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

Dear Fellow Floridian:

Florida is currently home to more than 1.6 million veterans and 58,000 active duty military personnel. There is no greater commitment than the one these men and women have chosen to make. Thank you for your steadfast dedication to preserve and protect our nation’s principles and freedoms. USS Cole and CFO Atwater

I am honored to have many veterans, active duty and reserve personnel working at the Department of Financial Services.

This weekend, I will be featuring some of their stories on my social media pages at www.facebook.com/cfojeffatwater or www.twitter.com/jeffatwater. These stories will just be a few examples of the many stories from veterans across our state. If you are a veteran or are currently serving, please feel free to share your story on my Facebook wall at www.facebook.com/cfojeffatwater.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” The American veteran embodies this quote.

We are proud and grateful to the men and women who have defended America’s founding principles of freedom and liberty. They have served our nation with dignity and bravery, always standing ready to defend our flag wherever it waves. This Veterans Day we honor our courageous veterans, and we are proud to call them patriots.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

ABC Action News: Insurance fraud crackdown helps nab dozens of bogus car crashers

St. Petersburg Times: Governor says he'll look to Hillsborough for crackdown on auto insurance fraud

Miami Herald: At 108, a South Florida WWII veteran boogies on his birthday

Patch.com: Fraud-Prevention Tips for Seniors

Orlando-Sentinel: Orlando residents accused of staging car crash, insurance fraud

Palm Beach Post: Firms in West Palm Beach, Riviera to add 120 workers

Associated Press: New Florida bill would end NFL blackouts

Florida Trend: Florida Lottery: Upping the Ante

Orlando Sentinel: Businesses spend big to influence hotel-tax fight

Sun-Sentinel: Florida ranks 4th in women-owned businesses

Orlando Sentinel: SeaWorld to unveil big expansion: 3 new attractions

Miami Herald: International tide lifts South Florida real estate market

Miami Herald: What drives serial entrepreneurs

Sun-Sentinel: South Florida workers making 1.7 percent more in wages than year ago

Fraud Detective BadgePIP Consumer Roundtable in Tampa

On Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott and I met with local insurance consumers in Tampa to discuss issues surrounding auto insurance fraud, specifically, Personal Injury Protection fraud that has become a statewide epidemic. PIP Consumer Roundtable in Tampa

This meeting in Tampa is the fourth stop in a series of roundtables that we are organizing in the hardest hit areas of our state. The valuable feedback we receive will help our leaders in Tallahassee take bold action during the 2012 Legislative Session. I am thankful that these consumers took the time out of their busy day to meet with us and I’m ready to go to bat for them this session to decrease their auto insurance premiums.

Tips to Avoid Flood Vehicle Fraud

Florida consumers looking to buy a used vehicle along the Eastern coast should have a professional thoroughly examine the vehicle for possible flood damage.NICB National Insurance Crime Bureau

Hurricane Irene caused flooding from Maine to North Carolina, and we all saw the pictures of flooded homes, streets and cars. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported that during last August alone, 11,789 flood vehicle-related claims were processed. This compares with 994 processed in August of 2010. New Jersey generated the most claims - 4,121 - followed by New York (2,809) and North Carolina (2,585).

While it is legal to sell a previously flooded vehicle when disclosure is made, unfortunately some dealers may not be honest and most buyers don’t know what to look for. A flood-damaged vehicle can eventually require costly repairs and potentially pose life-threatening risks.

If the car is priced well below retail, that could be an indicator the car has been flooded or damaged. The NICB recommends that consumers follow these tips to avoid getting ripped off by flood vehicle fraud:

  • Select a reputable car dealer.
  • Inspect the vehicle for water stains, mildew, sand or silt under the carpets, floor mats, headliner cloth and behind the dashboard.
  • Check for recently shampooed carpet.
  • Inspect the interior upholstery and door panels for fading.
  • Check for rust on screws in the console or areas where water normally doesn’t reach.
  • Check for mud or grit in the spare tire compartment, alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses, around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.
  • Check inside the seatbelt retractors by pulling the seatbelt all the way out and inspect for moisture, mildew or grime.
  • Check door speakers as they will often be damaged due to flooding.
  • Have a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle prior to purchasing it.
  • Ask about the vehicle's history. Ask whether it was in any accidents or floods.
  • Inspect the title and ownership papers for any potential salvage fraud.
  • Conduct a title search of the vehicle at https://www.nicb.org/.
  • Look under the hood for signs of oxidation. Pull back rubber boots around electrical and mechanical connections and look for these indicators: ferrous materials will show signs of rust; copper will show a green patina.
  • Aluminum and alloys will have a white powder coating and pitting.
  • Trust your instincts. If you don’t like the answers or the deal sounds too good to be true, walk away!

If you suspect flood vehicle fraud, call the NICB Hotline at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). You may also text your information to TIP411, keyword “FRAUD” and remain anonymous if you so desire.