Volume 8 Number 13  April 1, 2011

Dear Fellow Floridians:

April is Financial Literacy Month, and a recent survey released by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation underscores the need to promote financial and economic education in our state and across the nation. The study revealed that of the 500 Floridians surveyed 61 percent lacked a "rainy day" fund to cover expenses for three months, in case of emergencies such as sickness, job loss or an economic downturn.

The study also determined that 23 percent of Florida households were not making ends meet and spent more than their income over the past year, further emphasizing the need for Floridians to start saving now for a rainy day.

Throughout the month of April, my office will be hosting events across the state to promote financial literacy on topics including identity theft, hurricane preparedness, small business security, life insurance, financial fraud and much more.

For a schedule of events log on to our Family Fiscal Fitness website at www.myfloridacfo.com/FamilyFiscalFitness. I encourage you to attend one of these workshops and use this month to arm yourself with information you can use to make wise financial decisions.

Financial literacy is more than opening a bank account, learning how to use credit responsibly or planning for retirement, it is taking the steps to create the conditions for financial prosperity for you and your family.

Sincerely,

Jeff





Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


The Panhandle is Open for BusinessCharter fishermen meet with CFO Atwater

This week I returned to the Panhandle and had the opportunity to connect with community leaders, local businesses, local realtors, and charter fishermen. I was able to get on the ground feedback on how local businesses and communities are recovering. After stopping by local businesses such as The Back Porch and Fudpuckers in Destin, Mike’s Diner, Gulf Coast Panama Jack andMeeting with Realtors in Pensacola Pineapple Willy’s in Panama City and other local businesses, I am confident that the Panhandle is open for business.

I also met with a representative from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and expressed my deep concerns regarding the claims process. I shared the feedback I received to further ensure that businesses and residents of the Panhandle are getting theCFO Atwater at Panama Jack's compensation they rightly deserve. The lack of transparency by GCCF Director Ken Feinberg continues to be a black eye on the claims process.

It is my sincere hope that we can break through barriers Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Websitethat Mr. Feinberg continues to build, and make the residents of the Panhandle whole again.


Statement Regarding Statewide Drug Strike Force

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater on Monday released the following statement commending Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi for creating the Statewide Drug Strike Force.

“Pill mills have become a widespread epidemic in Florida, and it is going to take a coordinated approach to combat the glorified drug dealers who are taking over our state. I commend Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi for creating the Statewide Drug Strike Force, and I am committed to collaborating and providing the expertise of the Division of Insurance Fraud to assist in this crackdown on pill mills.”


Small Businesses Keep Our Economy Vibrant

On my trip this week to the Panhandle, I stopped into some local restaurants and enjoyed a variety of delicious Gulf seafood. After returning from my trip, I am confident that the Panhandle is open for business. Head to your local market or restaurant and enjoy fresh seafood from our Gulf waters.

CFO Atwater at Fudpuckers CFO Atwater at Mike's Diner

Chester Kroeger, left, owner of Fudpuckers in Destin

Mike Thomas, right, owner of Mike’s Diner and Thomas’ Donut Shop in Panama City Beach


Enforcement RoundupDivision of Insurance Fraud

This column will regularly highlight the work of the department’s enforcement divisions. This week’s column features the Division of Insurance Fraud, a sworn law enforcement agency within the Department of Financial Services responsible for Insurance Fraud Badgeinvestigating fraud in all lines of insurance. Following is a summary of two recent cases.

Forged Prescriptions Lead to Drug Trafficking, Insurance Fraud Charges

Janneral Denson, of Lake Worth, was arrested March 16 on charges of drug trafficking, possession of a controlled substance and insurance fraud after she wrote herself nearly $30,000 worth of prescriptions for Oxycontin/Oxycodone. She forged doctors’ signatures on the prescriptions while working at a Delray Beach doctor’s office. If convicted on the charges, Denson faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years and a $500,000 fine.

Defense Attorney Charged with Stealing Stolen Money

Nicolas Andres Manzini, a North Miami Beach attorney, was arrested in early March on a charge of grand theft after investigators determined that Manzini misappropriated funds he was supposed to be holding in escrow for a defendant accused of stealing the money, more than $88,000 total, through a mortgage fraud scheme. Investigators said Manzini took steps to avoid detection from law enforcement officers investigating the mortgage fraud scheme and lied to prosecutors about the money remaining in escrow. If convicted on the charge, Manzini faces up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.


Are Your Financial Goals Slipping Away? Then Make This Your First Goal

Financial TipsIf every time you sit down to look at your budget it seems like you are watching your financial goals slip further and further into the distance...

Pay off your debt.

Identify your debt, write it all down and put it in order from the smallest amount that you owe to the largest amount that you owe. Now you have your plan of attack. Start by talking with your smallest debt. Still owe $80 on that credit card? Pay it off first. Once you’ve paid that off, move on to the next highest debt.

Try to pay something beyond the minimum payment amount. When you pay only the minimum payment, you are steadily throwing your money into interest. Give your money real power by focusing as much as you can afford into paying off your debt.

Follow this strategy until you have paid off the largest debt that you have, and you will find you have taken back the reins on your financial future.