Mortgage Software Solutions Blog

Justin Kirsch

Recent Posts by Justin Kirsch:

How to Safely Handle Personal Data on Mortgage Applications

How to Safely Handle Personal Data graphicA laptop, a book, and a smartphone on lockdown.

Mortgage applications require a huge amount of personal data.

Zillow’s educational post about mortgage application documents suggests more than 14 pieces of identifying data including an applicant’s social security status, employment history, income, and asset account balances. With a wealth of sensitive data, the potential for lenders as a target for identity thieves is extremely high.

In the post-Equifax regulation increase, it’s more important than ever for lenders to be careful with customer data. It’s the responsibility of financial institutions to keep their customers’ data safe.

Here are some ways that mortgage lenders can do their jobs while safely handling the personal data from mortgage applications.

Take Precautions with Customer Data

Lenders can do their part by informing customers about cyber security precautions they may be unfamiliar with.

First, encourage customers to send personal information via a secure online portal instead of email, which is susceptible to attack. To support transparency, lenders can publish privacy and security policies online where customers can access them easily. Finally, lenders should communicate to customers about what steps they are taking to protect their information.

This kind of open communication establishes trust and reassures customers that your company works hard to eliminate security threats.

Guard Against Phishing Scams

Beyond informing consumers, lenders can employ cyber security tools to guard against email-based attacks.

Hackers often send emails containing dangerous links disguised as normal work messages. The fake email messages can be quite sophisticated; using names and email addresses similar to people the recipient actually interacts with. This is called “phishing” and it is a type of email scam designed to make a person unwittingly provide information to outsiders.

Lenders should employ email safeguards such as EmailGuardian to protect loan officers from these phishing scams. This comprehensive cyber security product from mortgage software developers Access Business Technologies (ABT) uses multi-layered detection to identify suspicious messages and review incoming URLs for threats, spam, and malware.

Encryption Keeps Data Safe

Once email is established as a safe way for lenders to communicate, mortgage companies should amp up their data transfer security.

ABT offers another product called DocumentGuardian to give borrowers an easy way to send encrypted loan documents without having to register for an account. Customers should use this secure document drop portal to send all Non-Public Information (NPI) safely to loan officers.

The encryption feature keeps data from falling into the wrong hands by ensuring that only the correct recipient can decrypt the documents and access the data. By not requiring registration, lenders also avoid storing even more information that can be used to identify customers in the lending system.

Auto-Encryption Feature for Personal Data

With secure email and borrowers having a safe option for submitting personal data online, the final loophole that customers worry about is human error.

Though loan officers are knowledgeable about safety precautions and generally tech-savvy, everybody is human. People make mistakes. In the name of convenience and customer service, over 70% of mortgage lenders may be putting customers at risk by accepting loan application documents via unsecured email. The study cited speed and customer service as reasons for loan officers to bypass more secure channels. If they will take incoming data through secure channels, chances are outgoing messages aren’t completely on the level.

ABT’s EmailGuardian not only guards against phishing as mentioned, it also has an auto-encrypt feature that guards against accidental data breach by staff. If a loan officer inadvertently sends an email with NPI contained in the body of the message, the email will automatically be encrypted on its way out of the system.

This capability protects both the loan officer and the lending company from tripping up and creating unintentional liabilities.

The mortgage application process is fraught with security risks due to the amount and quality of personal data being collected for modern-day mortgage applications over the internet. Though ripe for potential breaches, mortgage lenders and borrowers can ensure the security of their conversations and data sharing by taking precautions and using cyber security tools developed especially for the mortgage industry.

With encrypted data, secure portals, and safety nets in place to handle human error, borrowers can have peace of mind that their data is safe with your company.

Visit Access Business Technologies to learn more about how mortgage lenders can successfully safeguarding their company and their customers’ data.

Image: Pexels

Topics: cybersecurity security mortgage business mortgage industry

Cyber Security Seatbelts Save Digital Lives

digital seatbeltsWear a seatbelt—navigate your cloud-based systems with safety in mind. 

“Safety first.”

It’s a pretty easy idea to agree on. We all think safety is important.

So what do we do when customers say we aren’t being safe enough?

2017 saw the largest consumer data breach in world history. Equifax made international headlines for a breach that exposed the personal information of as many as 143 million people.

As Equifax knows well, financial and credit-related information is extremely valuable to cyber criminals. Hacks of this kind need to be protected against.

Consumer Safety

After many years of unsafe automobiles, consumers were tired of dangerous cars. They demanded that the industry clean up its act to make vehicles safer. With a little help from activists, car makers complied.

