The Greater Illinois Title Company Group of Companies Completes Type 2 SOC 2 Report & ALTA Best Practices Certification

The Greater Illinois Title Company Group of Companies Completes Type 2 SOC 2 Report and ALTA Best Practices Certification

Greater Illinois Title Company, the largest title agency in Illinois and one of the largest in the country announced that it has recently completed its Service Organization Controls Type 2 SOC 2 examination and ALTA Best Practices Certification for the period of 2016 to 2017.

The examinations were performed by an independent auditing firm, A-LIGN and contained no exceptions. A Type II report includes the service organization’s system description, as well as a detailed testing of the operating effectiveness of the service organization’s controls throughout the specified period.

Completion of the Type 2 SOC 2 Type II examination covers Greater Illinois Title Company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries: Greater Indiana Title Company, GIT Florida Title Services, Greater Wisconsin Title, GIT Michigan Title Services, and Greater Missouri Title Company.

Achievement of this elite standard of compliance certification places all GITC companies in the Top 1% of title agencies in the country.

A SOC 2 examination is widely recognized because it represents that a service organization has been through an evaluation of their control activities as they relate to the applicable trust services principles and criteria.

A SOC 2 examination is performed in accordance AICPA attestation standards and is designated as an acceptable method for an entity’s management to obtain assurance about service organization internal controls over security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

“We are pleased to report that GIT and all its subsidiary companies have received SOC 2 certifications following an extensive, ongoing audit and testing over a twelve-month period. This is the highest and most complete examination and testing of processes and controls for a settlement services provider,” stated Gregory M. Kosin, President and Chief Compliance Officer for the GIT Group of Companies. “It provides comfort to lenders and consumers knowing that proper security policies and procedures have been implemented and tested. We passed both examinations without a single exception. The GIT Group of Companies is effectively in an elite and select group of title agencies in the country.”

The Greater Illinois Title Company Group of Companies, which includes Greater Illinois Title Company, Greater Indiana Title Company, GIT Florida Title Services, Greater Wisconsin Title Company, GIT Michigan Title Services, Greater Missouri Title Company and Greater Illinois Tax Deferred Exchange Corporation, operates from thirty five offices and closing locations in seven states and services national business through its National Title Services Group™.

Effective January 1, 2018, whenever a title company is searching property for the purpose of issuing commitments or policies, a search must be conducted on the Illinois State Tax Lien Registry (STLR).

Illinois will have an online database for the recording of a lien against a person or entity who owes money/taxes to the Illinois Department of Revenue (“IDOR”). On July 6, 2017, Public Act 100-22 (SB9), became effective allowing the IDOR to create its own state tax lien registry.

Put simply, the IDOR will no longer be recording its liens or releases with local county recorders. Instead, the IDOR now maintains its own searchable lien registry. The IDOR proposed this registry after seeing Mississippi and Georgia successfully administer similar cost-saving programs in their own states. This self-admitted cost savings program will offset recording costs paid by Illinois to individual counties.

In many instances, the search of the STLR will disclose a large number of possible liens against the party the title company is searching. We anticipate that it will become almost mandatory for title companies to require personal information affidavits completed by the buyer and seller prior to closing. This new policy may require the last four digits of a person’s or entity’s #SSN or #FEIN.

This step will be carried out more frequently by title agents to ensure accuracy on title companies’ name searches.

A notice of tax lien registered in the STLR on or after January 1, 2018, will be a lien upon all property owned by the taxpayer in the State of Illinois, without any further requirement of recording in any specific county. When a notice of tax lien is filed by the Department in the registry, the tax lien is perfected and shall be attached to all of the existing and after-acquired property of the debtor, both real and personal, tangible and intangible, which is located in any and all counties within the State of Illinois.

With the implementation of STLR, the lien will continue to have an internal IDOR association with the county where the IDOR has reason to believe the taxpayer has or had, a presence; and will be searchable with the county as a parameter. Despite the specific language in the statute, the IDOR materials suggest the position that all liens, even those in the registry, are merely county liens. However, any association on the STLR to any specific county does not limit the attachment of the lien to all property owned in the entire state.

Questions regarding the internal workings of the STLR can be emailed to rev.lien@illinois.gov. 

On January 3, 2018, the IDFPR held a Town Hall Meeting which was labeled by the IDFPR as the beginning of a dialogue regarding premium splits between title agents and their underwriters. They referred to it as the first step in a long journey. The IDFPR limited the discussions at the town hall meeting to the following three issues:

(1) Improper Inducements– IDFPR Position- The underlying agreement between the underwriter and the agent controls the compensation to be paid and if a higher amount is paid to the agent, there is a violation of the Illinois Title Insurance Act and RESPA

(2) Splitting of premium – IDFPR Position- The Department would like to see agency contracts between the title agency and the underwriter of 80/20 or 85/15. The title agent’s agency contract agreement with the underwriter controls the split. Splits of 100% to the agent or those that would otherwise violate the statutory premium reserve are improper.

(3) Splitting of fees – IDFPR Position – A non-escrow agent can receive a split of a fee that directly relates to policy issuance or is otherwise authorized by the Act, i.e., determining the insurability of title, collecting premiums, soliciting title insurance, and issuing commitments, policies, and endorsements. Thus, a fee for a later date examination relates to insurability and can be split with the agent if that agent performed the examination. Otherwise, the fee cannot be split.
Furthermore, fees relating to closing/settlement services cannot be split because they are not related to an agent’s statutorily authorized activities.

Lastly, the Department stressed the importance of issuing the DS1 Disclosure Statement to clients prior to issuance of the title commitment. In many instances, the DS1 Disclosure Statement is signed at the closing table, and this is an issue that the Department is going to pay particular attention to on a go forward basis.

The Department Representatives also discussed the importance of the title agent performing the ‘core title services” as set forth by the IDFPR and HUD. For a title agent to receive compensation as a title agent, the title agent must perform core title agent services for which liability arises separately from attorney services, including the evaluation of the title search to determine the insurability of the title, the clearance of underwriting objections, and, where customary, the issuance of the title commitment and title policy, and where customary, the conducting of the closing.

The Department stated that legislative changes in the future may be needed to address marketplace conduct.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact GIT President Greg Kosin at greg.kosin@gitc.com