “sniffed” (a.k.a. viewed) by others. Instead, consider using your smartphone’s more secure cellular signal to surf the Web, and if you have other devices, “tether” them to your phone instead of using an open and unsecure WiFi.
• Be on Guard for Phishing. Don’t open email attachments from untrusted sources. You may be expecting emails from group members or teachers, but use caution when opening any attachments. If you are not expecting an email or it just doesn’t look right, don’t open it. It could be a phishing attempt.
• Use Strong Passwords. To ensure a strong password, make sure you use a complex and unique password for each account/system. Use passwords that are at least 10 characters long, and contain upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. For more information on how to create strong, unique password see this MS-ISAC security primer.
• Guard Against Physical Access. A key problem for students continues to be the general lack of privacy and personal space they have at school. Whether it’s a shared living space, crowded workspace, or the general communal environment of a college campus, they’re constantly exposing their devices to access by others. Be aware of your surroundings and keep your computing devices with you or locked in a safe place.
• Backup Your Data. Saving important data is important given the growing risk of “ransomware” infections. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks up a person’s files until the victim pays a ransom to the hacker. It is prudent to back up often, using both a physical storage device like an encrypted flash or external hard drive and a cloud-based account.
• Don’t Jailbreak/Root Your Device. Jailbreaking a device is when you gain “root” access to the device, which means that you disable the manufacturer and operating system protections so that you can access areas you were not intended to have access to. This access can allow you to have greater functionality but also reduces the security on the device, making it more likely that you will be infected with malware. Jailbreaking your device puts you at a greater risk of getting hacked, and makes the device more susceptible to malware, malicious apps and sensitive information disclosure. It is best not to jailbreak your devices.

What is Title Insurance?

9 Aug

Though most individuals are familiar with homeowners’ insurance, not all home owners are knowledgeable about title insurance.

What is Title Insurance?

In a nutshell, title insurance covers events that may have happened before the date a title was issued to a new party, and it does not cover events that happen after issuance. In other words, it protects the new owner from any missteps of the previous owner.

Before a new title insurance policy is issued, an insurer will do a title search. This search tends to reveal a number of possible issues:

  • incorrect names on the title
  • improper vesting
  • incorrect notary acknowledgements
  • outstanding mortgages
  • tax liens
  • court judgments
  • easements

Thankfully most of these issues can be cleared up and the insurance process may move forward. With the lender doing this in-depth search ahead of time and making sure that the titles are clean before insuring them, the risk of claims being filed is greatly decreased.

For this reason, many title insurance fees are relatively low. In fact, many require only a one-time fee. This also helps to protect the individual seeking to obtain the title. If there are any issues that arise that cannot be cleared ahead of time, individuals could decide that it is not a proper investment.

 Common Title Problems

Even considering the diligence that goes into researching and clearing titles, there are still title problems that individuals may face. Fraud is a major component to possible issues. Prior owners may have forged documents, power of attorney, mortgages or satisfactions or releases of mortgages.

Even worse, they could impersonate the true owner of the property all together.

There could also be instances where an individual is unintentionally committing fraud if they think they have the power to sell a property but do not. This scenario is more prevalent in cases of inheritance, divorce, spousal death, dealing with minors, incompetence, or undisclosed heirs.

Outside of fraud there are a few other instances where individuals may have issues with purchased titles. Individuals may purchase a clean title, yet have limited or restricted access to the property. There could also be some unintentional issues with documentation, such as:

  • errors and omissions in transcriptions
  • failure to preserve original instruments
  • incorrect indexing
  • lack of authority of notary
  • inadequate descriptions
  • incorrect interpretations of wills
  • invalid tax titles

These issues may not be easy to address and may prevent the sale of title indefinitely. Unfortunately, for those who may have already begun the process to purchase a property or home, these issues can lead to financial loss if the problem cannot be rectified.



HECM Endorsements for July

2 Aug

HECM endorsements dropped -6.3% in July, totaling just 3,534 and marking a new low for the year in two of the past three months.

Four of the ten regions were up on for the month, but none of those were among the top four by volume:

  • New England was a bright spot, up 28%, but that was still the lowest recent level for the region except May and June
  • New York/New Jersey inched up 5.6% to 265 loans
  • Mid-Atlantic also rose 3.2% to round out the Eastern Seaboard bounce

Lenders showed an even leaner look, with just 3 of the top 10 bucking the industry decline:

  • Reverse Mortgage Funding jumped 38.9% to 264 loans in a sharp recovery from last month’s drop
  • RMS/Security One grew 22.5% to 87 loans
  • Finance of America Reverse rose 7.2% to 298 loans moving back into second place on the month after briefly dipping to third in June

Read the Reverse Mortgage Insight report for the month here:

HECM Lenders – July 2016

Welcome to Tradition Title Agency

1 Aug

trad logo

No title agency works with more diligence and attention to detail than Tradition Title Agency. With decades of experience creating and using innovative solutions, our team of professionals has perfected title searches, transfers and deeds, for reverse mortgages, residential mortgages, and commercial mortgages in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We have never had a title issue that we could not find a viable and satisfactory outcome for.