With government regulations in place, riding in a car has changed. Now all cars are made with seatbelts and few people get into a car without buckling up.

The auto industry’s move towards standard safety precautions can teach finance folks a lesson about how to face consumer demand for safety.

Cyber Seatbelt

Safety precautions for automotive vehicles began with the simple safety belt.

The seatbelt of the mortgage industry is MFA security, which keeps data safe.

The safest “seatbelt” on the market, it’s time to implement multi factor authentication when your company migrates into the cloud.

For your staff, a cloud-based workspace makes work convenient and accessible. For cyber criminals, migration to the cloud means they have a doorway to try and break in.

Also known as MFA, multi factor authentication is a nearly fool-proof way to prevent the wrong people from accessing your company’s data.

MFA requires that employees accessing the cloud have to enter at least 2 forms of digital identification. MFA validates that the person logging into the system is who they say they are. Whether by a text message to their company phone or another form of ID, staffers are let in and hackers are kept out.

MFA is so secure, it has become the modern standard for financial institutions. It was adopted by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PSI DSS) in February of 2017. It was also listed as the standard for the mortgage industry in New York’s new cyber security legislation.

For any financial institution that works in the cloud, MFA is the first safety precaution that can protect both the company and consumers.

If MFA is the visible seatbelt, what are the airbags that provide safety behind-the-scenes?

Cyber Airbags

Email Guardian is a product developed by a US-based company specifically to keep financial information secure for mortgage companies.

Its main job is to watch business email. It checks URLs on incoming messages to watch for phishing attacks. It filters every link and tests linked sites to make sure they are clean. If a link is dangerous, this program catches it and breaks the link before your staff can click-through.

It protects companies from intrusion by providing comprehensive, multi-layered email security and content controls. A web-based application especially for financial institutions and big business, this application handles dynamic security precautions including email encryption and security tracking as well.

Just like how airbags provide a layer of cushioned protection for car drivers and passengers, this innovative technology provides layers of security to keep email hackers at bay and avoid catastrophe.

With MFA and Email Guardian combined, your company data remains out of harm’s way.

Lessons from the Auto Industry

Just as with unsafe automobiles, consumers are reacting to the Equifax disaster by demanding that something be done about info protection for credit companies and mortgage brokers.

Government regulators have begun to react as well. New York introduced groundbreaking legislation to regulate cyber security for financial institutions. Colorado and Vermont are following suit.

When consumers make an industry-wide demand, companies need to pay attention.

Since widespread consumer outrage over information leaks continues making news and influencing regulators, mortgage companies are wise to adopt security measures and establish a basis of protection for their customers.

In the same situation decades ago, auto manufacturers made serious efforts to improve consumer protection for their products. Today carmakers are seen by the public as one of the most safety-conscious industries.

Taking care of consumer data is important if lenders want to be seen in the same light in the future.

ABT’s cutting-edge Email Guardian application provides strict security breach protection and data leakage prevention. Contact us to learn more.

Image: VisualHunt.com

Topics: Mortgage Cloud Services cyber security email security data security social networking safety cybersecurity security mobile technology mortgage industry HUD Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Compliance for Mortgage Companies Compliance Audit Housing Market network safety MBA

Business Data Security and Multi-Factor Authentication

 240_F_122590781_AfHycyjOI0sOqepiZ1DQVBYkZsH7qlRr.jpg Get an extra level of security with multi-factor authentication or MFA.

Each year, cybersecurity gets more complicated.

According to anti-virus developer Panda Security, the amount of malware created by cybercriminals is predicted to grow exponentially with each passing year.

Companies have to face the reality that a security breach has a serious impact on business.

To avoid the distress of company-wide damage control and a PR nightmare, it’s best to make sure security is in good shape.

Real Business Impact

For some businesses, consumer data handling is the main issue.

Financial institutions such as banks and mortgage companies are often targeted by hackers because they house the most personal information.

With major security failures like the Equifax breach of 2017 making international news, the finance industry’s cybersecurity worries are real.

More is at stake than information. A data breach can mean sales losses and a tarnished reputation that lasts for years.

From fines to fraud, there are monetary repercussions as well.

So what is the fastest way to tighten security on cloud-based and traditional networks?

Multi-Factor Authentication

Data breaches in single-factor authentication systems often exploit the system login credentials or passwords of users.

Multi-factor authentication or MFA is a group of security measures that go beyond the traditional password in order to correctly identify a person for system access.

MFA is becoming more prevalent in the financial industry. This kind of authentication was adopted by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PSI DSS) in February of 2017 and was listed as a standard for the mortgage industry in the State of New York in the same year.

Multiple factors mean heightened levels of information that only the user can provide.

These factors can be a number of different security measures. A “soft token” is when security software generates a one-time-use passcode sent to the user’s mobile device. This type of authentication can also be executed with a text message, phone call, or an email with a hyperlink.

Other factors run the gamut from predefined security questions to biometric identifiers like fingerprints or facial recognition software.

Only the correct user knows the information or is in the circumstance to receive the passcode, so using MFA means only the approved user is given access.

The Modern Office

Another issue with security is the modern office environment.

There are a growing number of remote workers. Employees want access to work-related applications from outside the office.

In this mobile workforce, employees are moving off of network-approved computers and onto personal or public machines. It’s up to the IT department to facilitate their work and make sure they go through a heightened level of security checks.

MFA is an authentication strategy that allows IT to deliver this level of remote access. It solves the problem of identifying recognized employees while maintaining a solid defense against intruders.

User Experience

The final consideration when implementing cybersecurity measures is user experience.

With higher scrutiny comes a higher level of annoyance by the employee at having to prove their authorization.

IT staffers need to balance security measures with user convenience.

One development that improves this balance is “adaptive” MFA. This security technology evaluates the risk factor of the user and then adapts the number of factors required for entry to the system.

An employee using a company-issued laptop at a café with an IP address across the street from headquarters is considered a low-risk access attempt. This situation does not require extra security measures.

On the other hand, if someone is trying to gain access on an unrecognized device in a location where the company doesn’t have an office (e.g. employee is attempting to do work on her tablet while vacationing in Bali) then the number of factors required will be at the maximum level. The employee jumps through some hoops, but with an understanding of why.

Conclusion

Data breaches are happening at the enterprise level at an alarming rate. A watchdog organization called Breach Level Index estimates that every second, an average of 57 records are stolen.

Employees are moving towards a more mobile work environment with wide geographic distribution.

For companies who handle consumer data, implementing MFA is simply one of the most effective ways to crack down on security violations and keep up with the modern workplace.

Businesses that use the MortgageWorkspace management software by ABT are protected by multi-factor authentication and a host of other cybersecurity measures. Contact us to learn more.

Topics: social networking safety phishing multi-factor authentication cloud storage mortgage business Compliance for Mortgage Companies Compliance Audit cloud-based data Housing Market Mortgage Lending

Solid Steps to Safeguard Against Meltdown and Spectre

ghjfj.jpgTwo defects threaten computers and devices released on the market since 1995.

Meltdown and Spectre are the names given to two newly-discovered bugs terrorizing computers around the world.

At the sound of such unnerving names, it’s hard for security folks at enterprise-level companies to control the panic.

While protocols for dealing with these threats are still on the drafting board, there are solid steps that companies can take to protect themselves.

What are Meltdown and Spectre?

In early January of 2018, the tech world was rocked by the discovery of two colossal security flaws that affect almost every computer and smart device on the market since 1995.

First announced on January 3rd, the bugs’ initial discoveries are being attributed to Jann Horn at Project Zero, a Google-based program for security analysis.

These two separate flaws were simultaneously being probed and announced by a handful of security experts from around the globe. As bits and pieces came out about the exposures, the gravity of the situation became clearer.

Both Meltdown and Spectre exploit weakness in the CPU of most current machines and all their predecessors dating back to 1995.

Since both faults affect major brand-name processors, it means that desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and servers all contain the defects.

The spooky truth is that they affect a majority of computers in use today.

How They Work

Often linked due to the widespread nature of both flaws and the fact that they were discovered around the same time, they do not work in the same way.

The first defect, Meltdown, is named for what it does to affected devices. It sort of ‘melts’ the wall between applications and the machine’s OS and makes it a devastating entryway for hackers.

The second issue, Spectre, is a named for the process from which hackers are able to steal information—namely ‘speculative execution’.

Speculative execution is the technique whereby your device records your computer activity in an attempt to predict future actions. This process helps your device execute tasks quickly, but the records contain sensitive usage information that shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.

The name also refers to an apparition, which is fitting since companies don’t want intruders ghosting around their private information.

Meltdown affects Intel processors while Spectre affects three kinds of CPU chip: Intel, AMD, and ARM.

Using these newly discovered gateways, popular tech forum Bleeping Computer says, “Malicious program can steal passwords, account information, encryption keys, or theoretically anything stored in the memory of a process.”

Vendors React

In response to the potential devastation, the tech community has seen a wave of security advisories and patches to deal with the bugs.

