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Fellow Escrow Humans,

I hope you are all enjoying the summer season, even though vacations and weekends in 2020 are being spent with social distancing requirements, face masks and other safety precautions. I wonder how we will look back upon this time 10 years from now and what lessons we will have learned - or will we have forgotten about it, with 2020 being remembered as just another little blip in history? I, for one, hope that all of the struggle and hardship we are going through will bring about positive change.

On the COVID-19 front the uncertainty continues. As I am writing this message, we continue to be in Stage 2 of the 4-stage COVID-19 California Recovery Roadmap, however, this may change at any moment. Work-wise you wouldn’t know we were in a raging pandemic, as business is booming. I am in awe of the resilience and dedication of escrow officers and their teammates! You are all super stars!

Remember that the IRS’ extended tax deadline is almost here. If you haven’t already done so, be sure you file yours by July 15th to avoid penalties.

It appears that California will not be getting Remote Online Notarization (RON) any time soon. Last month the California Attorney General sent a letter to Congress opposing RON and urged “...Congress to abandon any attempts to impose remote online notarization on the states and to allow policing notarization of documents to continue as an individual state concern.” A number of California trade associations had sent a joint letter to Governor Newsom requesting an Executive Order to allow California to accept out-of-state remote notarizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you receive documents or requests to accept RON documents, please be sure to check your company’s and title’s underwriting requirements before accepting RON documents.

OCEA conducted its second virtual General Membership Meeting on June 17th, with Lisa Tyler sharing a lot of great information, as she always does! Lisa is famous for her cautionary escrow tales from the real world, and this time, she spoke to us about:

  • What to look out for to avoid fraud related to Federal Tax Liens and payoff wire fraud
  • What you need to know about avoiding payoff losses in connection with Forbearance allowances for deferring mortgage payments under the CARES Act, which was hastily-enacted in response to financial burdens created as a result of the COVID-19 economic shutdown
  • Updated information on FinCEN GTOs and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).

Mickey Vandenberg

Celebrating 70 Years of Unlocking Education

You really missed out if you didn’t join us! Knowledge is Power and joining OCEA’s webinars will give you critical information to take back to your office as COVID-19 and other factors necessitate changes in escrow operations for the protection of “OPM” (Other People’s Money).

On that note, though we’re still not able to gather together in person, your OCEA Board of Directors continues to work to bring education to you. We will be back to you (virtually) in August, when our topic will be: Ask the Experts: We want to hear from YOU. What escrow topics are bugging you? Are you struggling with an unusual situation? If YOU have questions about something, others probably do, as well. Please let us know! Your query could turn into an educational email blast, or even our next meeting topic. We’re here for you. Please send us your questions to

I know I said this in my last message, but I think it is worth repeating: Knowing that at some point, this too shall pass, we continue to look to the future. Federal and state legislators continue to put new rules and programs in place in response to the COVID-19 crisis - rules that can have a huge impact on how you do your job on the escrow desk. As they say: if you’re not at the (negotiating) table, you’re on the menu! Now, perhaps more so than ever before, it is crucial for you to be a member of your trade association. Join for the education, to receive news and important notifications and updates about compliance issues, and to make your voice heard. We need you as much as we hope you need us. Please encourage those you know to become a member of Orange County Escrow Association so they will be in the know and so that we may have the strength in numbers it takes to have our voices heard at the State and National levels! Show your pride in your profession. Membership and continuing education raise the bar for escrow service providers throughout the state, which creates a huge benefit to the customers we each serve - after all, they are the reason we are here doing what we do.

I thank you for the opportunity to represent you as OCEA’s 2020 President and look forward to the day when we can safely meet together again in person!

Mickey Vandenberg
2019/2020 OCEA President

P.S.: If you haven’t already done so, please “like” us on Facebook, and visit the OCEA website [] where, among other useful bits of information, there’s a list of all of our amazing 2020 Silver Sponsors. All sponsor logos link to their websites. When you can, please support our sponsors as they support each of us in the industry.