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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

Every day, I try to find new ways to help keep money in the pockets of my fellow Floridians and ensure that whatever amount is entrusted to the function of Florida’s government is handled responsibly and efficiently. One such way I’m helping meet these goals is through my Bureau of Unclaimed Property.Unclaimed Property auction catalog cover

My Bureau of Unclaimed Property works tirelessly to identify the rightful owners of abandoned safe deposit boxes, annuities, insurance policies, deposits, bank accounts and other valuables and reunite them with dollars they may need to make ends meet. When this fails, merchandise is appraised and sold at our unclaimed property auctions, the proceeds of which are used to fund Florida’s schools. Should a property owner discover that he or she owned an item that was auctioned, the proceeds from the sale can be claimed any time at no cost.

Our next Unclaimed Property Auction begins one week from today with a showing of auction items. The actual auction will be the following day, Saturday, August 24, at the Fort Lauderdale Airport Hilton. This auction is open to the public and will feature more than 80,000 individual items, including jewelry, watches and rare coins, with a minimum reserve value in excess of $650,000. Notable items include a 5.82 karat diamond ring, an 8.6 karat diamond and gold watch, four American eagle gold bullion coins, a 59-piece sterling silver flatware set, and a $7 1776 continental currency note.

During the 2012–13 fiscal year, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property broke its all-time record in recovered property. A total of 327,313 claims were approved, reuniting $212 million in cash and property with Florida’s families. So if you can’t attend the auction, then at least visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org to see if you have any unclaimed property in our vault. There is a 1-in-4 chance that you or someone you know has treasure waiting to be discovered!

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: A good question on insurance costs

Tampa Bay Times: Tampa Bay home prices make highest year-over-year jump since housing boom

Be Wary When Buying or Selling Pension
or Settlement Income Streams

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and  Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) Commissioner Drew J. Breakspear want to caution Floridians about buying or selling pension or settlement income streams. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently issued an Investor Alert warning consumers about buying and selling pension or settlement income streams.SEC Investor Alerts

Persons receiving monthly pensions, including military and government retirees, as well as citizens who have received a large settlement such as a personal injury lawsuit may be targeted by salespeople offering an immediate lump sum in exchange for rights to some or all payments of a pension or settlement. In most cases, this payout will be drastically lower than the value of the future income stream.

"Floridians considering whether to buy or sell a pension or settlement income stream must do their research and be wary of questionable promises that might ultimately be detrimental to their financial future,” said CFO Atwater.

Floridians who suspect questionable practices should contact OFR to file a complaint. Consumers can file a complaint online at www.FLOFR.com or call OFR at (850) 487-9687.

Individuals providing investment advice or those who sell securities in Florida are required to be registered with  OFR. Before selling your rights or investing in someone else’s pension income, visit www.FLOFR.com, click on “Verify a License,” then select BrokerCheck or IAPD to obtain a detailed report of the offeror’s registration information and any disclosure events. In addition, check with your local Better Business Bureau to ensure the company has not received any complaints.

'Be Scam Smart' Workshop for Seniors

CFO Atwater is partnering with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office to offer a Be Scam Smart Workshop for seniors as part of his Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) initiative. This workshop is the third of seven Be Scam Smart workshops held in Florida in August. Operation S.A.F.E. You may register now for the workshop in the Brevard County area on Tuesday, August 20, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at One Senior Place, 8085 Spyglass Hill Road, Viera, FL 32940. Register Now

Operation S.A.F.E. helps protect seniors by educating them about scams such as fake lotteries and repair scams, and how these scams work. The initiative was launched in May with workshops in Cape Coral, Venice, Delray Beach, Clearwater, the Villages and Miami. Operation S.A.F.E. is part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative, which educates seniors on specific financial topics such as annuities, identity theft, reverse mortgages and long-term care insurance. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office participated in the August 14 workshop by discussing local scams affecting seniors such as the grandparent scam, telemarketing scams and contractor fraud.

To see a calendar of workshops, register for a workshop, or share a flyer with friends and family, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/SAFE or call the CFO’s Consumer Helpline at 877-MY-FL-CFO (877-693-5236).

Innovation Drives Florida's Economy

Florida has worked hard to create an environment for long-term growth and investment that allows businesses to better serve their communities and employ more of their neighbors. This culture of economic innovation has helped Florida Florida's Bottom Line: Innovative Florida be recognized as the “Most Innovative State in the Nation” by Fast Company magazine this year.

Beginning with this edition on biotechnology, Florida’s Bottom Line is presenting a three-part series on Innovative Florida, highlighting the people and industries that are driving our future as a diversified economy. We are now recognized as one of the most attractive areas worldwide for the biotechnology industry, with more than 200 biotechnology companies calling Florida home.

The quarterly edition of Florida's Bottom Line is complemented by its often-updated website, www.MyFloridaCFO.com/FloridasBottomLine. When new economic data is released, it can be found here. Florida's consumer confidence, retail index, employment statistics and various other resources will keep you up-to-date.