At the pace that vendors are trying to get information out, some have produced conflicting stories: While AMD maintains that its CPUs have a near zero risk of vulnerability, Microsoft quickly pushed out a patch for AMD devices that has caused computers to stop working.

In the haste to calm the masses, it seems some solutions come with problems of their own.

Beyond the CPU

Browsers are also vulnerable due to these glitches.

Safari came out with a patch in December of 2017 while Microsoft just released patches for IE and Edge. Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is safer to use than older versions, but did not provide further details.

After other vendors bumbled, Google reneged on a patch that was promised for January 23rd. Google’s Chrome browser and OS patch came out Friday the 2nd of February, over a week late.

Adding yet another layer to this confusing frenzy, Anti-Virus programs may be incompatible with some systems (notably Microsoft) so don’t go AV-crazy just yet.

In order to be proactive, here are three solid steps you can take to make sure your company is protected.

  1. Assess Your Risk

Guidelines for action from patches to future fixes are available at each vendor’s site. Your company can build a customized response based on vendor-specific information.

  1. Follow Instructions

Take the recommended steps to mitigate any security risks that would leave your company vulnerable.

A smorgasbord of vendors, from Amazon to Cisco, has released advisories to protect their clients and business partners from dangerous activity.

It’s up to your company’s security team to follow instructions based on the software and hardware that your system uses.

  1. Hold Out for More Information

Unfortunately, these bugs were publicly announced recently. The scramble to provide permanent answers is on.

The best thing to do after the initial patch scare is to await further details and instruction from the tech security community.

Businesses protected by ABT’s monitoring service Network Guardian receive monthly reports detailing security threats. Contact us to learn more.

Image: VisualHunt.com

Topics: mortgage documents mortgage business mortgage industry cloud-based data Mortgage Lending disaster recovery malware network intel spectre meltdown network safety

Cloud Storage Reduces IT Costs and Improves Scalability for Mortgage Companies


Mobile phone in hand

Those of you who've worked in the mortgage industry for the last two decades know how much has changed in just the last five years. Technologies have evolved quickly to provide more ways to accomplish tasks, including superior organization. Despite this, you've perhaps balked on finding ways to reduce your IT costs. Doing things the same way is perhaps hard to break after being in business for over 20 years.

Don't become complacent, because many IT solutions are affordable and necessary.  Security should be paramount when storing client information.  Today's software is being written to comply with the latest regulatory requirements and not all of it is expensive either.

With a rise in cloud and mobile technologies, you can do so much more while paying less. The same goes with scalability.

Using Automation to Improve Client Communication

When you look at the biggest challenges facing mortgage organizations like yours, client communication is at the top of the list. In a time when you likely have to compete with other lending agencies a short distance away, you need to keep your clients loyal.

The way forward is to use automation to gain efficiency. The older methods of reaching your clients only by phone can frequently lead to delays. Consider other communication methods, texting for example may be the best way to shorten the business cycle.    

Automating your communication will allow you to reach your clients faster and provide the ability to personalize content for more sucessful lead generation. Through affordable mobile technology and automation, you can send information at key times to your existing or prospective clients. Doing so educates them on their mortgage options.

Using the Cloud for Data Storage and Retrieval

We noted a while ago that cloud security is the future of all mortgage companies. After saying this over two years ago, it's a fact now, and a must to prepare for the unexpected.

Considering on-site servers can easily become hacked, you need to upgrade to the cloud to keep yourself compliant with client data. While cloud pricing varies depending on needs, it still reduces cost because you're eliminating maintenance on your own servers.

During disasters, you're also preparing yourself for business continuity. You can access anything in the cloud 24/7 as long as you have an Internet connection. When a disaster strikes, you can retrieve all client information immediately to keep your lending business on its feet.

The Use of Mobile Apps to Simplify the Lending Process

Many home buyers want to simplify how they obtain a mortgage without all the protracted steps. Creating a mobile app to make the process easier helps remove complex steps otherwise increasing your operating costs.

An app gives your clients more control over the time it takes to get a loan and the terms they want. Despite apps requiring design time, they'll pay off long-term thanks by increasing business and gaining your customers' trust.

Transparency is an important aspect to lending today. Allowing this through mobile technology is essential, as long as you have quality IT management in place.

Scaling Your Mortgage Company

To keep up with demands, you can do a lot of practical things to scale your mortgage business. If you're short on clients, Zillow reminds using CRM software can often help connect better with potential customers. Also redesigning your website and starting a blog can get home buyers more interested.

During times when you just need to find room to expand data, the cloud can scale quickly for you. This eliminates having to depend on other risky storage methods. When you want to scale due to unexpected growth, you can do so with the cloud, plus still have room for further growth down the road.

