Mortgage Software Solutions Blog

Disaster Recovery: How Long Can Your Company Survive Without Being Able to Operate?

Your business can implement the most sound measures to prepare for every eventuality and still be sidelined by a disaster beyond anyone's control. Some of these are human in nature -  mistakes from your IT specialists, crashed systems, team miscommunication. Others are completely unpredictable such as, natural disasters, power outages, and more. Disaster recovery helps you prepare for those frustrating occurrences by providing a clear, concise plan of action to follow in order to maintain, or recover vital business processes, even in the midst of an outage. This subset of business continuity is critical to your overall plan to maintain your IT functionality and stay in business.

If Your Technology Isn't Functioning, You're Hemorrhaging Money

Every minute that your employees are unable to work is costly. Not only are your salaried employees still receiving pay whether they're able to work or not, you're missing out on potential business. And, the longer it takes you to get up and running again, the more business opportunities will right past your company and on to your competition. Furthermore, there's the cost of lost data, machines that have been destroyed, and the technical manpower necessary to bring it all up again. In short, not being able to recover from a disaster can equate to a financial disaster.

Creating Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Think through the most essential technology at your business. This might be software or other vital programs that you can’t do business without. Are your employees reliant on an internal network that contains important business data, or can they function smoothly from their laptops while you focus on bringing up other systems? Make sure that your disaster recovery plan includes:

  • Contingency plans for the various subsets of your technology that could go down, such as, loss of your data center versus a natural disaster that temporarily knocks out power at your business's primary location.
  • A smooth plan of action for every member of the team, including who is expected to complete certain specific responses and at what times. This will prevent too many people from trying to do the same tasks, while other tasks are left unattended.
  • A plan for restoring your most important data, should it be lost due to human error or disaster. This might include where your backups are kept (ideally offsite from your primary business location) or how they will be restored in the event of a disaster.
  • A full inventory of all your vital systems that will enable you to quickly and smoothly replace the hardware your business needs in order to function smoothly.
  • Full backup of all your software, data, and apps so that no matter where you are, you can flip a switch and continue to run your business as if no disaster has occurred.

In certain areas of the country you might know when certain natural disasters are more likely to happen, such as tornadoes in the Midwest or hurricanes on the East Coast. Even with this, your business should be prepared for anything to happen at any time, whether natural or manmade. By developing a clear, concise disaster recovery plan with elements for all contingencies, however, you'll discover that you can have your business running smoothly again in no time.

The Benefits of a Disaster Recovery Plan

If you've had the attitude in the past that you would deal with a disaster when and if it arrived, it's time to change your perspective! Proactively developing your disaster recovery plan now--when you aren't in trouble--has a number of benefits for your business.

  • You retain higher levels of customer trust, since they know they can count on you even in the event of a disaster
  • You're able to get your business up and running again fast, rather than fumbling around for a solution
  • Everyone on your team knows what's expected of them in the event of a disaster
  • You're able to keep your business running from anywhere, loading all of your vital software and data to another location just by flipping a switch.

Businesses that aren’t actively operating are not in business, which means lost revenue and high amounts of stress for your personnel and clients. A solid disaster recovery plan will help minimize or even eliminate your downtime.

At Access Business Technologies, we use Amazon and Microsoft Azure's cloud technology, among our own data centers in two different locations. This means that if one goes down, you're able to continue to access your data from the other site. We also harness the power of Microsoft's business continuity program, which allows you to quickly and smoothly transfer the processing power needed for many of your applications in the event of a disaster. If creating a disaster recovery plan seems like a daunting task or you want to see if yours is viable, contact us to learn how we can help with our suite of versatile cloud services.
Topics: Access Business Technologies ABT Data Centers disaster recovery

Why Mortgage Companies Need Built-In Compliance Tools

blog pic for Why Mortgage Companies Need Built-InBusiness data is available at your fingertips, but is it protected?

If your mortgage company isn’t talking about advanced data governance, you’ve missed the memo.

Mortgage companies around the world are facing 2018 with a regulatory backlash as a result of data breaches in the US and Europe.

Every company is scrambling to find the best cybersecurity options for financial data and figure out how to comply with stringent reporting regulations at the same time.

How can your mortgage company ensure that you are up-to-date with the newest industry standards in data governance?

