CFO Alex Sink's Consumer eViews Newsletter

Volume 5  Number 32  August 8, 2008

CONSUMER SERVICES HELPLINE 877-MY-FL-CFO



Fellow Floridians:

It is back-to-school time, and millions of parents are helping their children get ready for another rigorous academic year. No doubt, you are buying pencils, erasers, books, and countless other supplies to help your children get prepared.

Don’t forget to add health insurance to your list! In order to do well at school, children need to be healthy, and that means access to preventative health care. At Florida KidCare, you can purchase affordable health insurance for your children!

Did you know:

  • Florida KidCare is a public-private partnership that helps families purchase affordable health insurance for their children;

  • More than 1.4 million children currently have insurance through Florida KidCare;

  • Some of the services covered by Florida KidCare are doctor visits, check-ups and shots, hospital visits, surgery, prescriptions, emergencies, vision and hearing, dental visits, mental health and more;

  • Families pay based on their income level, with many working families paying $20 a month or less;

You can apply online at www.floridakidcare.org.

“We have a simple message: KidCare is open for business and is providing quality health insurance at an affordable price,” said CFO Sink, who chairs the Healthy Kids Board. “With Florida KidCare, many working families are ensuring their children have access to preventative health care.”


 

CFO SINK RECEIVES CHAMPION FOR BUSINESS AWARD

This week, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink became the first Cabinet member in history to receive a Champion for Business Award from the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF). While receiving the award, CFO Sink addressed the organization during a luncheon last Tuesday in Tallahassee.

Instituted in 2003, Champion for Business awards are given to dedicated leaders who support initiatives that help jumpstart the economy and encourage growth of Florida’s business. A Champion for Business is a strong elected official who promotes policies to grow Florida’s economy, increase competition and encourage prosperity for all citizens.


 

 

 

 


CFO SINK HONORS WINNERS OF SUSTAINABLE FLORIDA AWARDS

At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink honored the winners of the Sustainable Florida Awards.  Sustainable Florida awards are given to Floridians, businesses and governments who have made a commitment to a Sustainable Florida and have demonstrated exemplary leadership.

Sustainable Florida award winners promote the goals of a healthy environment, a prosperous economy, a satisfying quality of life, broad public participation, and vibrant, livable communities. 

This year, the Council for Sustainable Florida honored the following winners: CONTINUED


CFO Sink auctions unclaimed property

This bow-shaped platinum and yellow gold brooch with 393 diamonds and 93 sparkling rubies  sold for $16,000

CFO SINK: FLORIDA’S UNCLAIMED PROPERTY AUCTION RAISES RECORD FUNDS FOR FLORIDA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Auction draws hundreds and raises more than $925,000 for education

Bidders from around the nation descended on Tampa Bay last Saturday to find lost treasure at Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s annual Unclaimed Property Auction. Coordinated by CFO Sink’s Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Unclaimed Property (Bureau), the auction shattered previous auction records by raising $925,550 for Florida’s public schools — a $108,000 increase over last year.

“I am thankful to the Floridians who bid on the wonderful items up for auction and the members of our Bureau who worked so hard to make this event a success,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Bureau. “Not only did we raise a record-breaking $925,550 for Florida school children, we also raised awareness about our mission of reuniting Floridians with their unclaimed property.”

The Bureau’s first priority is to reunite Floridians with their lost property. Every year, the Bureau receives millions in assets and abandoned contents of safe deposit boxes, and has had tremendous success in finding owners. During Sink’s tenure as CFO, more than $322 million has been returned to the rightful owners (or heirs) of 496,374 accounts.

The Bureau spends up to two years searching for the rightful owners or heirs after receiving items in safe deposit boxes that have been abandoned at least three years. When owners or heirs cannot be found, the items are auctioned. While the proceeds from the auctioned items are transferred to the State School Trust Fund, the money is held in the original owners' name and can be claimed for free at any time. CONTINUED


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: EMERGENCY FUNDS

It is wise to establish and maintain an emergency fund.

Emergency funds are highly-liquid savings accounts you can tap to help pay for unplanned events— like job loss, home repairs or other unexpected expenses.

We purchase insurance to protect us during many of life’s emergencies, but it won’t cover everything. Many insurance policies require significant deductibles or co-pays before the insurance coverage kicks in.

Studies have shown that you are more likely to accumulate debt if you don’t establish an emergency savings account. Some people have a tendency to use high-interest credit cards or payday loans to cover emergencies.

It may seem difficult to include an emergency fund as a part of your budget, but the truth is you can’t afford not to have one. A good rule of thumb is to save enough to cover three months worth of expenses. Review your financial situation and start saving today.

 

MONEY IN YOUR POCKET - DON'T MISS OUT ON YOUR STIMULUS PAYMENT

Have you received your stimulus payment? More than 400,000 eligible Florida seniors and veterans have not filed for their stimulus checks. That’s more than $120 million that eligible Floridians are leaving on the table. The good news – it’s not too late!

If you want your stimulus payment, you need to file a tax return first. This is especially important for retirees and disabled veterans who don't normally need to file taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began sending out letters earlier this summer reminding eligible taxpayers who have not filed and extending the deadline to file until October 15, 2008.

“Many of Florida’s retirees, disabled citizens and veterans are entitled to an economic stimulus payment, but only if they request it by October 15, 2008,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.  CONTINUED


 

STATE FIRE COLLEGE HOLDS FIRST ANNUAL FIRE RESCUE CADET ACADEMY

Forty-six cadets and 10 advisors descended on the Florida State Fire College in Ocala for the first annual Fire Rescue Cadet Academy.

A section of the Florida Fire Chiefs Association, the cadet program was established to help train Florida’s future firefighters.

“It has been a pleasure having the cadets on our campus,” said Dave Casey, Bureau Chief of the Florida State Fire College. “We hope we have helped instill in them the motto of the program: Preparing Tomorrow’s Firefighters Today. We look forward to bringing back and growing the program next year."  CONTINUED


INSURANCE FRAUD: WHAT IS IT AND HOW DO I REPORT IT?

Each year, insurance fraud costs companies and consumers alike tens of billions of dollars. In order to better identify and reduce incidents of insurance fraud — and, most important, protect consumers — the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers the following tips for identifying and responding to insurance fraud.

What Is Insurance Fraud?
Insurance fraud occurs when an insurance company, agent, adjuster or consumer commits a deliberate deception in order to obtain an illegitimate gain. It can occur during the process of buying, using, selling or underwriting insurance.

What Types of Insurance Fraud Are There?
Fake insurance companies defraud consumers by collecting premiums for bogus policies with no intention of paying claims. These “companies” might offer policies at costs that are significantly lower than competitors’ prices or they might be difficult to reach by phone — if there is a listed phone number at all. Consumers should check in advance that they are dealing with a legitimate, licensed insurer before signing an application for a policy. Your state insurance department can provide licensing information for a company or agent. For a link to your state insurance department Web site, go to www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm. CONTINUED