At Access Business Technologies, we provide game-changing technologies and tools to help your mortgage business reduce costs while still growing. Our MortgageWorkspace product allows you to scale quickly and securely by putting your business into the cloud. It offers efficient ways to keep your data compliant using intuitive dashboards and admin tools. Learn more about how MortageWorkspace can make the mortgage process easier for your employees and customers by scheduling a call with us. 

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Topics: Compliance Cloud Mortgage Servicing Cloud Computing MortgageWorkSpace cloud storage

Leverage Your Cloud Software for a More Efficient Workflow

 

Mortgage-WorkSpace-cloud-solutions.jpg

Making the most of your mortgage software for an efficient workflow is an admirable goal. However, it’s not enough to have this goal; you have to know how to make it come to fruition. Read on to discover different ways to do this. But first, it’s important to understand the role of your software.

Mortgage Software

Your software should improve the borrower's experience when applying for a mortgage. It should also improve the efficacy of the your company’s internal operations.

Softwareor any tool you use—is not an added benefit to the mortgage process, however, if it adds unnecessary steps to the employee's workload and slows down the workflow.

We need it to meet the needs of lenders, including the demands imposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Board's regulatory schemes. When it is successful, mortgage software plays to the your company’s strengths. It fills in gaps where there would typically be deficiencies. And, perhaps most difficult of all, it predicts regulatory requirements.

Understanding Your Organizational Workflow

Learning how mortgage software can improve your workflow and how to select the right product requires an intense evaluation of the two processes that make up the workflow.

  • internal operations
  • borrower experience

Internal Operations

Each mortgage application has the same basic stages (although additional requirements may attach for specific loans). Organizations need to understand, by evaluating and analyzing the processes, how they operate in each of the stages described below:

  • pre-qualification
  • application
  • verification
  • processing
  • underwriting
  • closing

Managers probably have their own ideas of how their companies may improve the various stages. After all, it is not always a one-size-fits-all solution. It is important to evaluate these stages not only in terms of legacy processes but also in terms of how they might improve through the use of cloud technology.

The analysis of a workflow provides an opportunity to review compliance efforts and see where automation or cloud technology can help improve compliance. An added benfefit is that it may even save time and money.

A prime example is the three-day disclosure rule. A tool that automatically sends disclosure information within the three-day disclosure window may eliminate human errors (inconsistencies) and speed up the process at the same time. Cloud software applications may save time by verifying data provided by borrowers against aggregate databases.

Your analysis will show where you have bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and duplication of effort. When you look at the workflow priorities together with the organization's strategic goals, the type of software that works best for the organization will become apparent.

The Borrower's Experience

The digital mortgage is coming to the industry. For a business that has relied on face-to-face communication with borrowers and a significant paper trail, it may seem a difficult transition. There are, however, many ways that technology can improve the borrower experience. In fact, borrowers may move easier in that direction than lenders.

On-demand services in other consumer areas has led borrowers to expect faster service from elsewhere in their lives, including what is typically considered the largest purchase of a person’s life - home buying. The process will never match push-button, instant satisfaction like other consumer service areas, because of the compliance aspect. Technology, however, can help in two ways.

  • Transparency through on-line dashboards, mobile applications, and other self-serve features
  • Access to loan data through digitally managed and delivered documents, and a holistic view of their data helps borrowers feel they have a better handle on their loans

MortgageWorkSpace®

This powerful cloud-based portal from Access Business Technologies provides your teams the freedom from the paper chase that they want, but with the control they need over internal workflow and compliance processes. With Mortgage WorkSpace offers your company the abilities to manage documentation, software applications, devices and security all from within the portal. Additionally, it includes Office 365 Mortgage, giving you the advantages of Office 365 but built specifically for the mortgage industry.

To learn more about how cloud-based solutions can make your mortgage company more efficient, please contact us.



 

Topics: MortgageWorkSpace

Why You Shouldn't Ignore Security Updates for Your Devices

Security Updates are Important for DevicesDid you know that 98% of cyber attacks can be stopped simply by keeping your devices up-to-date?  Our lives seem to be moving faster as we advance our technologies. Sometimes, we don’t like to even stop for the most minor of tasks. For instance - that notification about the need to update your mobile device that you find a little annoying. And then you do what most people do - ignore it. You know it’s inevitable and has to be done, but you just keep swiping to delay it because now just isn’t a good time. Don’t let that one-day delay turn into an eternity or you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Furthermore, these updates aren’t exclusive to your smartphones. Your tablets, laptops, desktops, browsers, and even certain types of software need to be updated at regular intervals. Let's explore why you should keep everything up to date, on your iPhones and beyond.

