CertifID wants to save you from becoming a wire fraud victim

Markus Spiske / Unsplash

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CertifID is wire fraud prevention software.

Platforms: Browser; iOS; Android
Ideal for: All parties that are part of a wire transfer during the sale of property.

Top selling points

Top concerns

General cynicism about the risk of wire fraud could prevent agents or title companies from pushing adoption.

What you should know

Do a Google News search for “wire fraud” and you’ll notice something compelling about the stories returned: a case of wire fraud is reported on nearly every day.

CertifID was founded by the owners of Sun Title in Michigan after their company fell victim to wire fraud. In their effort to demonstrate how easy it is to have money sent without proper verification, or at least without people noticing irregularities, the company founders showed me confirmation that they were able to wire money to “Winnie the Pooh” without anyone blinking.

Today’s web-heavy business environment has made the risks greater because of what CertifID calls our “digital distance.”

It’s become evident that we’re too trusting, too quick to accept technology as infallible and, in general, too busy to care.

The company’s software goes deep to ensure the sender and receiver of the wire transfer are who they should be, and the escrow officer is verified as well.

It all starts with an account setup process that uses a multitude of tactics to verify transaction parties.

CertifID first vets and authorizes an account for a title company. A single point person within the company then distributes access invitations, only as needed per individual closing.

The initial setup process requires that person to answer a number of out-of-wallet questions — inquiries that can’t be answered with information found on a person’s credit card, license or any other common form of personal ID. It also requires a password, location information, phone number and social security number.

A one-time code is then sent to finally open access to a user. A new code is sent every time, even for existing title company customers.

CertifID then sends an invite to the seller to create an account, using the same two-factor authentication process. The seller gets a code and if all is correct after entering it, they’re asked to confirm their bank information to execute the wire.

There’s also a built-in timer for the code use and wiring instruction confirmation. Take too long and you’ll get sent back to square one.

When a buyer has to send funds, the title agent sends an invite for the buyer to sign up. After the one-time code is entered, the buyer is sent the escrow officer’s wiring instructions and asked to confirm receipt.

Even if a scammer were able to get far enough to receive a one-time code, CertifID would recognize the foreign device based on its location, recent browsing history, account numbers, account activation time, and countless other data forms that link a physical person to an individual device. (Yes, we’re that connected today.)

It’s possible that a stolen device could be used by a thief, but anything that person does on the phone is recorded; the thief would have to almost perfectly emulate the physical and phone-use behaviors of the actual person to pull it off.

The multi-step timed use of the software also ensures that everyone involved is “present” in the transaction — it’s not just another task to complete that day. The software keeps everyone aware and on-target.

Despite the highly complex, polysyllabic security parameters driving CertifID, the software manages to be easy to use; it’s easier to use than it is to explain — trust me.

CertifID is not as easy as creating an account via our Facebook credentials, which is the exact point. Lest we forget, we’re talking about securing transactions for a person’s largest lifetime investment. It should require multiple steps.

Ultimately supporting this software’s identification power is an incredibly deep trove of public information made available thanks to our wide-open internet lifestyle.

I was privy to a small snippet of data from the phone of a CertifID founder during our demo, and to say we reveal a lot about ourselves via cell phone use is an understatement.

This information is incredibly valuable to people in the digital security business, as well as law enforcement organizations (and whoever else sits above in shadow).

It’s this data that lets CertifID verify who is who. And now that phones are using fingerprints and facial recognition access barriers, we’re providing the world with even more information about ourselves.

In the world of wire fraud, this is a good thing because it’s harder for people to outsmart the process now.

This is smart, timely software for the banking and real estate industries, and I believe the voice of agents should be heard loud and often in making sure more is done to prevent wire fraud.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.