More consumers than ever moved online during the pandemic to conduct their day-to-day activities and make purchases. With that digital migration, the uptick in cybercrime quickly followed. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) saw cyberattack complaints jump by 69.4% between 2019 and 2020. According to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Complaint Center (FBI IC3), business email compromise (BEC) schemes were the costliest cybercrime reported for the third consecutive year. There were over 19,000 reported BEC complaints with an estimated loss of upwards of $1.8 billion. And, those are the reported numbers, which the FBI believes to be only 15% of cases. 

Cybercrime is a serious threat to the national economy and for the real estate industry in particular. Real estate transactions are an enticing target due to the large sums of money changing hands at one time. The growing BEC fraud scheme in real estate includes hackers infiltrating legitimate email conversations and sending false wiring instructions. According to ALTA’s 2021 Wire Fraud and Cyber Crime Survey, cybercriminals attempted to commit wire fraud in one-third of all real estate and mortgage transactions. 

A proactive approach to cybersecurity

As cybercrime continues to rise, it’s clear that real estate professionals must be proactive, vigilant, and not wait for a security breach before taking action. One proactive approach is to use a single, secure, unified system where all transaction parties can communicate and share information. This keeps sensitive information secure throughout the entire closing process and avoids unsecured email chains where a malicious interloper can hack. 

Today, hundreds of thousands of real estate and mortgage professionals use Qualia’s unified digital closing platform to deliver simple, secure buying and selling experiences. Integrated into Qualia’s users’ settlement software is Qualia Connect, the client communication and coordination portal. The portal provides consumers a single space to receive updates and exchange information during a closing by bringing the entire closing team onto one secure, cloud-based platform. 

Qualia Connect’s client portal saves time and increases efficiency through its built-in communication and document sharing tools. For example, title & escrow agents can send information requests to clients directly via the portal. Then, that submitted information is auto-populated across an entire order, saving even more time and reducing error by not manually re-keying the data. 

The portal demystifies the closing process for partners and consumers by providing transparency throughout the closing. The closing is no longer the “black box” of the homebuying experience— consumers receive updates in real-time and submit information from anywhere, using the Qualia mobile app. Qualia Connect allows for a consistent process that expedites order processing and provides a seamless closing experience every time.

Enhanced security features to help combat cybercrime

To contend with the growing threat of cyberattacks and wire fraud, Qualia Connect helps to mitigate security risks with a new two-factor authentication (2FA) setting for all users. This default feature (which can be toggled “off”) requires a user to submit two or more forms of authentication to gain access to the system. For example, upon logging into Qualia, users that have enabled 2FA will receive a message to their smartphone, either via SMS or a specialized authenticator app, with a code that the user enters in order to gain access to Qualia. This ensures that even with password compromise, a criminal could not access the system. 

Qualia has built systems and constructed the software around providing best-in-class data privacy and security for all users and has received independent verification of these procedures. The Qualia platform is ISO 27001 and SOC-2 certified and built to help Qualia users stay fully ALTA Best Practices Pillar 3 compliant.

To learn more about Qualia’s security, privacy, and compliance, download this guide.

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