FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER TOM GALLAGHER'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Volume 3, Number 38, September 18, 2006
In recent weeks, the Department of Financial Services has
announced actions against several insurance agents who stole hard-earned
money from their customers, including a dozen agents who “slid” hundreds of
dollars in unwanted and unnecessary coverage to auto insurance buyers.
Consumers can protect themselves from insurance scams by:
- Making sure that the insurance company selling the
product is authorized to do business in Florida.
- Making sure that the insurance agent is authorized to
sell insurance products in Florida.
- Reading and understanding all documents before
signing to make sure that the coverage you want – and only the coverage
you want – is being sold to you.
- Writing the premium check to the insurance company,
not the insurance agent.
- Verifying that the insurance coverage has been placed
by following up with the insurance company after signing a contract with
your agent. This step is important no matter how long you have been
doing business with an agent.
Taking these simple precautions
will help protect you and give you and your family peace of mind.
-- Tom Gallagher
GALLAGHER URGES CONTRACTORS TO SIGN UP TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MY SAFE
FLORIDA HOME PROGRAM
Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, has announced that
licensed contractors who do retrofit improvements can now apply on-line to
participate in the My Safe Florida Home program. The application to
participate is available under "For Contractors" at
“Our mission is to strengthen homes in Florida against the devastating
effects of storm damage,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of
Financial Services. “Contractors who participate in this program will play a
key role in better protecting families and properties from catastrophic
Prior to participating, a contractor must have a valid contractor’s license
and complete a four-hour course on techniques and standards for effective
wind-resistant retrofit improvements. The Department of Financial Services
has been working with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) to offer
these courses around the state over the next few months. The first class,
which is approved by the Florida Department of Business and Professional
Regulation for four continuing education credits, was conducted on August
29th in St. Petersburg.
“The Blueprint for Safety Retrofit training courses will expand the team of
qualified, ready builders who can provide essential hurricane-hardening
services to Floridians through the My Safe Florida Home program,” said FLASH
President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson.
Upcoming trainings have been scheduled for interested contractors in the
• September 20 in Ft. Lauderdale -Fort Lauderdale Marriott North
• September 21 in Miami - Robert Morgan Educational Center
• September 22 in Lake Worth - Palm Beach Community College
• September 25 in Pensacola - Pensacola Junior College
• September 26 in Jacksonville - Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center
All contractor trainings will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m.
Although facilities have not yet been secured, additional trainings are
tentatively scheduled for Orlando on October 10, Tampa on October 17, Ft.
Myers on October 18, Naples on October 19, and Miami on October 20. For
additional details, log on to www.flash.org.
Homeowners who have undergone free home inspections through the My Safe
Florida Home program, and who live in high-risk areas, will be able to apply
for matching grant dollars up to $5,000 under the program. The grant funds
must be used to strengthen the areas of the homes specified in the
To do the recommended improvements, homeowners will be required to choose
from a list of participating contractors, organized by county and type of
work performed. The list of participating contractors will be available
on-line at www.mysafefloridahome.com by October 1. The list will also be
sent to eligible Floridians in the grant application packet.
Gallagher is urging all homeowners interested in making home-hardening
improvements to verify that the contractors they are doing business with are
licensed. For more tips to consider before hiring a contractor, log on to
www.mysafefloridahome.com and click on “5 Tips for Choosing a Contractor.”
Since August 15, more than 45,000 Floridians have submitted completed
applications to receive a free home inspection through the My Safe Florida
Home program. Gallagher’s goal is to do 12,000 inspections before this
hurricane season ends on November 30.
GALLAGHER REVOKES LICENSE OF AGENT WHO STOLE
PREMIUMS FROM A NURSING HOME AND OTHER BUSINESSES
Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, has revoked the license of
an Altamonte Springs insurance agent who stole more than $300,000 in
premiums from a nursing home and various other businesses throughout central
and southwest Florida.
Brian Alan King, 58, served as an officer and director of Florida Corporate
Insurers, Inc., located at 225 South Westmonte Dr. in Altamonte Springs. An
investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Agent and
Agency Services, Bureau of Investigation, determined that King
misappropriated the money from July 2005 through April 2006. The agency
closed in June 2006.