With all Apple products, there are security vulnerability updates across the spectrum of its products. Even if your devices are running fine now, don’t ignore these. Additionally, remember to update you iTunes on your Windows desktop and laptop computers.

Did you know that there is a feature on most of today's computers that will automatically keep your their software up to date? If you run a Windows-based machine, it's as easy as going to Start>Control Panel>Automatic Updating. If you operate a Mac computer, you can go to the "Apple Menu" and select "Software Update." Under the "Schedule" tab, make sure to click "Check for Updates" and "Download Updates Automatically."  Or better yet there are tools that make it easy to keep ALL your employee devices up-to-date easily.

Why is keeping up to date such a big deal? Software manufacturers are endlessly fixing bugs, updating drivers for new devices, and making improvements on the software that you use every day. Updating your system will improve the reliability, security, and speed of your computer or handheld device.

As we mentioned above, the most important reason to keep your devices updated is security. There are vulnerabilities in almost all software systems; it’s not a matter of if, but when, someone will figure these out. Did you know that companies, such as Google and Apple, actually have employees whose jobs are to hack into their own operating system? Their objective each day is to discover and address their own system weaknesses before cyber criminals do.

Sometimes an update will indicate what it will fix or improve a function. Usability and add-ons are often included, but they aren’t the most important reason to update your devices. So just because they don’t always come with cool or exciting “improvements and bug fixes” you still need to set to make it a regular habit to update sooner than later. The idea is to make your operating systems or software difficult or impossible to be hacked into, which in turn might make your personal information vulnerable to cyber thieves.

And while we are on the subject of staying up to date with technology, make sure that your antivirus is consistently up-to-date.

Mac users, you may not need to worry about antivirus software as much as Microsoft users. This is because only 10 percent of all computers are Macs, making Macs an unlikely target for viruses, as there aren't as many out there.

Microsoft users, you need to be strong in your antivirus game. Like your computers, most antivirus software has an option for automatic updates.

If you’ve never experienced a catastrophic device failure or data breach, consider yourself lucky. However, know that the statistics for cyber criminals are only growing:

The best way to protect your company’s data across multiple devices--work or personal--is with the DeviceGuardian™ tool from Access Business Technologies.  DeviceGuardian is specifically designed for the kinds of updates needed in the Mortgage Industry.This automated powerful product allows mortgage company employees to use their own personal devices for work while keeping company data secure and compliant with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It works easily on all existing and new devices, and is just one more surefire way ABT can manage all security updates so your mortgage company is protected from pervasive and ongoing cyber threats.
Topics: Access Business Technologies

Trump Administration’s Long- and Short-term Impacts on Housing Market

 

Trump Administration’s Long- and Short-term Impacts on Housing Market

The Long- and Short-term Impacts of Trump’s Housing Market Policies

Each time a new administration comes into office--whether the same political party or not--there will always be changes. Political leaders are not elected because they support the status quo, but generally because they want to shake things up. Their policy changes can often shift an entire economic sector, such as the housing market. President Trump’s new policies are already changing the borrowing and lending of mortgage funds.

As with political processes and policymaking in any country, some people will benefit and some will lose. There will never exist a one-size-fits-all policy. Here is what U.S. residents can expect going forward with Trump administration's changes/policies regarding housing.

Upholding the FHA's Annual Mortgage Insurance Premium

Lowering the mortgage insurance premiums is part of what Obama had been focusing on toward the end of his administration. Some low-income citizens, looking to purchase a home, were hoping to benefit from the enactment of that policy. However, the Trump administration has decided to suspend the mortgage premium fee reduction. What does this mean?

Short-term impact

  • When the Obama administration announced its plan to decrease the annual mortgage rate in early January, many lower-income individuals signed up, which caused a spike in FHA applications. With the premiums no longer being offered at a lower rate, many of these requests will either be withdrawn or rejected.
  • There will be fewer new FHA order applications as well as fewer FHA refinance applications.
  • The fee reduction, for FHA-backed loans, would have cut 0.25 percentage points of the total amount borrowed. Savings for Americans with a $100,00 mortgage would have been about $250, and for a $200,000 mortgage it would have equated to about $500 in savings each year. With the suspension of this fee cut, new homeowners will have to find other ways to save.

Long-term impact

  • The overall cost of owning a home will increase.
  • After a pullback of the housing market rates during Obama’s presidential terms, mortgage rates are expected to rise.
  • Affordability for low- to mid-income individuals and couples will decrease over time as the housing costs rise alongside housing demand.
  • Suspension of the rate cut of the FHA is indefinite, which may eventually help the FHA due to higher premiums and higher demand for housing.

