My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

One of my top priorities as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer is to fight the fraud, waste and abuse that cause insurance costs to rise. Our Division of Insurance Fraud does so every day by investigating criminal acts of insurance fraud committed in Florida. The cases we work are as diverse as our state. We could not be as successful without the help of our fellow law enforcement partners and consumers who arm themselves with information and report suspected illegal activities.Fraud Prevention - Tips to protect yourself

From staged car accidents to employers who fail to provide workers' compensation coverage for their employees to a faked water leak for an insurance payout, we've learned that fraudsters and scam artists will stop at nothing to line their pockets with others' hard-earned money.

Fraud happens to all ages and income levels—it knows no boundaries. It can happen to you, and it’s already impacting your insurance premiums. When insurance companies are forced to pay out billions in losses caused by fraud each year, that money is recovered in the form of higher rates for everyone. In fact, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates that fraud costs each family about $950 annually.

Although we’re making great strides in our fight for a fraud-free Florida with nearly 6,000 arrests since 2011, I am not slowing down.

Our efforts are strengthened by the law enforcement partnerships we’ve forged and the dedicated prosecutors who work within State Attorney’s Offices across Florida. These partnerships extend our fraud-fighting team. With thousands more on the lookout, we’ll continue tearing down the fraud rings that wish to cheat and steal from hard-working taxpayers.

March is Fraud Prevention Month, and it’s a great opportunity to share a simple message: if you see something, say something. The Division has a toll-free Fraud Tip Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. Callers can choose to remain anonymous, and if they provide information that leads to a conviction, they may be eligible for a cash reward through our Anti-Fraud Reward Program.

If you ever feel like you’ve been cheated or that you’ve been made an offer that sounds too good to be true, we hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


CFO Atwater Announces Record-Breaking Unclaimed Unclaimed Property $32 Million in February 2016Property Returns

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced Tuesday that the Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property, which operates under the direction of the CFO and the Department of Financial Services, completed a record-breaking month of returns in February. During the shortest month of the year, the Bureau processed and paid more than $32 million in claims. Nearly 58,000 claims were processed and the resulting funds were returned back to the rightful owners. The next highest month on record was $27.5 million in claims that were returned during the month of August in 2014.

"The Bureau of Unclaimed Property has raised the bar in its mission to reconnect Floridians with their unclaimed property," CFO Atwater said. "It is our goal to return every dime of unclaimed property back to its intended owner, and I’m proud to see that our proactive efforts to do so are paying off."

More than $1.2 billion in unclaimed property has been returned to rightful owners since CFO Atwater took office in 2011. That amounts to more than 40 percent of all returns since the program was created in 1961. Accounts valued at more than $1.5 billion remain to be claimed. Accounts are available to claim at any time and at no cost.

Currently, the Department holds unclaimed property from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities and trust holdings. In addition to money and securities, unclaimed property includes tangible property such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps, historical items and other miscellaneous articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes. Until claimed, unclaimed money is deposited into the state school fund, where it is used for public education.

Visit https://www.fltreasurehunt.org to check for accounts that the unclaimed property program may be holding onto for you or your business.

Women's History MonthMarch is Women's History Month

Ruth Baird Bryan OwenEach week this month, we are featuring prominent American women leaders and highlighting their contributions to our state and country.


Ruth Baird Bryan Owen

Ruth Baird Bryan Owen, the daughter of U.S. Congressman William Jennings Bryan, learned about the importance of the political process starting at a young age. At 23 years old, she worked on her father’s presidential campaign, gaining insight to the political culture of the early 1900s. As a lecturer on the Lyceum and Chautauqua lecture circuit, Owen came to Miami, Florida, (1918-28) and served on the board of regents of the University of Miami, (1925-28).

Owen was the first woman representative from Florida in the United States Congress. She first ran for office in 1926 for the Democratic nomination for Florida's Fourth Congressional District, which at the time included nearly the entire east coast of the state from Jacksonville to the Florida Keys and included Miami, Orlando and St. Augustine, losing by fewer than 800 votes. Two years later, she ran again and was elected, serving from 1928 till 1932.

From 1933 to 1936, Owen was United States Ambassador to Denmark, appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She served in that capacity through 1936 when she became a dual citizen by marriage to a Dane.

She was a delegate to the San Francisco Conference which established the United Nations after World War II. In 1948, President Truman named her an alternate delegate to the U.N. General Assembly. She lived until 1954 and was buried in Denmark.

Florida's Bottom Line on Florida’s Economic Health

As a one-stop shop for the latest news and valuable insight on Florida's economic and financial health, Florida's Bottom Line is CFO Atwater's in-depth quarterly economic newsletter.

Florida's Bottom LineThe newest edition of Florida’s Bottom Line is focused on the opportunities that lie ahead in this year as well as highlights of the progress that we have made in the past year. Inside, you will find exclusive analyses and commentary from leading experts in Florida as well as a look back on Florida’s economic achievements in 2015.

The accompanying Florida's Bottom Line website will keep you updated with the latest statistics on Florida's economy. Special reports, infographics and past editions are archived on the website for easy access.

The Florida Rundown on Fire and Arson Investigation Investigating Fires and Arson

The State Fire Marshal of Florida is one of only three state fire marshals in the United States to have its own laboratory dedicated to the forensic analysis of evidence from fires or explosions.

Accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board - International, the goal of the Bureau of Forensic Fire and Explosive Analysis lab is to provide timely and credible forensic analysis of evidence. The lab incorporates national standards in its analytical protocols, continually trains its personnel, improves its instrumentation and offers training in various aspects of forensic science, digital imaging, and evidence preservation.

The Florida Rundown highlights accomplishments of the 14 divisions of the CFO's Department of Financial Services for 2015.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida’s new housing permits up 2 percent over the year
In January, Florida’s new housing permits rose 2 percent over the prior year. Higher home building permits indicate a growing supply of homes for sale in the future.
Source: U.S. Census

Florida’s consumer confidence down in February
Consumer confidence among Floridians fell slightly in February. Perceptions of personal finances over the last year and expectations of personal finances for the upcoming year increased over the month.
Source: Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida