the cfpb and mortgage guidanceFor years, credit unions have sent mortgage proceeds and loan documents to non-vetted and unsupervised men and women acting as “settlement agents” who appeared at the closing table, interacted with members and were largely responsible for ensuring a safe, secure and compliant mortgage closing. Whether the professional was a lawyer, title agent, escrow agent or notary, the risk issues were the same: No uniform standards of care, no regulated best practices, inconsistent insurance and licensing requirements, and no real-time supervision. The result: A serious risk of fraud and potential harm to credit union financial assets and those of their members.

The NCUA issued guidance on the risk inherent in these third-party professional relationships as far back as 2007 in a letter. It was only a guidance letter, however, and there was no concerted effort to enforce compliance rules surrounding settlement agent vendor management.

Enter the CFPB. In April 2012, the CFPB issued Bulletin 2012-3, which has had a significant impact on how real estate closing professionals are conducting business, and with the onset of TRID, how lenders, including credit unions, are managing closing table risk to protect their assets and consumers generally.

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