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CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis: First Year in Office Report

7/19/2018

For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 19, 2018
Contact: Anna Alexopoulos Farrar, 850.413.2842, anna.farrar@myfloridacfo.com 

CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis: First Year in Office Report

TALLAHASSE, Fla.— Since July 1, 2017, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis’ mission has been to focus on policies and initiatives that help all Floridians. In the first year, CFO Patronis successfully fought to secure post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) benefits for first responders, helped put in place even more consumer protections, cracked down on insurance fraud, and returned more money than ever to Floridians through his unclaimed property program.
 
PTSD Benefits for First Responders
During the 2018 Legislative Session, CFO Patronis successfully fought to secure mental health benefits for first responders. Firefighters alone have a suicide attempt rate that is five times higher than the general U.S. population. First responders, as a whole, are attempting suicide at a rate more than ten times higher than the general population.
 
CFO Patronis stated, “I’m most proud of the work we did with Sen. Lauren Book and Rep. Matt Willhite this year to secure benefits for first responders suffering from PTSD. We fought hard for our first responders, a profession that has shocking rates of suicide, so that they could get the help they needed without the enormous cost. I look forward to continuing our work for first responders including pushing for cancer coverage for Florida firefighters."
 
CFO Patronis will always fight for our first responders so that they receive the benefits and honors they rightfully deserve. 
 
Consumer Protections for Floridians
During the 2018 Legislative Session, CFO Patronis successfully removed the fee imposed on Floridians by credit reporting agencies to freeze their credit, making it easier for Floridians to protect themselves from fraud.
 
CFO Patronis said, “Cybersecurity is a top concern of mine, and it’s important we make it easier for Floridians to protect themselves from identity fraud. In 2017, 16.7 million people in the United States were affected by identity fraud, criminals stole more than $16 billion from accounts, and new-account fraud increased by 70 percent. This is why we worked to get rid of the fee credit reporting agencies charged just to freeze your credit. Our work in cybersecurity doesn’t end there. Most recently, I directed my office to create a cryptocurrency chief whose sole responsibility will be to oversee how current laws apply to cryptocurrency regulation, and work with federal agencies and other states in investigatory efforts to curb cryptocurrency fraud schemes in Florida. We must both protect Floridians and keep Florida a top innovation state.” 
 
Fraud Crack Down
After Hurricane Irma, CFO Patronis created the Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) to help protect all Floridians, including seniors, from fraud before and after a disaster. There are currently 100 active investigations into hurricane-related insurance fraud, in addition to the hundreds of arrests made this year for all types of insurance fraud.
 
CFO Patronis said, “Insurance fraud isn’t a victimless crime. It drives up the cost of your insurance rates, and Florida residents and businesses shoulder the cost. We hit the ground running and made it a priority to protect Floridians from this kind of fraud and the criminals who take advantage of people after a storm hits our state. The work we’ve done has resulted in more than 800 insurance fraud arrests and nearly $70 million requested restitution for victims. The message is simple: If you commit fraud, we will find you and put you in jail.”
 
Topping Unclaimed Property Records
CFO Patronis’ Division of Unclaimed Property returned $321 million to Florida consumers and businesses, shattering the record for most returns in one year by more than $8 million.
 
CFO Patronis said, “My priority is to make sure we do everything possible to return unclaimed dollars and property back to Florida residents and businesses. Breaking the record means more money back in the hands of Floridians. Florida has remained a national leader with our proactive efforts to return unclaimed property, and we will continue working to raise the bar even higher.
 
“As a former business owner, I’m hard-wired to be a customer servant. Every action I’ve taken as CFO is driven by this. I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished to make Florida a place where people want to move and businesses want to plant roots. It’s been an honor to serve as Florida’s CFO and State Fire Marshal this past year, and I look forward to building on this success in the years to come.”  
 
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a native Floridian and a member of Florida’s Cabinet, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).