Volume 2 Number 23
June 6, 2005










TEXT VERSION

 

 

BE A SMART INVESTOR: VERIFY BEFORE YOU BUY

Each year, thousands of Floridians fall prey to financial scams that cheat them out of their hard-earned money or retirement savings.  Helping potential investors get their questions answered before they invest is one way to help protect them from being scammed.

I also believe education and awareness are an investor’s best defense against fraud. The department is reaching out to Florida investors through public service announcements and billboard advertising to share a simple message: Be a Smart Investor: Verify Before You Buy.  

The PSAs and billboards will help direct Floridians to the department’s helpline number – 1-800-342-2762 – where they can verify that a broker, firm or company is licensed to sell investments and how long they’ve been doing business in Florida.  Potential investors can also find out if there are any complaints filed or actions taken against the broker or company they are checking out. 

Potential investors can also use a new on-line tool to verify that a broker or company is licensed by logging on to www.yourmoneyyourlife.org and then clicking on Be a Smart Investor: Verify Before You Buy. The website also offers tips and resources to help investors of all ages and income levels better protect themselves against investment fraud.

If you are thinking about investing in a stock, bond, insurance or any financial product, I urge you to take advantage of these new tools and resources.

 

Sarasota County courthouse was built in 1925 and was praised as one of the most artistic public buildings in the United States.


GALLAGHER COMMENDS GOVERNOR, LAWMAKERS FOR ENACTING HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE PROTECTIONS

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher applauded Gov. Bush and state lawmakers for enacting a new homeowner’s insurance law which provides significant new consumer protections for Floridians. 

“The unprecedented string of four catastrophic hurricanes that Florida weathered last year revealed gaps where homeowners encountered surprises in their policies due to confusing language or inadequate disclosures,” Gallagher said.  “In the town hall meetings I hosted we learned that Floridians wanted simpler and more transparent insurance policies; this law answers that need.”

Alongside Gov. Bush at the signing of the homeowners’ bill, Gallagher said, “Florida could not have asked for finer leadership during last year’s hurricanes than that provided by Gov. Bush.  I was proud to work with him during Florida’s recovery and I am proud to stand with him as he signs this important legislation.”
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*CONSUMER ALERT*
FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORTS AND CREDIT REPAIR

Your credit record can determine a lot about your financial future, from how much credit you get to whether you are offered a job. That’s why Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is urging Floridians to take advantage of a new law starting June 1 that lets consumers get free annual credit reports.

“Floridians should carefully check their credit reports for errors and incomplete information,” stated CFO Gallagher, who is spearheading efforts to promote financial literacy among Floridians of all ages and economic levels.  “Identity theft can be stopped early by a thorough examination of the details in a credit report. Good credit is an asset worth protecting.”

Take advantage of the free annual credit reports now available to Florida consumers that can be requested from each of the three major credit reporting services under the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. Once each year Floridians get to review their credit reports at no charge due to this change in the law that goes into effect today.   CONTINUED



 

 

 

CFO GALLAGHER REGARDING IMPROVEMENTS TO SEX-OFFENDER DATABASE

During a meeting of the governor and the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher requested that additional key information be made available to the public to protect families from the threat of convicted sex offenders and sexual predators. 

“Just like any parent in this state, my first priority is the safety of my family.  If the state can legally provide me with information I can use to protect my wife and child against the threat of sexual predators, then I believe it should,” said Gallagher. “Commissioner Guy Tunnell and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have done a great job in compiling a sex-offender database which allows Floridians to check the addresses of convicted sex offenders who live within five miles of their neighborhoods. 

“We should continue to look for ways to arm families with information. In last week's meeting of the governor and Cabinet, I proposed that the make, model, color and license plate number of convicted sex-offenders’ vehicles be added as available information in the FDLE sex-offender database.  I am pleased that the response among the governor, fellow Cabinet members and the commissioner have been supportive so far, and I look forward to working with FDLE on this effort.

“With the recent string of horrible crimes committed against children in Florida, parents are searching for any information that will help them better protect their children.   I will continue to do what I can to ensure the state is making every effort to protect them as well.”
 


 

 

GALLAGHER ANNOUNCES WORKSHOPS TO EDUCATE BUSINESSES, OFFICES ABOUT STATE'S UNCLAIMED PROPERTY LAWS

Last year, the Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Unclaimed Property, returned a record $99 million in unclaimed cash and property to 176,000 owners or heirs.  But Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher wants to do more to make sure unclaimed property is returned to the rightful owners or heirs.

 
Gallagher has organized a series of workshops this summer to educate businesses and government offices about Florida’s unclaimed property laws. 
 
“If the state has the responsibility to collect unclaimed property, then we must make sure that all unclaimed property is being reported to us,” Gallagher said.  “Yes, people move and forget about a safe deposit box or their utility deposit, but people also lose track of their property through company mergers and buyouts and I want to make sure that no Floridian loses their property due to company practices.”
 
The dates for the workshops are June 14, 2005 in Orlando; June 23, 2005 in Tampa; June 29, 2005 in Fort Lauderdale; and July 12, 2005 in Jacksonville.  For more information about the workshops, log onto www.fltreasurehunt.org and click on events. CONTINUED
 

 

 

 

GALLAGHER WARNS INVESTORS:  VERIFY BEFORE YOU BUY  

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that he is expanding efforts to promote investor education and protect investors from financial scams. His message, communicated through public service announcements and billboard advertising, is “Be a Smart Investor: Verify Before You Buy.”  

“Each year, thousands of Floridians fall prey to financial scams that cheat them out of their hard-earned money or retirement savings,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Florida Department of Financial Services. “Our goal with this campaign is to protect investors by getting their questions answered before they invest.” 

Gallagher said both the PSAs and billboards will help direct Floridians to the department’s helpline number – 1-800-342-2762 – where they can verify that a broker, firm or company is licensed to sell investments and how long they’ve been doing business in Florida.  Potential investors can also find out if there are any complaints filed or actions taken against the broker or company they are considering.

Gallagher also said that potential investors can use a new on-line tool to verify that a broker or company is licensed by logging on to www.yourmoneyyourlife.org and then clicking on “Be a Smart Investor: Verify Before You Buy.”  The website also offers tips and resources to help investors of all ages and income levels better protect themselves against investment fraud.
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CFO GALLAGHER REGARDING THE COASTAL PETROLEUM SETTLEMENT


"Last week, those of us in the Florida Cabinet had our chance to eliminate the threat of close-in drilling near our beaches. We took the opportunity to protect the Florida coastline from oil drilling and preserve our natural treasures for future generations by supporting this measure in the Cabinet meeting," CFO Gallagher said.

“Keeping our coastline free from the threat of oil drilling is good environmental policy and good economic policy," the CFO further stated. "I will continue to support measures that balance both priorities for Florida’s future."

By signing a settlement agreement between Coastal Petroleum Company and the State of Florida, the governor and the Cabinet forever eliminated the potential for oil drilling in Florida waters. All rights and interests in Florida's last remaining oil leases were surrendered in exchange for $12.5 million to Coastal Petroleum.

This issue had been in discussion for more than 15 years, after Florida banned drilling in territorial waters in the 1990s. Coastal's leases dated from the 1940s, when the leases were granted for oil exploration and production within ten miles of the Florida coastline stretching from the eastern panhandle to Naples.