“Any agent who puts his clients at risk for his own personal gain should be
banned from working in this industry,” said Gallagher, who oversees the
Department of Financial Services. “I commend the investigators who worked
quickly to protect these businesses from further harm. We will continue to
aggressively pursue anyone who tries to take advantage of our citizens.”
King failed to forward premium funds to the appropriate insurance companies,
which created a lapse in insurance coverage. The department worked with the
various insurance carriers involved to get the policies reinstated.
“We are relieved that we were able to get coverage for those victimized by
this agent,” Gallagher said.
Anyone who believes they may also be a victim of this scam is urged to call
the Department of Financial Services’ Consumer Assistance Hotline at
The department’s Division of Agent & Agency Services, Bureau of
Investigation, investigates various forms of insurance agent violations
concerning health, life, auto property, workers compensation, bail bonds and
SEPTEMBER PROCLAIMED FLORIDA
Governor Bush has proclaimed September 2006 as
"Florida Preparedness Month". During the month
of September, events will be held across Florida
to raise awareness on the
importance of preparing for all hazards - from
natural disasters to domestic security threats.
Every Floridian should have a family disaster
plan and disaster supply kit. Prepared residents
enable government to focus on the needs of
Florida's most vulnerable populations.
For more information on preparedness and how
you can GET A PLAN!, please visit:
THINK TANKS RELEASE EDUCATION FINDINGS
The Hoover Institution's Koret Task Force declared education reform in
Florida is producing noticeable learning gains for students.
Coming on the heels of their findings, the Manhattan Institute's
second-year data released also confirms the outstanding results retention
policies and education reforms are having in Florida. Their findings are an
affirmation of what Florida has known for some time: when schools are made
accountable for student achievement, students learn and schools improve.
The Koret Task Force's recommendations and the complete report can be
The Manhattan Institute study on social promotion can be
CLAIM TO BE FROM THE FDIC
E-mails that fraudulently claim to be from the FDIC are requesting that
recipients provide highly sensitive personal information, including bank
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has become aware of
e-mails appearing to be from the FDIC asking recipients to register for a
"SON – Secure Online Network" code. The e-mail requests that recipients
click on a hyperlink to initiate "SON" registration in an attempt to acquire
the recipients' personal financial information. These e-mails are fraudulent
and were not sent by the FDIC. Financial institutions and consumers should
NOT access the link provided within the body of these e-mails and should
NOT, under any circumstances, provide any personal financial information
through this media.
The fraudulent e-mails describe a fictitious relationship between the
FDIC and GoldLeaf Financial Solutions and suggest that the FDIC collaborated
in the development of SON. The e-mails state that "SON":
- is "dedicated to protect payment cards against online fraud";
- "assigns a unique code to a payment card, therefore replacing random
parts of the personal information"; and
- is "required for FDIC claims as it is part of the FDIC's new set of
Variations of the e-mails have been reported. For example, at least three
different subject lines are currently being used, including "Urgent
Notification - Security Reminder," "Online Access Agreement Update," and
"SON Registration." Some versions of the fraudulent e-mails include a
salutation of "Dear FDIC beneficiary," while other versions include the
recipient's name and e-mail address after the word "Dear." Some versions of
the e-mails include the recipient's name and mailing address and a statement
that "your personal information did not match any SON code." Other subject
lines and modifications to the e-mails may occur over time.
Financial institutions and consumers should be aware that other similar
e-mails may be sent that falsely claim to be from the FDIC. The FDIC does
not directly contact consumers in this manner nor does the FDIC request
personal financial information from consumers.
The FDIC is attempting to identify the source of the fraudulent e-mails
and disrupt the transmission. Until this is achieved, consumers and
financial institutions should notify the FDIC at
of any similar attempts to obtain personal financial information.
Information about counterfeit items, cyber-fraud incidents and other
fraudulent activity may be forwarded to the FDIC's Cyber-Fraud and Financial
Crimes Section, 550 17th Street, N.W., Room F-4004, Washington, D.C. 20429,
or transmitted electronically to
Information related to federal deposit insurance or consumer issues should
be submitted to the FDIC using an online form that can be accessed at
Consumer Services HelpLine (800) 342-2762