Bolt-On vs. Built-In Data Governance

There are two types of compliance tools that financial institutions can use to follow the law.

Bolt-on refers to compliance tools that a business implements to interact with their existing computer-based financial systems.

Built-in refers to governance features that are part of the same computer system that they use to do their daily business activities including customer retention, storage, and database systems.

Bolt-on tools are a non-integrated option from the first wave of computer data compliance. Systems with built-in compliance features and built-in threat protection are the modern solution to meeting compliance standards.

Built-In Compliance Runs at the Speed of Business

The main issue with bolt-on tools is that they lack the visibility necessary to maintain compliance and keep moving at the pace of the company. For example, when working with outside vendors, mortgage companies are responsible for verifying vendor security.

The legal industry reports that using bolt-on tools can delay the on boarding of third-party vendors for up to 17 days and slow down overall revenue growth. Built-in options, due to being native to the system, move faster.

Built-ins can also coordinate with IT permissions on devices such as laptops and tablets used by third-party employees to access sensitive data. They offer high interactivity while bolt-on tends to offer single-process patches for cybersecurity issues.

As regulatory agencies push for never-before-seen requirements, bolt-on solutions don’t make financial sense anymore.

The True Cost of Built-On Compliance

Though switching to a new system is an investment, bolt-on solutions are actually more expensive in the end. The incremental investment is limitless; each new regulation requires a new patch.  

Instead, built-in systems work backwards by going all-in. They offer extreme security features that allow a company to scale back to the compliance limit.

Bolt-on solutions also cost man-hours. It creates busy work for employees who handle information instead of receiving a completed system report. When you factor in confusion and redundancy, the hours start to add up.

In the US, a time lag in reporting can mean trouble. New York State is blazing the trail for new cybersecurity regulations by mandating that mortgage companies have less than 72 hours to officially report a cyber attack or else face financial penalties.

With a built-in system, alerts are immediate and coverage is full from day one. Your financial services institution is protected from the risk associated with litigation and data breach.

Built-In Protection from Data Loss

ABT, a California-based company, has developed a platform for mortgage companies with built-in compliance tools called MortgageWorkSpace.

Systems like this take compliance out of employees’ hands and create strict policies that are enforced by the platform itself.

Since financial institutions are legally required to hold onto sensitive customer data for specific periods of time, a system like this allows the company to write the retention policy directly into the document management system. The system itself identifies, tags, and protects data for archive, even by custom query.

Integrated Security Features

Built-in systems have other data protection features that connect with employee activity.

For example, Felipe the Finance Director receives an email addressed from Ciara the COO but doesn’t notice that it isn’t from her company email address. Because the company email is integrated with the cybersecurity system, Felipe sees an alert that the sender’s email address is suspect and likely a phishing attempt.

Even if Felipe opens the email and clicks on an unsafe link, the system will take Felipe to a safe link where he is alerted again not to proceed. This type of security safety net is possible because built-in security can transparently see activity system-wide and isn’t limited to a single platform.

Built-in security tools helps catch phishing links, unsafe attachments, unsafe webpage links, malware, and spam so that breaches are prevented.

As data governance regulations increase in almost every global financial market, mortgage companies can remain compliant by implementing cybersecurity measures that are fast, transparent, complete, and save the company money in the long run.

The best way to meet these ever-rising regulations is to get outfitted with a platform that handles compliance as a built-in feature of the system.

MortgageWorkSpace is a business solution that allows mortgage companies to comply with full industry requirements regarding sensitive data. Learn more about cybersecurity for mortgage companies by visiting ABT.

Image: Unsplash

Topics: Mortgage Servicing in the Cloud Access Business Technologies MortgageExchange cyber security information security for mortgage companies DeviceGuardian MortgageWorkSpace data security mortgage company security financial data security multi-factor authentication Business Intelligence cybersecurity mortgage industry cloud-based data Housing Market

Why Archives are Important for your Mortgage Business

WhyArchivingIsImportant .jpg

What image comes to mind when someone mentions archives? Dusty file cabinets in a basement or buried and mislabeled folders on your desktop are two common ideas of what archiving is. There is much more involved with archiving than meets the eye. First of all, an archive is more than a backup. It has to meet three requirements to do its job:

