FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Volume 5, Number 28, July 11,
This week, CFO Alex Sink announced a
plan to consolidate the Department of Financial Services’
(DFS) eleven consumer call centers, resulting in an
estimated taxpayer savings of $5 million over the next five
years. Florida TaxWatch called this “exactly the kind of
savings our leaders should be implementing to better serve
the people of Florida.”
As a reader of CFO Sink’s
eViews, you join over half a million Floridians
currently receiving a weekly update on important work and
announcements like this one that can save you time or money.
Whether events, notifications, or money saving tips, this
newsletter gets information directly to those who need it
The eViews newsletter also offers a link to
where you have access to the thirteen divisions and programs
available to Floridians as well as information for
consumers, agents and adjusters, employers, and state
After announcing her tax savings plan, CFO Sink said the
“people in our state are looking for innovative and
effective ways of increasing productivity, while not
sacrificing customer service.”
Thank you for reading CFO Sink’s eViews and for your
interest in the critical issues affecting Floridians.
CFO SINK TO APPEAR ON DATELINE NBC
CFO Alex Sink will be featured on NBC’s Dateline NBC Monday
night at 10 p.m. Tune in as Tiki Barber leads a team of 'on-air detectives,'
including NBC News' Peter Alexander and Tamron Hall, as they cross the
country helping states crack some of their toughest, unsolved cases.
Dateline NBC assisted CFO Sink’s Bureau of Unclaimed
Property in tracking down the heirs of an invaluable medal of service,
which was turned over to the State of Florida.
Tune in to "You Might Be Rich!" Monday at 10pmET/PT on
NBC and visit
www.FLTreasureHunt.org to see if you have a missing treasure.
CFO SINK ANNOUNCES PLAN TO CUT
$5 MILLION BY CONSOLIDATING STATE CALL CENTERS
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced a plan
to consolidate the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS)
eleven consumer call centers, resulting in an estimated
taxpayer savings of $5 million over the next five years. CFO
Sink’s plan calls for two high-quality service centers in
Tallahassee and Largo to improve service and increase
The call center consolidation is consistent with CFO Sink’s
direction to ensure responsible stewardship of state funds,
and the Florida Legislature’s directive to state agencies to
find operational reductions to help balance the state’s
“The people in our state are looking for innovative and
effective ways of increasing productivity, while not
sacrificing customer service,” said CFO Sink, who oversees
the department. “Over the next five years, this plan will
save millions in tax dollars and set a new standard for
government efficiency in tight economic times.”
CFO SINK SWEARS IN NEW LAW
On Monday, CFO Sink joined State Senator Bill Posey in
opening an innovative Insurance Fraud Academy for investigators within
the Divisions of Insurance Fraud and Workers' Compensation, in addition
to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Located at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy in Quincy,
investigators will participate in an eight-week course aimed at
increasing effectiveness of anti-fraud efforts across the state.
Graduates of the academy will be better trained and more prepared to
protect Florida citizens. While congratulating the first class of
participants, CFO Sink also swore in detectives from both divisions and
promoted five Captains.
My Family CFO
Idea: Be sure your home is
protected from a flood
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,
In the midst of hurricane season,
Florida residents should take the time to prepare themselves and their homes
for possible flooding.
As a homeowner, there are a variety of things you can do to
protect your property against floods. Florida flood maps are issued by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency and are available at
Many Floridians are surprised to learn that homeowners'
insurance may not cover flood damage.
Homeowners' insurance usually covers damage from wind, but
not from flooding. If you desire flood insurance
coverage, you must purchase a separate flood insurance policy.
You can purchase these policies from the federal
government through private insurance agents and agencies.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) establishes one set of
policy terms and rates for the various flood insurance
policies. As a result, comparison-shopping for flood
insurance is not necessary, but a buyer should carefully
discuss and review the conditions and requirements of the
applicable flood insurance policy with his or her agent.
Information on flood insurance is available at
www.floodsmart.gov or you can contact the NFIP
directly at (888) 379-9531. However, unless you are purchasing insurance in
connection with a new home or refinancing a mortgage, you should be advised
there is a standard 30-day waiting period from the day of purchase before a
new flood policy goes into effect.
IT'S STORM SEASON, FLORIDA
The first hurricane of the season has formed and is an important reminder
about the importance of being prepared. From June 1 through November 30,
Floridians should keep a watchful eye on the weather , especially if a
storm is developing.
If you haven't already, now is the time to review and
update your insurance policies, develop an emergency communication
plan, make a hurricane preparedness kit, and create a home inventory.
CFO Sink has prepared a financial tool kit for Floridians to help them
The kit provides essential financial information and a complete set of
documents to aid in recovery. Print
it out to get the financial tools you need. You may
have a tool kit mailed to you by calling our Consumer Helpline at
For additional about how to prepare for a storm, visit
DON'T WAIT - SIGN UP NOW FOR YOUR MY SAFE
FLORIDA HOME WIND INSPECTION
As of Friday, July 11, 2008, the popular first-come, first-serve My Safe
Florida Home (MSFH) program has less than 5,000 free wind inspections remaining for
eligible Florida homeowners. If you have not already
on this link to fill out the application for your wind inspection now.
The Florida Legislature directed the MSFH program to provide wind
inspections for at least 400,000 site-built, single-family
homes and the program expects to exceed that goal in the next few days.
The program previously met its goals for awarding matching grants in May
after providing grants to at
least 35,000 applicants.
Participating homeowners receive a free wind inspection
report, which suggests ways homeowners can harden their
homes against storm damage and informs homeowners if they
are currently eligible to save money on their wind insurance
premiums. To date, 58 percent of homeowners who have
received a free wind inspection were eligible for discounts
on their wind insurance premiums, averaging $219.31
SCAMMERS USE EMAIL, FAX TO POSE AS IRS
The Internal Revenue Service cautions taxpayers to be on the lookout for a
new wave of scams using the IRS name in identity theft e-mails, or phishing,
that have circulated during the last two months.
In May and June alone, taxpayers reported almost 700 separate phishing
incidents to the IRS. In 2008 so far, taxpayers have reported about 1,600
phishing incidents to the IRS.
“Taxpayers should take steps to keep their personal information out of the
hands of identity thieves,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “That
includes not falling for any of the phony e-mails or faxes now in
circulation pretending to come from the IRS.”
The most common scams involve tax refunds and, this year, economic stimulus
Although most of these scams consist of e-mails requesting detailed personal
information, the IRS generally does not send e-mails to taxpayers, does not
discuss tax account matters with taxpayers in e-mails, and does not request
security-related personal information, such as PIN numbers, from taxpayers.
Refund e-Mail Scam
There are several variations of the refund scam, in which an e-mail claiming
to come from the IRS falsely informs the recipient that he or she is
eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount. The bogus e-mail instructs
the recipient to click on a link to access a refund claim form. The form
requests personal information that the scammers can use to access the e-mail
recipient’s bank or credit card account.
This notification is phony. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mail about
tax account matters to taxpayers.
Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund; there is no
separate application form. Taxpayers who wish to find out if they are due a
refund from their last annual tax return filing may use the “Where’s My
Refund?” interactive application on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov, the only
official IRS Web site.
Economic Stimulus Payments Scam
In this scam, a taxpayer receives an e-mail pretending to come from the IRS
which tells the recipient he or she is eligible for an economic stimulus
payment. The message recommends direct deposit into the taxpayer’s checking
or savings account. To receive the payment, recipients must click on a link
to complete and submit an online form by a certain date; otherwise, the
e-mail warns, payment may be delayed. The form requests personal and
financial data, including checking or savings account numbers that the
scammers can use to gain access to the accounts.
In reality, the way members of the public receive their economic stimulus
payment is to file a tax return with the IRS, not a special form.
Additionally, the IRS does not request personal or financial information via
Information on how to obtain an economic stimulus payment may be found in
the Economic Stimulus Payment Information Center on the IRS Web site
(www.irs.gov). For more information on stimulus-related scams, see
Substitute Form 1040 Fax Scam
This scam consists of a cover letter and form that are faxed, rather than
e-mailed. The cover letter is addressed “Dear Valued Tax Payer (sic)” and
appears to be signed by an IRS employee. The letter says that the IRS is
updating its files and that recipients who supply the requested information
will receive a nominal tax refund. It also states that those who fail to
immediately return the completed form risk additional tax and withholding.
The attached form is labeled a substitute Form 1040 and is titled
“Certificate of Current Status of Beneficial Owner For United States Tax
Recertification & Withholding.” It requests a large amount of detailed
personal and financial information, such as mother’s maiden name (often used
in security screening), bank account numbers, estimated assets and more. It
asks the recipient to sign and fax back the completed form, as well as a
copy of the recipient’s driver’s license and passport.
The letter, signature and form are all fraudulent. Moreover, the IRS does
not send unsolicited faxes to taxpayers and does not request such detailed
personal and financial information.
This is a variant of earlier scams. For more information, see news releases
IR-2004-104 and IR-2004-75.
Company Report Scam
This e-mail appears to come from an IRS.gov e-mail address, addresses
recipients by name and references the company the recipient works for. These
personalized details may convince the recipient that the e-mail is
legitimate. The e-mail says that the IRS has a report on the company and
asks the recipient to review a copy by clicking on a link to download the
report. However, when the link is clicked, malware is downloaded to the
There are various types of malware, which can hijack a victim’s computer
hard drive to give someone remote access to the computer, search for
passwords and other information and send them to the scammer, or cause other
types of identity theft or damage.
The IRS does not compile reports on companies or send e-mails to company
staff asking them to review a report. Generally, the IRS does not send
unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers.
Tax Court Scam
In this scam, an e-mail that appears to come from the U.S. Tax Court
contains a petition involving a court case between the IRS and the
recipient. The document instructs the recipient to download other files. The
downloads transfer malware, or malicious code, to the recipient’s computer.
There are various types of malware, which, for example, can hijack a
victim’s computer hard drive to give someone remote access to the computer,
or can search for passwords and other information and send them to the
The truth is that the Tax Court is not e-mailing notices to anyone who
currently has a case before the court. Visit the court’s Web site at
http://www.ustaxcourt.gov/ for more information. Recipients are advised to
avoid clicking on any links in the e-mail and to delete the e-mail.
How Scams Work
To lure their victims, phishing scams use the name of a known institution,
such as the IRS, to either offer a reward for taking a simple action, such
as providing information, or threaten or imply an unpleasant consequence,
such as losing a refund, for failing to take the requested action.
The goal of the scams is to trick people into revealing personal and
financial information, such as Social Security, bank account or credit card
numbers, which the scammers can use to commit identity theft.
Typically, identity thieves use a victim’s personal and financial data to
empty the victim’s financial accounts, run up charges on the victim’s
existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services or
benefits in the victim’s name, file fraudulent tax returns or even commit
crimes. Most of these fraudulent activities can be committed electronically
from a remote location, including overseas. Committing these activities in
cyberspace allows scammers to act quickly and cover their tracks before the
victim becomes aware of the theft.
People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years — and
their hard-earned money — cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their
reputations and credit records. In the meantime, victims may lose job
opportunities or may be refused loans, education, housing or cars.
What to Do
Anyone wishing to access the IRS Web site should type www.irs.gov into their
Internet address window, rather than clicking on a link in an e-mail or
opening an attachment, either of which may download malicious code or send
the recipient to a phony Web site.
Those who have received a questionable e-mail claiming to come from the IRS
may forward it to the following address:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the instructions contained in an article on
IRS.gov titled “How to Protect Yourself from Suspicious E-Mails or Phishing
Schemes.” Following the instructions will help the IRS track the suspicious
e-mail to its origins and shut down the scam. Find the article by visiting
IRS.gov and entering the words “suspicious e-mails” into the search box in
the upper right corner of the front page.
Those who have received a questionable telephone call that claims to come
from the IRS may also use the
email@example.com mailbox to notify the IRS.
The IRS has issued previous warnings on scams that use the IRS name to lend
the scam legitimacy. More information on identity theft, phishing and
telephone scams using the IRS name, logo or spoofed (copied) Web site is
available on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov. Enter the terms “phishing,”
“identity theft” or “e-mail scams” into the search box in the upper right
corner of the front page.
CFO SINK: PUTNAM COUNTY VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER
SUSPECTED ON CHARGES OF ARSON
State Fire Marshal Alex Sink Friday announced the arrest of
a Putnam County volunteer firefighter on charges of
Detectives from the State Fire Marshal’s Office arrested
Charles M. Jones III, 19, for first degree arson. White is a
volunteer firefighter with the Georgetown Volunteer Fire
Department within Putnam County.
White was arrested after confessing to setting fire to an
older unoccupied mobile home. He is currently being held at the Putnam
County Sheriff’s Office.
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law
enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal
that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement
agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin.
Anyone with information about this case or any incident of
fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).
Consumer Services Helpline