Friday, November 26, 2010

Information is Power in Commercial World: Control Paramount

Refinance packagers bracing for title insurance cyberspace infowars

Edinburgh - Government types, mortgage lenders, bankers - all are aware that with 90,000 homes foreclosed last month, a $6 trillion housing bubble loss to financial institutions overall, and 3-4 million homes on the line over the next 3 to 4 years, he who knows who owes is in the cat bird seat.

The cost of doing business is the key slot, a factor of which futurists everywhere are angling to get an accurate picture.

Enter the solid state technology of chip-driven USB thumb flash drives. With a capacity for information anywhere from 4, 6, 8 or 16 gigabytes, these puppies retail at prices from $10 to $40 the copy, depending on where you shop. Units with a much higher capacity are available – wholesale, of course.

It's a cybernetic innovation which, by comparison, has rendered the CD labor-intensive, slow and expensive.

One of the nation's largest home lenders, Bank Of America, declared a moratorium on home foreclosures in all 50 states until the institution can determine if information it receives from title search companies is really and truly accurate.

In fact, attorneys general in more than one state – Connecticut and Ohio are on record – consider the fact that employees of title insurance companies have supplied incomplete or inaccurate information to expedite the process of foreclosure and resales a severe form of fraud. After all, the home is the basis of personal wealth for all persons, rich and poor.

With such a burning need for the rapid acquisition of accurate information, it's no surprise that a Houston-based company complained to the Open Records Division of the Texas Attorney General's Office and obtained a favorable opinion ordering the Hidalgo County Clerk to allow information on ownership, plat and financial records including divorce settlements to be transferred to their offices on thumb drive rather than on CD's.

The cost differential to Integrity Title Records, Ltd. LLP, a division of a multiple services company that provides title insurance, information on current title plants from as early as the 1800's and off-line research and retrieval, is huge, to say the least.

Marian Cones, vice president of the organization, received a quote of “cost recovery” of $79.70 per CD, for a total of $87,430.90 for 750 GB of data, including a copy of the grantor/grantee index in electronic format from the earliest date to the current; a copy of all document images in electronic format from ealiest date to current; and a copy of all plats in electronic format from the earliest date they have been recorded.

After a thorough review of the situation, Assistant Attorney General Christoper D. Sterner of the Education and Enforcement Section of the Open Records Division of the AG's office ordered the Hidalgo County Clerk's Office Manager Noe Lopez, Jr., to purchase the thumb drives necessary and charge accordingly.

The reasoning is simple enough. When any citizen asks for information in electronic format, it doesn't matter what that format may be. The fact that a governmental entity has rendered its USB outlets inoperative for security purposes is no excuse.

It's up to what format is chosen by the requester, according to the ruling.

The clerk's office was not allowed to charge as a cost $1,200 for a new computer system, but only for the cost of thumb drives needed to get the job done.

Mr. Sterner wrote in the opinion ordering the compliance with the Open Records Act request, “We not a governmental body that fails to provide the required statement pursuant to Section 552.2615 (of the Open Records Act, Tex. Govt. Code) may not collect more than $40 in total charges, regardless of the governmental body's actual costs to provide the copies...”

No comments:

Post a Comment