  • Availability. It has to be in a form that makes it easy to recover needed information. A disorganized pile of records isn't an archive, whether it's physical or digital. The design has to meet the business's future needs. This means anticipating the kinds of requests people will need to make. The home mortgage Records Retention Program requires retaining some kinds of information for years and reporting it.
  • Security. Mortgage files contain sensitive personal information. Letting it into the wrong hands can lead to serious liability. The FTC's Safeguard Rule requires financial institutions to protect consumer information, and it defines “financial institution” broadly. Malicious alteration or deletion can make an archive useless. Only authorized people should have access, and they should have only the access they need to do their jobs.
  • Permanence. It's often necessary to keep records for years. They have to last longer than any particular storage device. They will need to be readable in the future, regardless of any changes in software. Avoiding “data rot” requires good design from the start. An archive needs ongoing maintenance to make sure nothing quietly becomes unusable.

How does this apply to your mortgage business? Keeping mortgage-related data safe and readily accessible is essential for smooth operations. A complicated array of legal requirements mandates data retention. Fannie Mae requires permanent mortgage records, along with long-term retention of other documents. You may also have an obligation to maintain records relating to credit decisions.

It generally isn't necessary to keep hard copy records, as long as all required information is available in a digital form. Keeping information in electronic form saves space and — when properly maintained and backed up — is safer from physical damage.

Keeping Data Available and Secure

Keeping data available is tricky, because it can’t just be open to everyone. The same applies to security, in that while being safe is good, it still needs to be accessible, or otherwise it’s useless. The requirements pull in two directions. It's necessary to retain information and report it when required by law, but it's equally important to keep confidential data out of the wrong hands. Doing everything right isn't easy. Consider hiring professionals to manage your data for you.

With the cloud-based platform EmailGuardian from Access Business Technologies you can archive internal and external emails in a highly secure archive and keep data safe for all current and future employees. When shopping around for companies to handle your data, the following shoud be considerations. 

  • Attachments are secure 100% of the time with encryption, password protection, and custom expiration dates
  • Large files are archived according to retentiion policies
  • File audit tracking is easy, from a central administration console
  • Data Leak Prevention ensures compliance with corporate policies
  • A complrehensive set of eDiscovery and compliance features can be applied to all data

Data centers around the world keep information like this safe against any single point of failure. Users can view archived mail directly from Microsoft Outlook, and they can set retention rules to control what's archived and what's deleted.

ABT data centers offer Azure-based cloud backup and archiving. This approach reduces the amount of time you have to spend maintaining your archive and protects it against on-premises disasters. Scaling the archive as your business grows is easy. Retrieving stored data is straightforward.

Data Safety

A reliable archive provides multiple benefits. It allows your mortgage business to always be prepared for the unexpected. If your office sustains damage from a natural or man-made disaster, or if the employee who “knows everything” leaves, archived information is your way to continue operations as if none of the above happened.You and your clients can't afford to wait for you to recover data from a myriad of possible locations when it comes down to it. Keeping your data safe from physical breaches shouldn't be your only concerns. Bottom line - properly archiving your information allows it to be available when you need it, and where you need it, regardless of outside factors. 

Data drives business nowadays. When everything necessary is securely archived, it isn't necessary to rely on memory and guessing or to waste time searching different collections of records.

Aside from unpredictable disasters that can set you back, your business needs to be confident with all of its legal compliances. When you need to provide data for an audit or any other time, your data needs to be there. Archiving in the mortgage industry is more important than it is in many others due to the legalities, duration, and complexity of the information that is shared. Using the right products to manage your company's data could make the difference in whether you stay in business for years to come. 
Topics: Access Business Technologies

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

Disaster Recovery: How Long Can Your Company Survive Without Being Able to Operate?

Your business can implement the most sound measures to prepare for every eventuality and still be sidelined by a disaster beyond anyone's control. Some of these are human in nature -  mistakes from your IT specialists, crashed systems, team miscommunication. Others are completely unpredictable such as, natural disasters, power outages, and more. Disaster recovery helps you prepare for those frustrating occurrences by providing a clear, concise plan of action to follow in order to maintain, or recover vital business processes, even in the midst of an outage. This subset of business continuity is critical to your overall plan to maintain your IT functionality and stay in business.

