NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION WEEK IS FEBRUARY 6 -12, 2005
Each one of us is a consumer – and we all need help with a question or complaint from time to time.
This week is National Consumer Protection Week. While the focus of the week is on identity theft, the country’s fastest-growing crime, I believe it is also an opportunity to thank those who are committed to providing consumer assistance.
In all that we do at the Department of Financial Services, protecting the rights and interests of Floridians is our goal.
Our consumer specialists in the Division of Consumer Assistance helped more than 418,000 Floridians last year with information to questions, and opened 94,000 complaint files, almost half dealing with hurricane-related issues.
We were among the first response teams to report to Disaster Recovery Centers, and we staffed a special hurricane assistance line.
Sometimes the calls we get cross the line from complaint to report of a crime.
For several consecutive years the department’s Division of Insurance Fraud has led the nation in insurance fraud arrests and convictions.
Last year, investigators arrested 587 individuals for insurance fraud and related criminal activities.
Insurance fraud affects not only those individuals directly harmed, but every consumer pays for it through higher insurance premiums and higher costs for goods and services – as much as $1,400 a year for every Florida family.
The Division of State Fire Marshal also investigates crimes against Floridians – those that involve arson.
Millions of dollars of property are destroyed by fire every year – more than $265 million worth of damage in 2003 – and more than 100 Floridians die every year from fire-related injuries.
The Old Hernando County Courthouse, surrounded by grand old oak trees, was built in 1912 in the county seat of Brooksville.