Volume I, Number 1
January 5, 2004









HAPPY NEW YEAR!  

Welcome to the first issue of Consumer eViews. You have received this special newsletter because you may have contacted the Department of Financial Services recently. Our mailing list includes consumers, professionals, government employees and elected officials. Subscription is free and available to all who may be interested. 

Consumer eViews is our way of using technology as a cost-effective means to easily communicate with you about important issues in the state of Florida.  

You’ll receive a new edition each week, informing you of developments on financial services issues - insurance fraud, unclaimed property, fire safety, state government accountability, consumer financial tips and assistance. Consumer eViews will also highlight the many services available from the Department of Financial Services as well as issues that come before the Florida Cabinet. 

Feel free to pass this message along to friends and colleagues who would like to receive our newsletter. To subscribe, click the button “Subscribe to Consumer eViews,” to the left. If you do not wish to receive this weekly update, please click “Unsubscribe.”   

As the state's Chief Financial Officer, I am honored to serve you, the citizens of Florida. We look forward to helping you obtain answers to your important questions and sharing information on financial topics that affect us all.  

                                 Kindest regards,

                             


FLORIDA OUTPACES NATION IN INSURANCE FRAUD CONVICTIONS

TALLAHASSEE—Florida once again leads the nation in the number of insurance fraud convictions and cases presented for prosecution, according to a study released today by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a national alliance of consumer organizations, insurance companies and government agencies working to combat insurance fraud.

Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher noted the study showed the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, has outpaced other state fraud bureaus – including posting the largest gain in the number of insurance fraud convictions – while working with a staff and budget two-thirds smaller than other key states. Continued


BE WARY WHEN BUYING INSURANCE ONLINE

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is warning consumers to be wary about buying insurance over the Internet. In recent months, the Department of Financial Services has received an increasing number of complaints from consumers who bought insurance online only to find they are unable to get claims paid or their premiums returned.

"Unfortunately, these consumers risk having not only their money stolen but their identities stolen as well," Gallagher said. "As consumers, we must be more than cautious in protecting our personal and financial information – we must be downright aggressive. Because of the Internet, we have more access and more options than ever, but we also have more risks." Continued


FULL ACCOUNTABILITY CRITICAL TO FLORIDA'S SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAMS

Four years ago, the Governor and Florida Legislature took bold steps to improve education by increasing standards and offering educational alternatives for children trapped in failing schools.

As the state’s Education Commissioner at that time, I fully supported these new initiatives and helped implement them. I continue to strongly support these public policy changes and believe the results speak for themselves – we’ve seen the number of "A" schools grow five-fold and witnessed a 10 percent increase in the number of fourth graders reading on grade level. Continued