If Your Technology Isn't Functioning, You're Hemorrhaging Money

Every minute that your employees are unable to work is costly. Not only are your salaried employees still receiving pay whether they're able to work or not, you're missing out on potential business. And, the longer it takes you to get up and running again, the more business opportunities will right past your company and on to your competition. Furthermore, there's the cost of lost data, machines that have been destroyed, and the technical manpower necessary to bring it all up again. In short, not being able to recover from a disaster can equate to a financial disaster.

Creating Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Think through the most essential technology at your business. This might be software or other vital programs that you can’t do business without. Are your employees reliant on an internal network that contains important business data, or can they function smoothly from their laptops while you focus on bringing up other systems? Make sure that your disaster recovery plan includes:

  • Contingency plans for the various subsets of your technology that could go down, such as, loss of your data center versus a natural disaster that temporarily knocks out power at your business's primary location.
  • A smooth plan of action for every member of the team, including who is expected to complete certain specific responses and at what times. This will prevent too many people from trying to do the same tasks, while other tasks are left unattended.
  • A plan for restoring your most important data, should it be lost due to human error or disaster. This might include where your backups are kept (ideally offsite from your primary business location) or how they will be restored in the event of a disaster.
  • A full inventory of all your vital systems that will enable you to quickly and smoothly replace the hardware your business needs in order to function smoothly.
  • Full backup of all your software, data, and apps so that no matter where you are, you can flip a switch and continue to run your business as if no disaster has occurred.

In certain areas of the country you might know when certain natural disasters are more likely to happen, such as tornadoes in the Midwest or hurricanes on the East Coast. Even with this, your business should be prepared for anything to happen at any time, whether natural or manmade. By developing a clear, concise disaster recovery plan with elements for all contingencies, however, you'll discover that you can have your business running smoothly again in no time.

The Benefits of a Disaster Recovery Plan

If you've had the attitude in the past that you would deal with a disaster when and if it arrived, it's time to change your perspective! Proactively developing your disaster recovery plan now--when you aren't in trouble--has a number of benefits for your business.

  • You retain higher levels of customer trust, since they know they can count on you even in the event of a disaster
  • You're able to get your business up and running again fast, rather than fumbling around for a solution
  • Everyone on your team knows what's expected of them in the event of a disaster
  • You're able to keep your business running from anywhere, loading all of your vital software and data to another location just by flipping a switch.

Businesses that aren’t actively operating are not in business, which means lost revenue and high amounts of stress for your personnel and clients. A solid disaster recovery plan will help minimize or even eliminate your downtime.

At Access Business Technologies, we use Amazon and Microsoft Azure's cloud technology, among our own data centers in two different locations. This means that if one goes down, you're able to continue to access your data from the other site. We also harness the power of Microsoft's business continuity program, which allows you to quickly and smoothly transfer the processing power needed for many of your applications in the event of a disaster. If creating a disaster recovery plan seems like a daunting task or you want to see if yours is viable, contact us to learn how we can help with our suite of versatile cloud services.
Topics: Access Business Technologies ABT Data Centers disaster recovery

Ransomware Alert: Don't Become a Victim of WannaCry Malware!

 

Ransomware Alert: Don't Become a Victim of WannaCry Malware!

You may have heard by now about the huge--global in scope--ransomware attack that happened May 12th and endured for three days into the following week. It's the largest ransomware attack to date, and has caused quite an uproar in the business world, disrupting and even dismantling some operations. What determines the severity of this attack, and others, for individual organizations? Vulnerabilities. If you don't want to become a victim of WannaCry malware--and nobody should--you need to learn more about the malware itself, and prevention methods. Let's start with a bit of background on WannaCry.

What gave birth to WannaCry Ransomware?

Cyber security experts point the finger at the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA apparently discovered the vulnerability in Microsoft Windows operating systems some time ago and kept the information secret so it could exploit the vulnerability for its own intelligence activities. Earlier this year, a group calling itself ShadowBrokers leaked the code for NSA cyber spy tools, including NSA's hacking tool called EternalBlue, online. It didn't take long before cybercriminals were at work creating WannaCry ransomware. Once the infection got started, the trojan virus infected a certain number of computers and then began to spread like wildfire using the vulnerability in the Windows Server Message Block to infect other computers on the same networks and then to connected networks.

Are all Windows operating systems at risk?

