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

Dear Fellow Floridian:

Identity theft is a serious crime that has long-lasting and far-reaching impacts on its victims. December is Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month, which serves as a critical call to action for each of us to learn more about to how recognize and prevent this crime that impacted nearly 70,000 Floridians last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Identity theft can leave victims unable to purchase a home, buy a car or even get a job, and with the ever-increasing need to use the Internet, identity theft concerns are escalating. I encourage all Floridians to visit our OnDemand Library, which offers educational presentations featuring steps to help prevent your identity or your business’ identity from being stolen. Our online library also provides information on ways to better protect your company’s assets from being compromised.OnDemand Library

Identity theft affects consumers both young and old, from the theft of a child’s social security number to the use of account numbers belonging to the deceased. Business identity theft has also become an epidemic as criminals search for information online in order to assume a business identity giving them authority to apply for credit and purchase inventory.

Remain vigilant about protecting your identity. Taking steps to safeguard your personal and business information can spare you an uphill battle to restore your good name. Do your part to prevent becoming a victim of this crime.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Forbes: How to keep the Grinch from stealing your identity

Orlando Sentinel: More Florida teachers earn top ratings

NASDAQ: How Facebook boosted Small Business Saturday

Miami Herald: New website allows deep dive into business data

Associated Press: Construction spending up in October

Associated Press: U.S. jobless claims plunge, as layoffs slow

Clay County Woman Arrested for Disability Insurance Fraud Scheme

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater on Thursday announced the arrest of Erica Huffman, 32, of Middleburg for forging documents in support of a nearly $50,000 disability insurance fraud scheme. An investigation revealed that Huffman forged doctor’s treatment forms and medical affidavits in support of her fraudulent Insurance Fraud Badgeshort term disability insurance claims.

“Insurance fraud drives up rates for all Floridians,” said CFO Atwater. “I applaud our investigators for their hard work in bringing this fraudster to justice.”

Huffman allegedly submitted 32 fraudulent reimbursement claims from December 2008 to October 2012. In order to receive payments for her claim, she forged her employer’s signature on employer verification statements and created fake supporting documents for medical care that never took place. She acquired the doctors’ names randomly on the Internet.

Huffman was released from St. Johns County Jail on November 26, 2013, on unrelated charges and was then transported to Duval County Jail. If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison.

Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $342,000 to more than 50 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.

Florida Economic Briefs

U.S. Economy Adds 203,000 Jobs in November, Jobless Rate Falls to Lowest Level Since ‘08
The American economy added 203,000 jobs in November, higher than the 180,000 Wall Street anticipated. The unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage point to 7%, the lowest level since November 2008, while economists expected the rate to fall less to 7.2%. The labor force participation rate, which gauges the proportion of the population employed or seeking employment, rose to 63% from 62.8% in October.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Florida economy projected to grow faster than U.S. in next six months
According to Florida’s leading index, the state economy is forecast to grow by 2.2% over the next months while the national economy is projected to grow at a slower rate of 1.4% during the same time. Florida’s growth rate has been higher than the U.S. for 5 consecutive months. Further, the latest Beige Book, which reports on current economic activity, stated that tourism and housing continue to be bright spots for Florida.

Source: Philadelphia Federal Reserve/ Federal Reserve Beige Book

Small business lending rises to highest level in 6 years
U.S. small businesses boosted borrowing in October to its highest level in over six years, according to the Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index. Historically, small business lending has correlated to overall economic growth one or two quarters in the future, and this increase in borrowing could be a harbinger of increased hiring ahead.

Source: Thomson Reuters/ Paynet Small Business Lending Index

Florida's Bottom Line on Innovative Florida - Aerospace and AviationInside the latest issue of Florida's Bottom Line, you’ll find expert commentary on Florida’s efforts to create and lead the next generation of innovation in the aerospace and aviation industry. It will be the continued commitment and creativity of Floridians who will make our state a global leader for innovation and economic prosperity in the 21st century. Florida's Bottom Line should help equip you with the resources to be a part of this mission.