My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As the summer season brings even warmer weather to the Sunshine State, it’s our duty to continue turning up the heat on those who prey upon our senior community. Thousands of seniors choose to call Florida home, and they are too often targeted by deceitful scammers. June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Month, and I’d like to remind Floridians to keep a watchful eye on their loved ones and to take a proactive approach in learning how to keep their family members safe. Free 'Be Scam Smart' Workshops for Seniors

The best way to stop the exploitation of the elderly is through education. That’s why our Department continues to travel across the state hosting free workshops that teach seniors and their families how to spot the signs of a scam. The Operation SAFE (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) workshops provide a first-hand, educational experience on the many ways that seniors can mitigate, identify and protect themselves from falling victim to fraud. This Friday, we’ll be at the Emmett Reed Community Center in Jacksonville from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. sharing all the ways seniors can be scam smart. If you can’t make it or live in another part of the state, request a workshop close to you!

If you want to read more online, we’ve got an entire website of information! Visit our On Guard for Seniors website to find tips and information on current and common scams, ways scams convince seniors to take a chance on something that sounds too good to be true, and to learn how to report possible fraud if you think it has taken place. Reading our guide to outsmarting scammers is a great place to start your search.

Some scammers use the telephone, some send emails, and sometimes they even knock on the door. They prey upon the trusting nature of this greatest generation, and we must all do our part to stop it from happening to our families. I hope you’ll visit the website to learn more and then have a conversation with your parents or grandparents. They’ve worked a lifetime saving a nest egg for their retirement years; let’s help them hold onto it.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida



Department of Financial Services Teams Honored for Innovative, Cost-Saving Ideas

Teams from the Department of Financial Services were recently recognized by Florida TaxWatch as winners of Prudential Productivity Awards for exceeding expectations in ways that improve state services while saving taxpayer dollars. The awards further highlight the Department’s dedication to increasing productivity while promoting innovation.
Florida TaxWatch
Many different areas of work performed by the Department were recognized, such as efforts to curb public assistance fraud, protect consumers from predatory insurance professionals, increase efficiencies in the workers’ compensation system through electronic processing, and improve the lives of Floridians with unique abilities through financial literacy.

In total, 38 individuals were recognized, many receiving plaques with some taking home cash awards for their success. Winners include:

  • Team One: Thomas Cory Beaver, Iris Collier, Molly Murphy, Christina Siriwardena, Denishia Sword
  • Team Two: Ester Ruiz de Velasco, Pamela White
  • Individual winner: Sarah Dugan
  • Team Three: Brian McGrane, April Burgess, Alfonso Zapata, Mary McDonald, Dwayne Jones, Lori Cross-Smith, Dorothy Smith
  • Team Four: Mike Tucker, Charles Frank, Patrick Giacobbe, Barbara Klingensmith, Susan Schell, Michael Swartz
  • Team Five: Dwayne Manning, Charlie Watson, Donald Glasper, Kimberly Moore
  • Team Six: Christopher McGuire, Todd Aldridge, Robert Fox
  • Team Seven: Gerhard Kurtz, Gene Smith, Rachel Surratt, Vicki Griffin, Maya Brown, Larry Johnson, Pauline Schreck, Mark Reichmuth
  • Individual Winner: David Swanson
  • Team Eight: Jack Heacock and the Division of Public Assistance Fraud

Since 1989, the Prudential Productivity Awards program has publicly recognized and rewarded state employees and work units whose work significantly and measurably increases productivity and promotes innovation to improve the delivery of state services and save money for Florida taxpayers and businesses. Over the 28-year program, more than 16,000 nominations have been received, and awards have been given to state employees for saving or maximizing state dollars to the tune of more than $9.2 billion.

Florida's Bottom Line: Teaching Consumers To Help ThemselvesTasha Carter, Division Director of Consumer Services

Consumer Services Division Director Tasha Carter guest-authored a column in our latest edition of Florida's Bottom Line that focuses on teaching consumers how to help themselves. Here is an excerpt:

The Division of Consumer Services provides proactive, innovative, and educational information and resources to Florida’s insurance and financial consumers. To assist Floridians in making informed financial and insurance-related decisions, the Division offers a toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline, financial education programs, consumer guides, educational videos, an insurance library, and insurance complaint data.

Below is a closer look at two of the Division’s primary functions and how each assists consumers.

INSURANCE CONSUMER HELPLINE

A key function of the Division of Consumer Services is its toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline, which assists Floridians with their specific needs about any of the 26 different lines of insurance. Trained Insurance Specialists are available to answer questions, provide guidance, take complaints, and resolve disputes with insurance companies on consumers’ behalf.

Since 2011, the Division has answered more than 1.8 million calls and assisted in recovering more than $171.3 million for Florida’s insurance consumers.

FINANCIAL LITERACY

Consumer Services' Financial Literacy programs



"Keeping your hard-earned money in your pocket, where it belongs." This vision of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater perfectly explains the significant impact a quality financial education can have on everyone. Financial literacy allows consumers to manage money successfully, thus protecting their finances for years to come.

In an effort to make this vision a reality for more Floridians, since 2011, the Division has developed 10 financial education programs for various audiences, including the military, survivors of domestic violence, persons with developmental disabilities, and the Hispanic community, among other subpopulations.

Read more from Tasha Carter in the Spring edition of Florida's Bottom Line. A one-stop shop for the latest news and valuable insight on Florida's economy and financial health, Florida's Bottom Line is CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine and website.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida’s Unemployment Rate Continues to Decrease
The unemployment rate in Florida dropped by 0.2 percent in May, bringing it down to 4.3 percent. This was due to the addition of 29,600 jobs to the state’s economy, the largest increase in the nation.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Small Business Confidence Remains High
The National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Confidence Index remained at a historically high level of 104.5 in May. This was driven primarily by businesses’ plans to increase employment and invest in capital, and their expectations that the economy and sales will improve.
Source: National Federation of Independent Business