When Microsoft learned of the vulnerability, the company created security patches for all the updated operating systems which it released this past March. For those computers who update their operating systems through Windows Update automatic feature, the vulnerability no longer is an issue. Users can also manually update the security patch. Consider yourself fortunate if you did this.

Before the attack, the problem still was an issue with respect to legacy-operating systems Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003, which are no longer supported by the Microsoft security patches. However, after the attacks were discovered, Microsoft made security patches available to those legacy systems. Users who run one of these legacy systems and have not installed the security patches, should do so immediately, and of course, from a secure server.

A Serious Global Issue

How many computers are we talking about? Within a few hours of the attack the virus affected more than 100 countries and infected more than 200,000 computers. Unlike most viruses, WannaCry did not seem to rely on emails for the initial contact. It does appear that the virus propagated itself once it invaded a certain number of computers and did not rely on users to click on an email.

Where was the attack centered?

Russia and China were hardest hit. Russia's infection spread to 1,000 computers in its Interior Ministry as well as banks and mobile phone systems. In China, however, the virus infected more than 30,000 computers, many of them universities. China is vulnerable to cyber attacks because it encourages the use of pirated software.

The virus infected Federal Express here in the United States in the initial attack but the virus does not appear to have affected any U.S. government systems. The virus attacked telecommunications systems and gas utilities in Spain and France's Renault automobiles had to stop production.

What was the ransomware demand?

The demand and payment make this attack interesting. The virus encrypted files and then sent a screen message demanding $300 worth of Bitcoin. If the ransom remained unpaid after three days, it increased to $600 worth of Bitcoin. After seven days without payment, the ransomware threatened to destroy the encrypted files and all data would disappear forever. Researchers found only three Bitcoin wallets with a total of only about $50,000 in payments. For such a widespread attack, these numbers are quite low. Security experts say the attackers were not set up very well for Bitcoin payments.

Protecting yourself against ransomware

You've heard most of this advice before but it still holds true, and more so when attacks like this occur. Know that they will continue to happen, so just because you weren’t attacked this time, doesn’t mean you won’t be vulnerable in the future. Cybercriminals are often intelligent and quite sophisticated with their attacks, often upping the ante from any previous large-scale ones. You might be familiar with the following, but all across the world people still do these:

  • Don't click on emails if you don't recognize the sender. It’s simple. Just don’t do it.
  • Do not click on unknown attachments. Curiosity gets the best of us, but don’t let it dismantle your entire organization.
  • The same is true for links in emails. They aren’t harmless, and even when they are in an email from a familiar email address, check it!
  • Enable your Windows Update function so that all security patches update when released. This way you won't forget to do it.
  • Perhaps most important of all is to back up files on a separate server from the main computer. Consider backing up to the cloud or using an external drive that unplugs when not in use.
  • Users of legacy Windows operating systems may want to consider upgrading as soon as possible since they are longer supported by Microsoft patches.

Depending on your business type--some are more often targeted--the above will only help limit some attacks. Don’t be that business that thinks you won’t be targeted. Your operating expenses should have a high-priority line item for this type of protection. Why? If your business is severely impacted, nothing else will matter. If you don’t have the manning or systems in place now, consider a cloud-based solution, such as DeviceGuardian™ that can easily be installed on any existing or new devices. This allows Access Business Technologies to securely manage all of your mortgage software, data, and users. The best part of this is that ABT takes one of the most important aspects of your business off your plate, efficiently and effectively managing your data security  without skyrocketing your company’s expenses.  

In other news of the when-it-rains-it-pours variety, DocuSign confirmed today that hackers maliciously accessed a separate non-core system and stole more than 100 million email addresses from the company - only email addresses. The hackers took no personal information or addresses. Just another indication, however, that everyone needs to stay vigilant. Cyber criminals make a living off of your vulnerabilities.

As mentioned earlier, even if you weren’t attacked this time around, it doesn’t mean your company’s backend won’t be targeted next time. To find out how to protect your company from making negative headlines like DocuSign and FedEx contact us. ABT has an internal department that monitors all viruses, scams, malware, ransomware, cyber-attacks, etc. We work closely with hundreds of Microsoft IT security team members and have developed a cyber-security solution that we have successfully executed for more than 500 mortgage companies, banks, and credit unions.
Topics: Access Business Technologies cyber security data security malware

How RESPA And Other Disclosures Can Affect Your Mortgage Business

 

How RESPA And Other Disclosures Can Affect Your Mortgage Business 

More than four decades ago in 1974, the U.S. Congress passed the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). This law required mortgage companies to disclose certain information at various points throughout the real estate settlement process. The purpose for this was to provide buyers with a greater comprehension of the financial impacts of their home buying decisions. It was intended to help improve their decisions by making them more informed consumers.

How does RESPA, GFE, & HUD-1 disclosures affect your mortgage business? To understand this it’s important to know what happens and what is required of lenders at different points throughout the mortgage lending process.

Beginning of Loan Application

When a borrower applies for a loan, the lender must provide the following items:

  • Special Information Booklet, consists of consumer information describing types of services involved in a real estate settlement
  • Good Faith Estimate (GFE), which shows an estimate of the various charges the borrower can expect to pay at settlement and, if the lender requires a specific settlement provider, he or she must disclose it on the GFE. The GFE is a prescribed, standardized form (updated in 2009) that the lender is required to use to provide this financial information so the buyer can make informed decisions.
  • Mortgage Servicing Disclosure Statement, which informs the borrower whether or not the lender intends to service the account or pass it on to another servicing company.

If the lenders do not give the above information at the time the borrower applies for the loan, they must do so within three days of receiving the loan application.

Before the Closing

RESPA requires lenders to disclose all Affiliated Business Arrangements (ABA’s) to the borrower before the transaction settlement date. An ABA means that the lender involved in the real estate transaction has done the following:

  • is in a position to refer the borrower to a service provider
  • has an ownership interest in a particular service provider
  • refers or influences the borrower, to choose that particular service provider

In the above situation, the referring individuals must disclose the ABA to the borrower at the time that they make the referral. Additionally, unless the referral is to someone who will solely represent the interests of the borrower (an attorney, credit reporting agency, or real estate appraiser), the referring person cannot require the borrower to use the referred services.

During the Closing

RESPA requires lenders to provide an initial Escrow Statement that lays out an estimate of the taxes, insurance premiums, and other charges that the borrower can expect to come out of his escrow account during the loan's first 12-month period. The Escrow Statement discloses the amount of the escrow payment and any reserve. In addition to the initial Escrow Statement, the lender must provide an Annual Escrow Statement to the borrower one time each year.

The lender must also provide the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, describing all the real estate settlement charges that apply to both the borrowers and sellers, including any apportionment of costs between both parties. Updated in 2010, HUD-1 is a prescribed, standardized form that HUD requires the lender to use to provide the settlement information.

After the Closing

RESPA requires that a loan servicing company send a Servicing Transfer Statement (STS) to the borrower if the loan servicing company transfers the borrower's loan to another loan servicing company. The borrower must receive the notice 15 days before the transfer effective date. The notice must identify the new loan servicing company, the address, contact information, and the date that the new company will begin to receive payments.

Because of the complexity of sensitive information throughout a mortgage-lending process, your mortgage company can save time, reduce stress, and eliminate costly processing errors with MortgageWorkSpace® from Access Business Technologies. This is a cloud-based powerhouse of a platform that allows you to keep vital documents organized, readily available anywhere at all hours of the day, and ensures 100 percent buyer compliance with the most recent banking standards and the Safeguards Rule. It’s a virtual desktop with 24/7 technical support for your mortgage company’s time-sensitive needs. To learn more about how Access Business Technologies can help you move your mortgage business into the cloud, contact us today.

Topics: Cloud Mortgage Servicing Access Business Technologies ABT's Hosted Mortgage Servicing

Three Key Levels of Mortgage BI

3 Key Levels of Morgtgage BI

 

Managing mortgage data can be incredibly difficult as more and more information is linked to an ever-evolving market. Mortgage BI, a cloud-based business analytics service, can reduce stress involved with implementing a better information-organizing strategy, as it lowers overhead involved in business analysis. This is ideal because it helps increase team productivity by making the most useful information the most visible.

Why hire an outside team of analysts who will be using the mortgage software now available? This data serves an important role in highlighting a company's strengths and weaknesses and is accessible now.

