My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

Today marks the end of the 2017 hurricane season. We’ve weathered an active and devastating season, but Florida has emerged strong once again. As a state, we’ve planned and prepared for seasons like this one. Unfortunately, hurricanes bring out the best and worst of people.


Recent reports showed that Hurricane Sandy victims are still suffering from the effects of post-storm fraud. In order to protect our residents, and to make certain that doesn’t happen in Florida, we deployed anti-fraud teams in South, Southwest, and Central Florida.

These teams on the ground are working directly with dedicated prosecutors so that these criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of Florida law. Although hurricane season may be over, our work is not. We will continue to fight for you.

Sincerely,

Jimmy Patronis
Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


CFO Jimmy Patronis: Florida Must End Credit Report Freeze Fee

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced today that he wants Florida to end all fees imposed to freeze credit reports, and remove requirements for data breach victims to submit investigatory paperwork to prove they were victimized in order to waive this fee. The recent major data breaches underscore the importance of eliminating the credit report fee.

“Recent widespread data breaches at major companies have huge implications for our 20 million residents. Every Floridian should have the power to easily protect themselves and their families,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis. “No one should have to jump through hoops to prove their identity was compromised just to get a fee waived.”

This legislative session, CFO Patronis will work with Commissioner Adam Putnam to entirely remove the credit report freeze fee in Florida, under all circumstances.

“I applaud CFO Patronis for his leadership on this consumer protection initiative, which will eliminate the financial burden of placing a security freeze on credit reports. We must continue to do all we can to help protect consumers from fraud,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

CFO Patronis stated, “There shouldn't be a fee, in any case, for credit report freezes. These fees serve one purpose: to generate more money for reporting agencies."

Florida law currently allows credit report agencies to charge a fee of up to $10 to freeze credit reports, and data breach victims are required to submit paperwork to prove their identity is in jeopardy just to avoid paying the fee. Four states (Indiana, South Carolina, Maine, North Carolina) already do not charge fees to freeze credit.

Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team Cracks Down on Insurance Fraud After Hurricane Irma

CFO Jimmy Patronis and the Department of Financial Services’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) announced the recent arrest of Claude Milhomme after he was caught lying to his insurance company in an attempt to file a false insurance claim on his vehicle for damage allegedly caused by Hurricane Irma.

"Hurricanes bring out the absolute best in our volunteers, donation organizers and first responders, but they also bring out the absolute worst in others and that’s when we see the post-storm fraud,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis. “If you plan to engage in fraudulent activity, no matter how big or how little, we are going to take action."

Milhomme filed a claim September 12, 2017 to his insurance company stating water damage to his vehicle caused by Hurricane Irma in the amount of $225 for a diagnosis, after hours fee and storage fee. The Department’s Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team received a tip October 9, 2017, suspecting fraudulent activity regarding Milhomme’s claim.

As a result, state investigators took a closer look into Milhomme’s claim and it was discovered that Milhomme’s vehicle was inspected at an auto repair shop located in Georgia September 7, 2017. The inspection and diagnostic tests revealed that Milhomme's vehicle was mechanically inoperable due to overheating which resulted in a blown head gasket prior to Hurricane Irma’s landfall September 10, 2017.

Milhomme was arrested November 2, 2017 without incident at the Palm Beach County Jail on one count of fraudulent insurance claim by falsely stating a material misrepresentation of facts.

This case will be prosecuted by the Palm Beach County Office of the State Attorney, 15th Judicial Circuit.

The Department’s anti-fraud strike team consists of three teams that are working in areas heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma including South Florida, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties; Southwest Florida, including Lee and Collier counties; and Central Florida, including Polk and Orange counties. They are trained insurance fraud investigators with specialized knowledge of property & casualty fraud and workers’ compensation fraud and to ensure that law-breakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of Florida law, CFO Patronis is working directly with dedicated prosecutors housed within each of the respective State Attorney’s Offices.

Florida Economic Briefs

Consumer sentiment increases
After several months of decline, consumer sentiment in Florida rose by 1.9 points to 96.7 in November. The biggest factor in the increase was improved expectations about the US economy over the next year.
Source: UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research


Building permits rebound
After dropping sharply in September, new residential construction permits increased to 10,721 in October. This represents an almost 35 percent increase over the previous month.
Source: Census Bureau