Controlling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Reformation of Wall Street practices is part of the reason the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created. The aspect of independence of this agency begs many ongoing questions. With the CFPB under the control of the new administration, its agenda will be determined by the decisions of current policy makers.

Short-term impact

  • Currently, there are claims that the body is unconstitutional. Even so, the president exercises control over the agency. The CFPB will not be used in the same way it was during the Obama administration, and as such, it may not act as an independent regulatory body.

Long-term impact

  • The issue of legality of the CFPB remains a court case at the moment, even as Trump's administration exercises power to control the housing sector through this body.
Home ownership has long been a part of the American Dream. While some critics believe Trump’s changes to housing will only make this dream more challenging for some, there are others who believe this cut will benefit taxpayers in the long run, especially if the country experiences another housing market crash as it did in 2008. Trump’s order to suspend the fee reduction will not affect current mortgage holders from making their existing payments, but it might prevent some people from taking the leap into home ownership. It’s important to note that even with a new administration and different policies put in place, there are other factors that affect the markets. For housing, this will always be tied strongly to supply and demand, home interest rates, and inflation.
Topics: FHA Trump Administration Housing Market Mortgage Lending

3 Tools to Avoid Compliance Risks with Data and Electronic Documents

Compliance-Risk-with-Data-and-Electronic-Documents.jpg

Picture this. Your company has decided to provide end-to-end mortgage services for a new client. To make document sharing easier, you activate a remote login account so that they can have access to consumer reports. Hackers gain access on the client's end, steal the remote login credentials, and grab sensitive information. Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical situation.

This happened to a mortgage lender back in 2008. 2008? That was 9 years ago, yet the FTC still uses this case as one of their prime examples of a security lesson taught the hard way. This company didn't protect vital data, and the FTC is strictly auditing them until the year 2028!

This is what can happen when your mortgage company creates compliance risks with data and electronic documents. It's a lot cheaper, we'd say, to invest in better data security than to lose the goodwill of your customers and have to defend yourself legally and face other consequences connected with a data breach.

Here's what you need for maximum security and full compliance.

Office 365 Mortgage™

With Office 365 Mortgage™, you are using all of the productivity features that Office 365 offers. Plus, it's configured to work right alongside your mortgage software for maximum security. How does it keep data safe?

  • One Password, One Portal - Users have secure, single-sign-on access, which helps combat issues that revolve around password reuse and other weaknesses. When you hire someone, there is only one account and password to set up, and when someone leaves, you only have one account and one password to delete.

  • Rest Easy With Built-In Security - Microsoft gives you three layers of security and also guards your business email with industry-leading anti-spam and anti-malware defense.

  • Prevent Data Theft - Security is a priority at Microsoft data centers, but simply deploying Office 365 straight out of the box cannot single-handedly keep your data safe. Mortgage businesses need additional layers of protection. This is why we step in and use complex configurations and custom-written software to make Office 365 Mortgage™ exceed banking standards.

MortgageExchange®

Mortgage companies typically rely on human intervention to determine inconsistencies in their paperwork. Two or three different people will either enter the data into a system to cross-check against each other for inconsistencies; or, businesses will use OCR systems to automatically recognize text and numbers. Both of these methods require a certain amount of human intervention to audit inconsistencies, perform exception processing, and control data quality.

MortgageExchange® eliminates the need to re-key data between origination, servicing, core systems, and accounting. In this way, you seamlessly connect people, processes, partners, and information across dissimilar systems, while eradicating data re-entry, costly errors, and security issues at the same time.

Errors in documents can be as simple as a name misspelled or a wrong number in an address, or as serious as incorrect loan amounts or missing pages. All of these errors cause delays in closing, and incorrect loan amounts can have major consequences for the downstream systems processing the loan.

DocumentGuardian

DocumentGuardian is a comprehensive document management system designed specifically for the mortgage industry. It is a cloud-based email service that provides secured encryption and transfer of files, pictures, and documents.

It starts by providing the borrower with a secure and easy way to send their NPI (Non-Public Information) documents without registering or creating a password. Compliance auditors recommend this type of security because, unlike box-type file sharing apps, it stores your documents in our secure data center only; not on individual computers and mobile devices.

Unfortunately, mortgage companies and financial institutions are still extremely vulnerable. With threats growing bigger every day, it is now more critical than ever for businesses to develop an information security plan and make sure that their vendors and other third-parties are covered too.

