In The Know
Prepare Your Agency and Customers For Hurricane Season
Florida's hurricane season started June 1st. Most people are careful to make important plans to protect their personal safety, homes and belongings by developing a "Hurricane Plan". Take time to consider the plans you've made to protect your business and consumer records in the event a storm approaches Florida.
Agencies and agents may want to consider the following methods of preparation:
After you have taken steps to protect your business and customer records, you may want to contact your customers before a storm approaches. Visit "Protect Your Homebase", for information on topics related to disaster preparedness.
FinCEN Reminds Financial Institutions ~
Rule Chapter 69B-186.010, F.A.C. ~
Guidance on Title Escrow Accounts
In recent weeks, several title agents and attorneys have contacted the Department seeking guidance with title escrow accounts. An overview of the agent's duties with respect to tile escrow accounts is addressed in s.626.8473, F.S. All funds received by a title insurance agent or agency received from others as escrow funds shall be held in a fiduciary capacity and shall remain the property of the consumer. A title insurance agent or agency must return any amounts due to the consumer.
The most common issue brought to the Department's attention involves the disbursement of overages due to the consumer. In some instances, the consumer receiving the disbursement owed from the escrow account fails to cash or deposit the check.
This is especially common when the disbursement check is for a minimal amount. In these instances, the title agent or agency must continue attempting to disburse the overage to the consumer.
If the consumer fails to cash or deposit the overage check after seven years, the title agent or agency may send the amount to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Unclaimed Property.
Section 626.8473, F.S., prohibits title agents or agencies from charging the consumer any type of fee or expense from the amount owed in the escrow account. The disbursement is required to be sent as a check as the referenced statute also prohibits title agents or agencies from converting the funds held in the escrow account. Any person who converts or misappropriates the funds held in the escrow account has committed a criminal offense with the degree of penalty varying depending on the amount converted or misappropriated.
Additional information is available by type of license at our Frequently Asked Questions web page.
Cryptocurrency continues to gain momentum in Florida:
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, "With new technology comes new ways for consumers to be defrauded. As cryptocurrency becomes more popular in our state, it's important for Floridians to fully understand what they are getting into before they invest. Texas has already opened 32 investigations into cryptocurrency investment schemes, and with a local government in our state now accepting bitcoin as a form of payment cryptocurrency isn't going away. It's my goal to ensure consumers are protected.
"It's critical that consumers are aware that cryptocurrency remains an unregulated currency and should be aware of the following if they choose to purchase or invest in cryptocurrency."
1. Do your homework. Never invest based solely on what you read online, on social media, or in a bulletin or mailer. It's easy for a company, its promoters-including celebrities-to make grandiose claims about new product developments, lucrative contracts, or the company's financial health. Before you invest, you must independently verify those claims. Use unbiased sources, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and securities industry self-regulatory organizations.
2. Cryptocurrency values can be unstable. Cryptocurrency can be highly volatile with the potential for complete loss of value. This may affect investors as well as consumers using cryptocurrency as a means of payment. Cryptocurrency's volatility also may make securities offerings tied to these currencies unsuitable for most investors depending on an individual's financial goals.
3. Cryptocurrencies can be stolen. There is the potential for consumers to incur financial losses if an account is not maintained in a secure manner. Currently, most cryptocurrency accounts or "wallets", unlike funds held in U.S. banks or credit unions, are not insured against loss.
4. Cryptocurrency transactions may be taxable. For federal tax purposes, the IRS has announced that cryptocurrency is treated as property. General tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using cryptocurrency. For more information, go to https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-reminds-taxpayers-to-report-virtual-currency-transactions
State and federal regulators are evaluating and developing approaches to regulating cryptocurrency and companies that deal in cryptocurrencies. Any company that offers to exchange, administer, or maintain cryptocurrencies may be subject to state regulation and licensing as well as federal regulation.
1. A contractor waiving a deductible or giving a
discounted rate directly to a customer is a form of _______.
5. Callers who report suspected fraud to the Department may be eligible for a _______ reward.
6. _______ issued the CDD Rule which became effective May 11th.
7. Insurance companies must acknowledge a claim within _______ days.
8.If a customer fails to cash an escrow overage check after seven years, the agency may send it to the Division of _______ Property.
9. A 1.8% decrease in workers' comp insurance rates could result in a savings of 79.5 _______ for Florida businesses.
2. The CFO and _______ announced the arrest of a man who admitted to stealing $61,954 in insurance premiums.
3. CFO Patronis announced the donation of 1,000 copies of _______ Learns to Earn to the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend.
4. The questions Alexa can't answer about your license can best be answered via your _______ account.
5. Before hurricane season begins, agencies should verify that they have ________ coverage.
Go to Education Central for puzzle answer key.