Volume 2 Number 39
September 26, 2005


Consumer Services HelpLine Number 800-342-2762






 

 

 

 

GALLAGHER ANNOUNCES $2.2 MILLION IN REFUNDS TO TITLE CUSTOMERS IN CENTRAL FLORIDA

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced that approximately 10,000 Central Florida residents will soon benefit under a $2.2 million refund program agreed to by Fidelity National Title Insurance Company.  The refund program was the result of the Department of Financial Services’ investigation of illegal referrals to title agencies for business. 

“The recent housing boom in Florida is a big component of our state’s recent economic success,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  “This office will continue to do everything it can to keep our economy growing, and protect Florida homeowners during the process of purchasing a home.”

Title insurance is required by mortgage lenders to protect themselves and the homebuyer from property ownership disputes.

Under the refund program, Fidelity National title customers who paid for title insurance provided by one of 60 title agencies in Central Florida will receive 30 percent of the title insurance premium paid at the time of closing within the next 120 days.  A list of the 60 title agencies is attached. 

Gallagher said that Fidelity National Title Insurance Company cooperated with the department to establish the refund program.  The company also paid a $1 million fine and agreed to terminate its relationships with title insurance agencies that received illegal payments for referrals of title insurance business.  Bogus affiliated business arrangements were set up to funnel the improper payments.

Simultaneously, Gallagher is taking action to revoke the licenses of the 60 title agencies involved in these illegal arrangements.  Investigators with the department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services said the sham entities did not have separate telephone lines or offices, did not have full-time employees, and business operations were in name only. 

“We will continue to aggressively investigate and take severe action against title agents and agencies involved in these unethical and illegal arrangements,” said Gallagher.

Title insurance companies and agents are barred under state and federal laws from entering into illegal affiliated business arrangements in an attempt to funnel improper payments to builders, real estate agents or mortgage brokers.  They are also barred from providing payments and providing other things of value to real estate agents, mortgage lenders and builders in exchange for business referrals.  Illegal inducements include direct payments, free advertising, paying for office equipment, and gift certificates.

Last year, Gallagher issued a warning to the industry against engaging in illegal kickback arrangements.  Gallagher said that his office is currently investigating all title agencies for similar practices. Fidelity National Insurance Company is the first to reach a settlement with the department.

To file a complaint, visit the Department of Financial Services web site at www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call the toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762. 

The new courthouse in Indian River County, named for the scenic body of water running between the barrier islands and the mainland along Florida's Treasure Coast. America's first National Wildlife Refuge was established on Pelican Island in the Indian River by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.


 
 

 

TITLE AGENCIES

LIST OF TITLE AGENCIES

21st Century Title Agency Inc

Advantage 5 Title Inc

Alitrin Title Inc

Allied Title Co

American Dream Title Inc

American Owner's Title Inc

American Signature Title Inc

America's Source Title Srvcs Inc

Atlantic Select Title Inc

Bayway Title Insurance Srvcs Inc

BCH Title Inc

Brad Limited Title Inc

Buyers & Sellers Ltd Title Agency

Capital Title Agency Inc

Cathay Limited Title Agency Inc

Chase Capital Title LLC

CJ Title And Escrow Inc

Clear Title

CSD Title Inc

Daytona Beach Title Inc

DBM Title Inc

First Florida Title Agency Inc

FN Title Inc

Galleria Home Title Inc

Greater Orlando Title Inc

Gulf Coast Land Title Agency

Home Express Title Inc

Humans Limited Title Inc

Landmark National Title Inc

Meridian Creek Title Ins LLC

Metro Realty Title Corp

Nation Tittle LLC

Orlando Real Estate Title Inc

Park Avenue Title Inc

Penny Limited Title Agency Inc

Quality Florida Title Corp

R & G Title Inc

Results Limited Title Agency Inc

Saint Lawrence Title

Seminole Limited Title Agcy Inc

Shell Title Inc

Southeast Title Company Inc

Southern Prestige Title Inc

Southern Sky Title Services Inc

Sun Resorts Limited Title LLC

Task Title Corp Inc

The Only Limited Title Group

Title Direct Inc

Title Nation Inc

Title Solutions International Inc

Treasure Coast Limited Agency

Winter Park Title Inc

Florida Title Insurance Professionals

Florida West Title

Focus Title

Liberty National Title

Southeast Funding Title Associates

Suncoast Team Title

Villager Title