Tradition Title saves your company time and money by streamlining and fast tracking your title clearings. We ensure the safety of your clients’ interests and eliminate liability issues with no hidden fees in an average turn around time of just three to five business days.

We help you build your business by partnering with you to help educate your clients to make the best choices. Mortgage lenders, brokers, loan officers, and attorneys rely on Tradition Title again and again because your satisfied customer is our goal, too.

The entire Tradition Title team is ready to assist you with reverse mortgages, title searches, title insurance, land titles, lien searches, residential title clearing, commercial title searches and more.

Please contact our office to find out what we can do for you at 631-328-4410, email us at, or submit our Contact Us Form.

We can help!


Senate Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Condo Legislation

22 Jul
The U.S. Senate approved legislation by unanimous consent that is designed to make FHA’s condo recertification process substantially less burdensome. H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act,” passed the House of Representatives by a 420-0 vote in February.

The legislation now goes to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Under the Act, FHA must:

  • establish and implement a recertification process that is substantially less burdensome than initial certification
  • cease and desist from rejecting condominiums that use transfer fees to fund association operations
  • lower the owner occupancy limitation from 50 percent to 35 percent
  • provide additional flexibility for condominium projects with commercial space

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is drafting a proposed rule that will make further changes to its condominium approval guidelines.

The Real Estate Professional’s Guide to TRID

18 Jul

Know Before You Owe mortgage initiative

Real estate professionals are trusted resources for people choosing to buy a home. New rules taking effect will change your clients’ home buying experience. Since clients turn to you for help, we’re providing you with this guide to explain the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Know Before You Owe mortgage initiative.

The Know Before You Owe mortgage initiative is designed to empower consumers with the information they need to make informed mortgage choices. It includes the implementation of the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule, which is often referred to as “TRID.” We prefer Know Before You Owe (and since getting past jargon is a first step, we think you might prefer it too).

Mortgages are complex and confusing. This new rule primarily does two things:

  1. It simplifies and consolidates some of the required loan disclosures, and
  2. It changes the timing of some activities in the mortgage process.

This guide will help you work with your clients to ensure smooth and on-time closings.

The guide can be found here:

Information Security – Some Precautions You Can Take

15 Jul
The international interest in the Olympic Games, the variety of sports, and the seventeen-day schedule makes for a lengthy window of opportunity for criminals to take advantage of.  Fraudsters have the luxury of time and a variety of interest areas to choose from in trying out their schemes to see what works and then to improve upon the effectiveness.

How can you avoid being a victim of these schemes? The simplest way is to be cautious and to understand the fraud schemes that you can expect to encounter.

We know that the criminals have already begun trying to entice victims with the lure of false tickets. This type of activity is likely to continue to be targeted to tourist audiences who are in the market to purchase event tickets. To avoid being scammed, only use the official site of the Olympics Games to find the official ticket vendor, the official vendor for the U.S. is CoSport. Criminals are creating very sophisticated, look-a-like sites, which are difficult to discern from official ticketing sites. These false sites even mimic expected customer service responses to delay the reporting of the theft.

We also know that ransomware is currently one of the most popular criminal methods and is sure to be used in conjunction with enticing Olympics-themed email messages. What is ransomware? Ransomware infections may encrypt files on a victim’s computer and demand a ransom be paid to allow the victim to regain access to the files. Malvertising is one of the most common gateways for malicious software to be installed on a device. Malvertising, or malicious advertising, is the use of online, malicious advertisements to spread malware and compromise systems. The advertisement, or email and its attachment will be carefully designed to draw upon your interest in the hope of getting you to open them. You can learn to spot these messages by being mindful, being observant, and being aware of attachments.
The fraudulent messaging around the Olympics will look identical to what you would expect to receive from a sales or promotion around these games. Do not respond to, or click links in unsolicited emails. If you are interested in an offer being advertised, a safer alternative is to use a search engine to find the official vendor’s site and to visit it directly to look for the offer. If the deal is available, then it is likely going to be promoted on the vendor’s website. Fraudsters may also use other attention-getters surrounding the Olympic games, such as “Zika outbreak at the Olympics!”
The Rio Olympics will begin on August 5 and last until August 21, with more than 10,000 athletes competing in 306 events. Careful attention to the sites that you visit for your Olympics purchases or to watch the games online will make them more enjoyable. Go Team USA!