My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

April is Financial Literacy Month and before sharing all of the tools and resources our Department makes available to help you further your financial education, I’d like to take a step back and explain what it means to be financially literate in this day and age. Financial Literacy Month

Simply put, financial literacy means to have an applicable understanding of how money works and how to effectively manage it. The more you understand about your finances, the more likely you are to make good choices with money.

Whether you’re just starting your career and learning how to budget for the first time or you’re a budget veteran who has already navigated many of life’s financial challenges, I urge you to continue — or to start — a quest for financial education. No matter your life stage, there’s always more to learn.

How much can I afford to spend on a new car? Should I buy a house or continue renting? At what age can I afford to retire and have I saved enough money? These are not easy questions to answer, yet these are all decisions many of us will face during the course of our lives.

We’ve heard stories of college students racking up thousands in credit card debt, and read newspaper stories of wealthy athletes or celebrities losing millions in bad investment deals or because of frivolous spending. Financial decisions — namely poor decisions — can have long term and wide-reaching impacts on our lives. The earlier one begins learning about the value of a dollar, the better. Thankfully, the age of the Internet has made resources more readily available.

My office strives to meet the needs of all Floridians — regardless of socioeconomic status, age or ability. It is our goal to meet Floridians right where they are, and we’ve built programs and calculators and podcasts that can do just that — educate, inform and empower all Floridians.

If you’re facing any of the milestones I mentioned above or if you’re simply looking to cut back on your monthly bills and put more into savings each month, I encourage you to take advantage of the programs we offer. If you’re a parent looking to teach your children the importance of saving and the difference between a want and a need, we can help with that, too.

Throughout the month of April, we will share information about some of the specific programs we offer, but I strongly encourage you to use Financial Literacy Month as an opportunity to kick start your learning process. Take a minute and visit our website: www.myFloridaCFO.com/YMM — all of the programs and resources you’ll find are available anytime and free of charge to anyone who wishes to take part.

There’s no better time to start than now.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


Fraud Prevention Month is over but the Fight against Fraud Continues

March and National Fraud Prevention Month are now over, but Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater encourages Floridians to continue working toward a fraud-free Florida by sharing this simple message: if you see something, say something.

The Florida Divisions of Insurance Fraud and Public Assistance Fraud, which operate under the direction of CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services, are leaders in Florida’s fight against the fraud, waste, and abuse that cause insurance costs and taxes to rise. Insurance Fraud badge

To provide a snapshot into the volume and types of cases we work, here’s a "by the numbers" look at just one month’s worth of investigations:

During the month of March, more than 3,300 instances of suspected fraud were reported. When referrals are received, investigators review the information available to determine if alleged illegal activity has occurred. If sufficient evidence exists, a case is opened and the investigative work continues. In addition to new referrals, nearly 1800 open cases were worked on this month, and more than 200 fraud arrests were made — that’s 200 scam artists who are now off the streets.

We could not be as successful without the help of our fellow law enforcement partners who extend our fraud-fighting team and the watchful eyes of educated consumers who report suspected acts of fraud in our state.

Help us continue these efforts by giving us a call if you ever feel like you’ve been cheated or if you’re ever made an offer that sounds too good to be true. Our toll-free hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-378-0445.

Outlook on 2016Florida's Bottom Line on Florida's Economy

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.

The newest edition of Florida’s Bottom Line is focused on the opportunities that lie ahead in 2016 as well as highlights of the progress that we 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.

Florida Economic Briefs

National unemployment rate rises in March
In March, the unemployment rate was at 5.0 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from the previous month and down 0.5 percentage point from last year (5.5 percent). Florida’s unemployment rate for March will be released on April 15th.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Florida's consumer confidence up in March
Consumer confidence among Floridians rose in March. Perceptions of personal finances over the last year declined slightly awhile expectations of personal finances for the upcoming year increased greatly over the month.
Source: Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida