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

Dear Fellow Floridian:

Today marks the final day of the 2012 Legislative Session.

Over the past 60 days, our legislative leaders have fought hard for their fellow Floridians.

This legislative body, with each chamber’s unique personality, stayed the course to ensure that no new tax or fee burdens the people of Florida, falling upon their shoulders or the shoulders of those who are business owners.

It is clear that Florida’s elected leaders are committed to fostering economic success and reducing financial burdens.

I’d like to personally thank our legislators for supporting and passing key priorities I proposed this session to increase transparency, protect consumers from identity theft and help fight auto insurance fraud and reduce regulatory burdens.

These reforms are aimed at protecting your hard-earned dollars, and I am proud of what we have accomplished together.

I look forward to seeing these bills signed into law over the coming months.

As always, I value your feedback and I encourage you to connect with me via my website, Facebook and Twitter to let me know how we are doing and what we can do to serve you better.

Read the CFO's special message after passage of the PIP reform bill.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

CFO Launches On Guard for Seniors

Urging Floridians to participate in Consumer Protection Week, which continues through Saturday, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater launched On Guard for Seniors, a new website intended to educate senior consumers about financial and insurance issues impacting our state’s fastest-growing population. On Guard for Seniors

“Through my years in the financial community and as an elected representative, I’ve learned that more often than not it is our seniors who are most vulnerable to financial fraud,” CFO Atwater said. “Seniors are inundated with offers of financial stability while being exposed to fraud artists targeting their life savings. Together we can all help ensure our seniors have the tools and resources to make informed financial decisions that best suit their needs both today and for the future.”

The website, www.MyFloridaCFO.com/OnGuard, includes information about annuities, reverse mortgages, long-term care insurance and identity theft.

News of Interest

Miami Herald: Florida Women’s Business Center helps budding women entrepreneurs

Tampa Bay Times: Forbes says Spanx's Sarah Blakely, of Clearwater, is world's youngest self-made female billionaire

Fort Myers News-Press: Florida will renew back-to-school sales tax holiday

Miami Herald: Program helps unemployed land jobs

Forbes: Cloud Will Generate 14 Million Jobs By 2015

Tampa Bay Times: 10 Florida companies among "world's most admired"

Florida Today: Manufacturing shows strength in Brevard

Warning about Unclaimed Property Scam

CFO Atwater is warning consumers of an emerging scam related to the retrieval of unclaimed property. A company calling themselves The Florida Department of Financial Restitution has been contacting consumers claiming to be on contract with CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services and offering to reunite them with unclaimed property for an upfront fee of $600.

There is no legal entity named The Florida Department of Financial Restitution.

“These scam artists are trying to defraud consumers out of their hard-earned dollars by using deceitful practices and peddling a service that my department offers free of charge,” CFO Atwater said. “Consumers who are contacted by this fraudulent company should not agree to this offer, sign a contract or send any money to the Florida Department of Financial Restitution.”Unclaimed Property

Consumers who are contacted by this fraudulent company are encouraged to contact the department’s Division of Consumer Services by calling 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) to report the scam.

Currently, the Chief Financial Officer holds unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $1 billion. Consumers can search for unclaimed property by accessing the department’s website at FLTreasureHunt.org or calling (888) 258-2253 or (850) 413-5555.

Arrests in Tampa for PIP Fraud

Chief Financial Officer Atwater announced the arrests of Tampa clinic employees on charges of insurance fraud and patient brokering stemming from a personal injury protection (PIP) fraud scheme. These arrests come just one day after three clinic employees were arrested on the same charges at a separate clinic in Tampa. Division of Insurance Fraud Badge

“Florida’s consumer can not bear the burden of a billion-dollar-a-year fraud tax any longer,” CFO Atwater said.

This case is part of a continuing crackdown by CFO Atwater’s Division of Insurance Fraud in the fight against auto insurance fraud in Florida. Under CFO Atwater’s leadership, the Division has arrested 475 individuals for PIP fraud, a more than 40 percent increase from 2010. Anyone with information regarding suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Individuals who provide tips can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.

Florida's Economic Inside Track

Read the quarterly newsletter for the inside track on Florida's financial health. To provide up-to-date information on Florida’s economy, we have a companion website featuring the latest data and easy access to our published editions.

Man Charged with Arson, Insurance Fraud

CFO and State Fire Marshal Atwater announced the arrest of Christopher KoepkeState Fire Marshal badge of Jacksonville after a joint investigation involving the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations , Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Division of Insurance Fraud and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms determined that Koepke set fire to five vehicles and an apartment building hoping to collect insurance money on the damage to the contents of his apartment from the fire.

“This man intentionally endangered the lives of others in an attempt for personal gain through insurance fraud,” CFO Atwater said. “Anyone who attempts any form of arson will be put behind bars. I’m proud of the work done by my office and Jacksonville fire and law enforcement professionals to bring these individuals to justice.”

To report arson, call 1-877-No-Arson (1-877-662-7766). A reward of up to $5,000 may be paid for a tip that leads directly to an arrest and conviction.