The non-profit Online Trust Alliance (OTA) warns that the "cyber landscape has changed dramatically just over the past 12 months," with organizations both large and small being the victims of attacks. Housingwire Magazine reports that numerous mortgage companies are now increasing security because of these significant incidents:

  • Thieves walked away with $80 million in 2016 during a cyber attack at the Federal Reserve.
  • 2017 started out with London-based Lloyds Banking Group experiencing a two-day-long distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Employee breaches are also happening. In 2016, a jury awarded Mount Olympus Mortgage Company (MOMC) more than $25 million for their claims against Guaranteed Rate, another mortgage lender. These claims alleged that Guaranteed Rate, along with former employees of MOMC, illegally transferred hundreds of loan files from MOMC's internal systems to Guaranteed Rate's.

In today’s digital world, it is more important than ever to protect vital information and documents from these cyber thieves—both internally and externally—and to stay compliant with industry regulations that are becoming more stringent in response. Please contact us today at Access Business Technologies to learn more.
Topics: Compliance data management for mortgage companies data security

Working Together: ABT's Partnerships in the Mortgage Industry

partnerships-in-the-mortgage-industry.jpgNo business can exist in a vacuum. The success of any business relies on the cooperation of dedicated professionals, both within and without. Today we're going to look at some of ABT's partnerships in the mortgage industry and the ways in which those partnerships have helped make ABT, and the mortgage industry at large, better.

1. BNTouch

As the makers of True Mortgage CRM, BNTouch provides mortgage lenders around the globe with the customer service tools to respond swiftly and accurately to urgent needs. Here at ABT, we have, for years, enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership between our sales team and theirs.

2. Calyx Software

Calyx specializes in creating custom software solutions for mortgage companies, designed to see lenders through the entire lending process. Our partnership with Calyx began well over a decade ago, in 2002, when Calyx discovered they needed a better, more reliable hosting partner. Upon visiting our data center and speaking to us at length, Calyx decided to turn to ABT for their online presence, and they have stayed with us ever since.

3. Cimarron Software

Another top-notch CRM, Cimarron Mortgage Manager gives mortgage providers a low-cost, total customer service solution. For many years, our sales teams have enjoyed our ongoing partnership with Cimarron.

4. ComplianceEase

ComplianceEase offers information and apps to train mortgage professionals, check loans for compliance, and create extensive reports on current and potential loans. We are proud to partner with ComplianceEase by creating and supporting a joint MortgageExchange project to feed their Compliance engine.

5. DocMagic and Docutech

The mortgage process requires a lot of paperwork, and these two partners offer solutions to get the correct paperwork for the job. Through the course of these two partnerships, we have helped establish a connection between the origination platform and the document platform, and between new loans and the paperwork needed to complete them.

6. Ellie Mae

One of the mainstays of the mortgage industry in the United States, Ellie Mae likely requires no introduction, processing approximately a quarter of all U.S. mortgages via their proprietary applications. For many years, we have been the proud hosting provider for Ellie Mae's core Encompass compliance security application, for both its server and its client software.

7. D+H

Another provider of end-to-end mortgage services, D+H specializes in the financial side of financing. Our partnership with D+H will center on their use of software dedicated to streamlining payments and related services. In particular, we have for years worked with Interlinq loan service software and with Ultradata software for credit unions, both recent software acquisitions by D+H.

8. Microsoft

Another partner that likely requires no introduction, Microsoft is a staple of the business world, providing network infrastructure options and support around the globe. We have maintained a Gold Partnership with Microsoft for many years now, as well as a Cloud Services Partnership. As a Microsoft partner, we have access to the technology and professionals that are key to driving the future of IT service within the mortgage industry and beyond.

9. Cenlar and Dovenmuehle

Often working behind the scenes of the loan process, lending service providers form the backbone that hold the industry together with expertise and professionalism. We are proud to work closely with service providers like Cenlar and Dovenmuehle to get mortgage providers the assistance they need throughout the lending process.

10. Byte Software

Loan origination security compliance is a challenge for all mortgage providers. Loan origination software solutions, like those provided by Byte, give lenders the streamlined security of getting the correct paperwork completed in-line with existing government regulations. In our relationship with loan origination platforms like Byte, we help to exchange ideas, solutions, and support crucial to the mortgage industry as a whole.

No man is an island, and neither is any business. This list of business partners is far from complete, but it does give a general idea of the work we do and the people who help us get it done.

Are you a player in the mortgage industry looking for a new business partner? Do you have questions about how ABT can help you? Contact us today to learn more about our offerings and how we might work together to better serve mortgage professionals.

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Topics: ABT partnerships