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Florida CFO Jeff Atwater Reaffirms Commitment to Consumer Protection

3/8/2016

Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413 – 2842
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As part of National Consumer Protection Week, observed each year during the second week of March, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater as head of Florida’s Department of Financial Services, has once again reaffirmed his commitment to safeguarding the hard-earned money of Florida’s consumers. During the five years CFO Atwater has led the Department, its Division of Consumer Services has returned more than $138.5 million to Florida’s consumers who requested assistance on insurance-related matters.

“Florida’s tourism attractions, pleasant climate, favorable tax structure and booming economy have created an influx of consumers who choose to call Florida home,” said CFO Atwater. “Unfortunately, this influx of residents has also led to an increase of dishonest scammers who look to defraud the financial assets of hard-working Floridians, but Consumer Protection Week offers an opportunity to remind all consumers to remain on guard.”

To help reduce the occurrence of fraud in Florida, the Department’s Division of Consumer Services offers information and resources about numerous insurance and financial topics to consumers in all stages of life. The Division provides a statewide toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline to assist consumers with insurance-related matters. Since 2011, helpline experts have helped 88,000 consumers by contacting their insurance company and advocating on their behalf in an effort to resolve their insurance concerns.

The Division’s website and the Department’s Your Money Matter$ financial education website provide helpful tips to assist consumers with making informed financial and insurance-related decisions. Follow these simple, yet effective consumer tips to help protect your hard-earned money:

• Do your homework: Fully research any financial or insurance product before purchase;

• Seek a second or third opinion: Inquire with several professionals to find one who listens and understands your individual goals;

• Verify before you buy: Verify the license and insurance of the company or individual you plan to conduct business with;
• Get everything in writing: Request written information that outlines all contractual agreements;

• Read before you sign: Read and ask questions to make sure you fully understand the documents you are signing; and
• File a complaint: If you suspect questionable business practices or potential fraud, say something by filing a complaint immediately by calling 1-877-693-5236.

If you or anyone you know feels that they are victims of fraudulent insurance related behavior please contact the Division of Insurance Fraud. The Division has a toll-free Fraud Tip Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. You can choose to remain anonymous, and if you provide information that leads to a conviction, you may be eligible for a cash reward through the Anti-Fraud Reward Program.
 
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).