CFO Atwater Encourages Floridians to Participate In Free Outreach Events During Consumer Protection Week
Contact: Alexis Lambert
TALLAHASSEE- Florida CFO Jeff Atwater is encouraging Floridians to learn more about how to protect themselves from scams by participating in National Consumer Protection Week 2011, which continues through Saturday, March 12. CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services is hosting or participating in 30 events around the state during the week to promote awareness, including workshops on identify theft, insurance needs when buying a home, and protecting seniors.
Floridians interested in getting details about an event or who would like to request an event in their area can log on to www.myfloridacfo.com/Consumers/OutReach/index.htm.
“My department works each day with consumers throughout Florida to assist them in recognizing and recovering from financial fraud, as well as educating them on how to protect themselves from scams,” said CFO Atwater. “We provide tools and resources, and assist consumers ranging from teens to seniors, to help them keep and protect their hard-earned money.”
CFO Atwater’s Division of Consumer Services has helped nearly 38,000 consumers in 2011 through his Consumer Helpline, so far recovering nearly $4 million in refunds and claims payments for consumers.
Over the last year, the division has provided more than 1,000 free community outreach programs on a variety of financial and insurance subjects. CFO Atwater’s key outreach initiatives this year include fighting insurance and financial fraud, supporting small business growth including assistance to businesses and the workforce who were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and helping homeowners and business owners prepare financially for hurricanes and other potential disasters.
In one instance, Consumer Services Helpline staff received a call regarding an insurance agent who misrepresented an annuity product he sold to a senior couple from the Panhandle. Helpline staff contacted the insurance company on their behalf to seek restitution for the couple. Through the department’s intervention, the insurance company returned the couple’s investment of approximately $100,000 plus interest.
In another example, a Coral Springs man called about his father’s home health care policy and complained that the company was repeatedly denying any further coverage even though the policy provided for it. When the department presented documentation indicating the coverage should be provided, the company approved an additional 1,460 days of home health coverage, totaling $219,000 of coverage.
Department staff have also been providing support for victims of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Throughout the past 10 months, claimants like Lynne Foster, owner of BeachPops in Pensacola Beach, and Gary and Ellen Eichler, owners of Satisfaction Guaranteed Fishing Charters in Naples, have utilized staff at the department to get help with their Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) claims.
For more information about how CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services can assist you or a calendar of outreach events throughout the state, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com. Consumers can also call (850) 413-3089 or toll-free 1-877-My-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) for assistance with questions or complaints. For more information on National Consumer Protection Week, visit www.consumer.gov.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services including the Division of Insurance Fraud. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.