My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

More than five years into my term as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, I still find myself explaining to Floridians how property can become unclaimed. For many, it’s hard to imagine that a bank account or safety deposit box could get lost, but it happens and it happens more often than you think! Life gets busy — we move, we change jobs, etc. — and it’s easy to forget to file a forwarding address or to forget to call the utility company about getting the deposit back. Unclaimed property comes in many forms, from insurance and stock accounts to savings bonds and savings accounts.

That’s where we come in. Our Department runs Florida’s unclaimed property program, which serves to collect and hold onto these unclaimed accounts until Florida Unclaimed Property Auctionwe’re able to locate the rightful owner of the account and return the money. We’ve been incredibly successful in returning record-breaking amounts of money back to Floridians. In fact, we’ve returned well over a billion dollars during my tenure, and I couldn’t be prouder of the team that dedicates their time and energy to this mission.

As I shared earlier, unclaimed property includes tangible and intangible items, including items from safety deposit boxes. While safety deposit boxes are a small portion of the unclaimed accounts we take in, we have thousands of items in our vault, from rare rookie baseball cards to vintage pieces of jewelry to historic newspapers.

When items from safety deposit boxes go a minimum of five years without an owner being identified and after every opportunity to locate the owner has been exhausted, the items are made available at an annual auction hosted by our Division of Unclaimed Property. Our vault is only so large and we must make room for the thousands of new items that come in each year. However, all unclaimed property is available to claim for free at any time, even if we sell the item at our auction. That means if you or a family member comes forward five, 10, or even 20 years from now, we will give you every penny that we collected for your items at auction. All unclaimed property works that way.

So, if you remember that you should’ve gotten a utility company deposit back years ago, I encourage you to check out our website because it’s likely waiting for you to claim!

This year’s Unclaimed Property Auction is happening this weekend at Tampa’s Marriott Westshore Hotel, 1001 N. Westshore Boulevard, Tampa. The event is open to the public and all are encouraged to participate. This Friday, August 12, we’ll host an all-day preview event at the hotel, where you can come and browse the items to determine what you’d like to bid on. Registration opens at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, August 13. Anyone can bid after providing a valid driver’s license and a refundable $100 cash deposit during registration. Bidding begins on Saturday morning, August 13, at 10:00 a.m. EST.

With more than 70,000 items valued in excess of $750,000, there’s something for collectors of all kinds. To browse through an auction catalog or to learn more, visit our website: www.FLTreasureHunt.org. While you’re there, search your name to see if we’re holding an account in your name!

If you’ve never been to an auction, I highly encourage you to check it out. It's a fun and exciting way to spend a day, and you never know what sort of treasures you may find.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart Workshops

Operation S.A.F.E.Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • The Psychology of a Scam
  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors
  • How to Fight Identity Theft
  • Resources to Keep You Safe

Find out more about us in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event, including the following workshops:

  • Tuesday, August 23 - Belle Glade
    10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
    West Senior Center
    2916 State Road #15, Belle Glade, FL 33430
    Register | Directions
  • Wednesday, August 24 - Lake Worth
    10:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
    Mid-County Senior Center
    3680 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, FL 33461
    Register | Directions
  • Thursday, August 25 - Palm Beach Gardens
    9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
    North County Senior Center
    5217 Northlake Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
    Register | Directions

Florida's Bottom Line: Florida's Space Frontier

Frank DiBello guest authored a column in our latest edition that focuses on the future of space. Here is an excerpt:

In 1989, the State of Florida created the Florida Space Authority, then the nation’s first state space authority. With that act, Florida staked a claim to leadership in this nation’s future in space. And even though other states have tried to emulate what Florida did, under the latest evolution of that authority, Space Florida, the state’s national leadership in space has been solidified in the global marketplace.

Today, Florida can boast of being the home of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the busiest and most successful spaceport on the planet! And, every active launch pad at the Cape either has significant state investment arranged by the authority or is owned outright by Space Florida, enabled primarily by harnessing the power of private sector financing. Florida has embraced the future of space, which is increasingly and inevitably commercial.

Read more from Frank DiBello in Florida's Bottom Line, CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine, focused on providing you with the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's economic and financial health.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida expected to outpace the nation in economic growth
Florida’s leading index is expected to increase by 1.9 percent over the next 6 months, 0.7 percentage points higher than the national prediction of 1.2 percent. The Leading Index predicts the six-month growth rate of the state’s coincident index, which is a summary of current economic conditions.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

National unemployment rate up in July
In July, the national unemployment rate was at 4.9 percent, unchanged from the previous month and down 0.4 percentage points from last year (5.3 percent). Florida’s unemployment rate for July will be released on August 19.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics