Pillar One: Licensing
It is the policy of Consumers First Settlements to comply with all the licensing laws and regulations in all states in which it operated.
Consumers First Settlements has in place the following controls:
- Every employee of Consumers First Settlements is required to be properly licensed as required by current laws and regulations.
- Consumers First Settlements holds a valid appointment with the following underwriter: Old Republic Title Insurance Company and Stuart Title.
- Consumers First Settlements is a Real Estate Settlement Agent registered with the Virginia Bureau of Insurance and is compliant with all RESA regulations.
- Consumers First Settlements maintains a written procedure to verify licensing and registration for the agency and its employees on a schedule basis due date.
Pillar Two: Escrow Account Controls
Consumers First Settlements considers safeguarding its customer funds to be of the utmost importance.
Consumers First Settlements has in place the following escrow controls:
- Three-way reconciliation of all escrow accounts is conducted on a monthly basis.
- The following fraud controls offered by SoftPro: Positive pay, automated clearing house blocks, and international wire blocks are in place and in use for every transaction.
- Escrow and Operating funds are never commingled and remain in segregated accounts.
- All accounts are maintained in federally insured financial institutions.
- Only authorized employees have access to Consumers First Settlements’ escrow accounts.
- All wire transfers require two approvals.
- Reconciliation of accounts is performed by persons without check and wire transfer authority and are reviewed by management every month.
- Management conducts regular audits of employee’s escrow files.
- All escrow account controls are audited by management annually.
- Employees receive regular training in proper handling of escrow funds and escrow accounting.
- Employees receive regular training on identification of fraud, especially mortgage fraud.
- Management reviews training levels for all escrow employees on an annual basis.
Pillar Three: Information and Data Privacy
It is the policy of Consumers First Settlements to comply with all federal privacy and data security laws and regulations and such laws in all states in which it operates.
Consumers First Settlements maintains the following information and data security controls:
- The office lobby is physically separated from employee’s office space. All customers/vendors are escorted through office space.
- Consumers First Settlements has a written Data Security Policy under which employees are trained, audited and compliant.
- Physical files are maintained in a secure location when not in use.
- Server room us isolated and accessible to only authorized employees.
- Consumers First Settlements has commercially acceptable network security barriers and monitors in place.
- Consumers First Settlements has an established Business Continuity Plan which is reviewed and updated annually.
- Employees undergo background and credit checks at hiring and routinely thereafter.
- Documents are transmitted by secure methods.
- All Non-Public Personal Information is retained in secure locations and disposal is in compliance with state and federal law.
- Employees are regularly trained on the collection, maintenance and disposal of Non-public personal information.
- Consumers First Settlements has a written privacy statement which is disseminated to customers.
- Management audits compliance with privacy statement on a regular basis.
Pillar Four: Settlement Polices and Procedures
It is the policy of Consumers First Settlements to conduct every settlement in compliance with the RESPA and all other federal and state laws. Every settlement is conducted in accordance with the instructions of lender, seller, buyer, borrower and title insurance underwriter.
Consumers First Settlements maintains the following settlement controls:
- Final settlement statements reflect actual disbursements made on behalf of the parties.
- All closing instructions are collected in writing and are reviewed prior to closing.
- Settlements are conducted in accordance with lender instructions.
- All documents are reviewed by settlement employees prior to closing.
- All mortgage payoffs are received in writing directly from the lender. Payoff funds are sent securely as directed in payoff letter.
- Home equity lines of credit are properly closed and release of record.
- Title insurance commitment requirements are satisfied prior to closing to ensure issuance of a policy.
- All disbursements from Consumers First Settlements’ escrow account are properly documents in account ledgers.
- Employees are trained on mortgage fraud awareness and prevention.
- All title insurance rate calculations are made through the underwriters online rate calculator and a written record is maintained in the file.
- All available rate discounts are provided to customers.
- Management conducts periodic audit of premium to verify compliance with underwriter’s rate structure.
- Overcharge of any fee is promptly refunded to customer.
- Documents are submitted for recording within two business days of settlement.
- All recording shipments are tracked and recording of documents verified.
- Consumers First Settlements is a Real Estate Settlement Agent registered with the Virginia Bureau of Insurance and is compliant with all RESPA regulations.
Pillar Five: Title Production
It is the policy of Consumers First Settlements to produce, deliver and remit every title insurance policy in a manner that is compliant with the lender instructions and the agency’s contract with its title insurance underwriter.
Consumers First Settlements has established the following procedures with respect to title insurance policy production:
- Consumers First Settlements has established a goal of delivering policies to its customers within thirty days of closing.
- Policies are reported to agency’s underwriter no later than the end of the first full month after closing.
- Title searches are conducted in accordance with underwriting guidelines established by the title insurance company
- Employees are regular trained on the production of title insurance policies.
- All underwriting of title insurance policies is conducted by a licensed title insurance agent.
- Title and closing files are preserved in accordance with applicable state law and instruction of title insurance underwriter.
- Files are destroyed in accordance with state and federal privacy law.
- Consumers First Settlements has been appointed an agent for Old Republic Title & Stuart Title Insurance Company
- Consumers First Settlements responds promptly to customer and underwriter requests in the event of a claim.
Pillar Six: Errors & Omissions and Fidelity Coverage
- Professional liability or errors and omissions insurance
- Consumers First Settlements maintains professional liability insurance in the amount of no less than $1,000,000.00. This amount is appropriate given the company’s size and complexity and the nature and scope of its operations; the amount is not less than the amount agreed to in the company’s underwriting agreement(s).
- The insurance carrier is nationally known and has appropriate Best ratings.
- Coverages/Endorsements are reviewed annually and are added or subtracted to reflect current changes in the practices of the industry and to reflect new threats to our business as they arise such as cybercrime.
- Fidelity bond coverage (Protection for Agent against employee dishonestly)
- Consumers First Settlements maintains a fidelity bond policy in an amount of not less than $100,000.00 as well as a Cyber Risk & Employee Risk policy of not less than $100,000.00. The company reviews both State law and our Issuing Agency Contracts to verify that our coverage meets or exceeds their respective requirements. This coverage is carried even if State law or our issuing Agency Contract do not require it from time-to-time as conditions or laws change.
- Surety bond coverage – Real Estate Settlement Agent (RESA)
- Consumers First Settlements is a RESA-registers Virginia Settlement Agent and has provided to the Bureau of Insurance with a $200,000 surety bond for protection of its customers as a condition to registration. Consumers First Settlements is compliant with all RESA regulations and is in good standing with the Bureau of Insurance.
- Professional liability or errors and omissions insurance
Pillar Seven: Consumer Complaints
Consumers First Settlements has a standard consumer complaint form and uses this to record any/all consumer complaints. As circumstances warrant, supporting documents are attached to the complaint form which provide additional information including communications, facts or specific details. Management documents approval on completed consumer complaint forms.
Single point of contact for consumer complaints and process for routing consumer complaints to appropriate personnel.
Ronni Ackermann, Office Manager, is the single point of contact at Consumers First Settlements for consumer complaints. The nature of the complaint determines to which appropriate personnel the complaint will be forwarded, if necessary.