The data is out there, however the tools for accessing it must present organized operational and market analytic metrics based on current market behavior. This is what effective use of Mortgage BI is all about - providing companies with a perspective on management capability and strategy. As each company objective is different, it is critical to know how to do this as it applies individually. While one organization may be in niche real estate markets, others might need mainstream commercial property live data.  Solutions that include an option for access through mobile devices are also essential, assuring that top-level data is always accessible and--more important--usable by CEOs and upper-level management. Management for cloud and hybrid cloud solutions is also a viable need for companies looking to maximize use of data.

Mortgage BI gives companies several essential powerful intelligence levels:

  1. Unique Data

All data that is unique to the specific individual using the software including lending history and other unique assets. Operational data will fall under this and the aggregate data classification. Appraisal volumes, vendor fees and vendor quality can be neatly organized here. Software that takes cognitive fit into consideration is especially important here. The better the fit, and more relevant the data, the more engaged staff will be.

  1. Aggregate Data

Mortgage BI, as it pertains to a lending groups, includes company spreadsheets and statistics. This market data needs to offer refined strategic insights at the aggregate and comparative level. Here the company as a whole is represented, with only the most applicable pieces of data brought together to form a big-picture view for decision makers.

  1. Comparative Analysis

This is a level of data that compares individual data to that of their peers, enabling mortgage companies to better position themselves with their competition. This can also be arranged to provide a view for the specific company's data in comparison to a larger market data set. This level of data was made available at a zip-code level in January 2008. Filters based on mortgage provider and sales performance are invaluable for crafting executive company decisions. Comparing performance across several different markets can also create more realistic or competitive KPIs. This is a CEO-level must for strategical planning.

Simply put, Mortgage BI should also put an emphasis on communication tools. This truly humanizes the process of effective decision making. How so? Individuals involved in brokering deals and reviewing mortgage measures are able to gauge progress and results of specific and ongoing projects. People will be able to visualize their contributions. The mortgage market is filled with information such as vendor performance metrics, production reports, foreclosure, and depreciation measures. There is no longer a need for stacks of notebooks and piles of printouts of these reports and spreadsheets. Mortgage BI organizes tasks for maximum accessibility, dividing tasks into functions like origination, servicing, and REO,all of which drive business decisions.

All data and communication tools are also designed according to compliance and regulation measures. In addition to providing mortgage management companies the option to review data by up-to-date market data, everyday management also becomes more streamlined, saving time and money.  

As the housing market becomes more complex to navigate it’s important to take advantage of the useful solutions out there. As with all Mortgage BI, businesses can focus on closing loans and increasing productivity while reducing the amount of troubleshooting inherent within data analysis. Access Business Technologies also uses technology to provide an extra layer of performance assessment to managers. We also specialize in integrating mortgage BI systems from the ground up.

To learn more about Mortage BI solutions, please contact us. We are your resource for cloud-based mortgaga data management.

Topics: Access Business Technologies mortgage data management cloud-based data

The Dangers of Ransomware to Your Mortgage Company: Protecting Your Private Data from Hackers

In the last 18 months, the world has seen a sharp rise in attacks on businesses, individuals and even government organizations by hackers using sophisticated malware. One of the most dangerous of all being Ransomware. If you've never heard of Ransomware, it basically hijacks your computer system and allows hackers to lock you out of your personal data until you pay a ransom. This may sound like something out of a movie, but unfortunately, it's not. Ransomware is very real, and it’s costing companies millions of dollars.

Mortgage companies are especially vulnerable to these security threats, due to the sensitive nature of the information they use and store. The dangers of Ransomware have been pinned by the media as one of the most dangerous types of malware in cyberspace. One of the most notorious Ransomware viruses out there, called CryptoWall, has reports of over 992 complaints over the last year alone. The total cost of the damage done goes well over $18 million so far, and the threats are still out there.

With all of their valuable information being held ransom, many companies and individuals actually give in and pay the ransom, with the hope they'll get their computer systems back to normal. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Even after paying the ransom, most computer systems stay hijacked until a very expensive and lengthy fix is performed by IT technicians. Sometimes there is nothing that can be done because no backups were made of your files, and the encryption algorithm used to hold your data hostage is not breakable.

This kind of security breach can be devastating to your mortgage company by slowing or stopping a loan closing, threatening not only your reputation as a business, but also the ability of your customer to buy their home. No doubt you have measures in place that safeguard the data you store and send, but how safe is your data really?

One of the most common places Ransomware originates from is often one of the most overlooked and unsecured: email.

