CFO Alex Sink's Consumer eViews Newsletter
 
Volume 5 Number 28 July 11, 2008

CONSUMER SERVICES HELPLINE 877-MY-FL-CFO

This week, CFO Alex Sink announced a plan to consolidate the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) eleven consumer call centers, resulting in an estimated taxpayer savings of $5 million over the next five years. Florida TaxWatch called this “exactly the kind of savings our leaders should be implementing to better serve the people of Florida.”

As a reader of CFO Sink’s eViews, you join over half a million Floridians currently receiving a weekly update on important work and announcements like this one that can save you time or money. Whether events, notifications, or money saving tips, this newsletter gets information directly to those who need it most. The eViews newsletter also offers a link to www.MyFloridaCFO.com, where you have access to the thirteen divisions and programs available to Floridians as well as information for consumers, agents and adjusters, employers, and state vendors.

After announcing her tax savings plan, CFO Sink said the “people in our state are looking for innovative and effective ways of increasing productivity, while not sacrificing customer service.”

Thank you for reading CFO Sink’s eViews and for your interest in the critical issues affecting Floridians.


 

Dateline NBC

CFO SINK TO APPEAR ON DATELINE NBC

CFO Alex Sink will be featured on NBC’s Dateline NBC Monday night at 10 p.m. Tune in as Tiki Barber leads a team of 'on-air detectives,' including NBC News' Peter Alexander and Tamron Hall, as they cross the country helping states crack some of their toughest, unsolved cases. 

Dateline NBC assisted CFO Sink’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property in tracking down the heirs of  an invaluable medal of service, which was turned over to the State of Florida.

Tune in to "You Might Be Rich!" Monday at 10pmET/PT on NBC and visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org to see if you have a missing treasure.


  CFO SINK ANNOUNCES PLAN TO CUT $5 MILLION BY CONSOLIDATING STATE CALL CENTERS

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced a plan to consolidate the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) eleven consumer call centers, resulting in an estimated taxpayer savings of $5 million over the next five years. CFO Sink’s plan calls for two high-quality service centers in Tallahassee and Largo to improve service and increase customer satisfaction.

The call center consolidation is consistent with CFO Sink’s direction to ensure responsible stewardship of state funds, and the Florida Legislature’s directive to state agencies to find operational reductions to help balance the state’s budget.

“The people in our state are looking for innovative and effective ways of increasing productivity, while not sacrificing customer service,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the department. “Over the next five years, this plan will save millions in tax dollars and set a new standard for government efficiency in tight economic times.” CONTINUED

Alex Sink

 
Fraud badgeState Fire Marshal badge


CFO SINK SWEARS IN NEW LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL

On Monday, CFO Sink joined State Senator Bill Posey in opening an innovative Insurance Fraud Academy for investigators within the Divisions of Insurance Fraud and Workers' Compensation, in addition to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Located at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy in Quincy, investigators will participate in an eight-week course aimed at increasing effectiveness of anti-fraud efforts across the state. Graduates of the academy will be better trained and more prepared to protect Florida citizens. While congratulating the first class of participants, CFO Sink also swore in detectives from both divisions and promoted five Captains.

State Senator Bill Posey and CFO Alex Sink


My Family CFO
Are you the chief financial officer of your family? Are you always looking out for the best deals, wise investments and smart moves for your family's financial security?

As your family's fiscal watch dog, keep an eye on this column for money-smart ideas from the Chief Financial Officer of Florida,
Alex Sink.

Idea:  Be sure your home is protected from a flood

In the midst of hurricane season, Florida residents should take the time to prepare themselves and their homes for possible flooding.

As a homeowner, there are a variety of things you can do to protect your property against floods. Florida flood maps are issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and are available at http://msc.fema.gov.

Many Floridians are surprised to learn that homeowners' insurance may not cover flood damage. Homeowners' insurance usually covers damage from wind, but not from flooding.  If you desire flood insurance coverage, you must purchase a separate flood insurance policy.

You can purchase these policies from the federal government through private insurance agents and agencies. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) establishes one set of policy terms and rates for the various flood insurance policies. As a result, comparison-shopping for flood insurance is not necessary, but a buyer should carefully discuss and review the conditions and requirements of the applicable flood insurance policy with his or her agent. Information on flood insurance is available at www.floodsmart.gov or you can contact the NFIP directly at (888) 379-9531. However, unless you are purchasing insurance in connection with a new home or refinancing a mortgage, you should be advised there is a standard 30-day waiting period from the day of purchase before a new flood policy goes into effect.



 Homeowners Toolkit


 

IT'S STORM SEASON, FLORIDA

The first hurricane of the season has formed and is an important reminder about the importance of being prepared. From June 1 through November 30, Floridians should keep a watchful eye on the weather , especially if a storm is developing.

If you haven't already, now is the time to review and update your insurance policies, develop an emergency communication plan, make a hurricane preparedness kit, and create a home inventory.

CFO Sink has prepared a financial tool kit for Floridians to help them prepare.  The kit provides essential financial information and a complete set of documents to aid in recovery.
 Print it out to get the financial tools you need. You may have a tool kit mailed to you by calling our Consumer Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO.

For additional about how to prepare for a storm, visit www.floridadisaster.org.


 

DON'T WAIT - SIGN UP NOW FOR YOUR MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME WIND INSPECTION

As of Friday, July 11, 2008, the popular first-come, first-serve My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program has less than 5,000 free wind inspections remaining for eligible Florida homeowners.  If you have not already done so, click on this link to fill out the application for your wind inspection now.

The Florida Legislature directed the MSFH program to provide wind inspections for at least 400,000 site-built, single-family homes and the program expects to exceed that goal in the next few days.

The program previously met its goals for awarding matching grants in May after providing grants to at least 35,000 applicants.

Participating homeowners receive a free wind inspection report, which suggests ways homeowners can harden their homes against storm damage and informs homeowners if they are currently eligible to save money on their wind insurance premiums. To date, 58 percent of homeowners who have received a free wind inspection were eligible for discounts on their wind insurance premiums, averaging $219.31 statewide.


IRS.gov


SCAMMERS USE EMAIL, FAX TO POSE AS IRS
 
The Internal Revenue Service cautions taxpayers to be on the lookout for a new wave of scams using the IRS name in identity theft e-mails, or phishing, that have circulated during the last two months.

In May and June alone, taxpayers reported almost 700 separate phishing incidents to the IRS. In 2008 so far, taxpayers have reported about 1,600 phishing incidents to the IRS.

“Taxpayers should take steps to keep their personal information out of the hands of identity thieves,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “That includes not falling for any of the phony e-mails or faxes now in circulation pretending to come from the IRS.”

The most common scams involve tax refunds and, this year, economic stimulus payments.

Although most of these scams consist of e-mails requesting detailed personal information, the IRS generally does not send e-mails to taxpayers, does not discuss tax account matters with taxpayers in e-mails, and does not request security-related personal information, such as PIN numbers, from taxpayers. CONTINUED

State Fire Marshal badge

CFO SINK: PUTNAM COUNTY VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER SUSPECTED ON CHARGES OF ARSON

State Fire Marshal Alex Sink Friday announced the arrest of a Putnam County volunteer firefighter on charges of first-degree arson.

Detectives from the State Fire Marshal’s Office arrested Charles M. Jones III, 19, for first degree arson. White is a volunteer firefighter with the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department within Putnam County.

White was arrested after confessing to setting fire to an older unoccupied mobile home. He is currently being held at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin. Anyone with information about this case or any incident of fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).