Obviously, emails are an essential part of communication between you, your employees and your mortgage clients, but it can also leave you susceptible to security threats, many of which you may not even be aware.

Here is an in-depth look at how Ransomware can threaten your mortgage company and what you can do to protect yourself from those dangers.

How Ransomware Spreads

Just like any other virus, Ransomware gets hidden in links that look like legitimate email subjects. You've likely already trained your loan officers to watch out for emails that look suspicious. The problem is, many people still get fooled because the emails they receive appear to be legitimate. The hackers who spread Ransomware create very convincing emails with the intention of persuading people to click on the links.

Often, these hackers create emails about financial emergencies, in order to cause your employees to panic and perhaps, think less clearly than they typically would. That’s why it's essential to train your loan officers to be extremely cautious with every email they receive.

Once Ransomware gets into your computer systems, it begins to encrypt the files on your computer and any files you can access on servers connected to your computer, where an encryption method locks you out of your own files. Essentially, these viruses locks up your system to the point where your entire mortgage business shuts down.

At the same time, all the private information you have stored on your systems is available to the Ransomware hackers. On the chance you can still get your system unlocked by paying the ransom, the virus creators could have already used or stored the private data of your clients for their own gain.

The good news is, with the proper security software, none of this should ever happen. That’s why at Access Business Technologies, we've created EmailGuardian to fully protect your mortgage company’s email security.

What EmailGuardian Can Do for You

Our EmailGuardian software gives you better control of your email, and protects both incoming and outgoing data.

Our unique, patented software offers complete protection from spam, viruses, malware, phishing, data leaks and email transmission encryption policies. It also protects against inbound and outbound email-borne threats.

Even in the event of a system outage, EmailGuardian offers seamless protection. Its Email Continuity feature delivers always-on email availability in near real-time, even during an email outage. It also integrates easily with Microsoft Outlook, so that your employees can continue to use their preferred email programs safely and securely.

EmailGuardian also provides unlimited email archiving, so you can securely store and save your emails in the cloud for as long as you want, without having to worry about losing or running out of space on servers.

EmailGuardian’s security features are some of the best in the industry. Not only is your business protected from all threats, but you won't have to risk one of your loan officers inadvertently clicking on a malicious link.

Contact us at Access Business Technologies to find out more about EmailGuardian and how it can protect your mortgage firm from the looming threat of Ransomware.

Topics: ABT Access Business Technologies cyber security dangers of ransomware

ABT Athletes Go To The Edge At "Tough Mudder"

What do the folks from Access Business Technologies do when they aren't hosting Mortgage Software for their clients???? Note to our clients: We still had our "after hours" support team and other team members available to handle any issues at the corporate office in Folsom CA.

On September 17th, a group of warriors (Team PowerCore) from ABT, went to the mountains.  Not for an ordinary hike, but to take on  one of the toughest events offered on the  continent...The Tough Mudder.

Map of the Tough Mudder Course

Tough Mudder is a series of obstacle course competitions that bill themselves as “probably the toughest one day event on the planet.” According to the New York Times. The “race” has partnered with the charity The Wounded Warrior Project, which helps wounded servicemen and women.

Tough Mudder NorCal raised more money for the Wounded Warrior Project than any other event to date. Thanks to all who donated and to the Marines along the course. http://toughmudder.com/events/norcal2011/

The ABT team ready for adventure.  Goup shot resized 600

The 11 mile course started at the bottom of what turned out to be a long climb.  

Start resized 600

 

 

 

 

When they reach the top the participants will have climbed 2300 feet in elevation. 

 

 

As if that wasn't enough, the Tough Mudder course designers threw in all types of obstacles.

   2011 Tough Mudder NorCal Gudkov 0538 160x120 resized 600     2011 Tough Mudder NorCal Gudkov 0930 160x120     2011 Tough Mudder NorCal Gudkov 1170 160x120 resized 600

   describe the image    2011 Tough Mudder NorCal Gudkov 0714 160x120 resized 600      2011 Tough Mudder NorCal Gudkov 0895 160x120

Hours later the group came back together to celebrate a great finish to a long and grueling day.

after the race

Congratulations Team.

Go ABT

Topics: Hosted Mortgage Software ABT Access Business Technologies Tough Mudder tech support for hosted software