SAINT PAUL, MN –To raise awareness, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is highlighting Insurance Fraud Awareness Week, February 11-15, 2013. Insurance fraud costs an average family about $950 a year, and insurance companies and consumers across the United States an estimated $80 million a year, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. “Everyone pays for insurance fraud one way or another,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman. “To help combat insurance fraud, on behalf of the State of Minnesota, the Commerce Department Insurance Fraud Division investigates insurance fraud crimes to help stop criminal fraudsters and bring them to justice.” To combat insurance fraud in Minnesota, the Department of Commerce Insurance Fraud Division (IFD) was created by the State Legislature in 2004 to review reports of insurance fraud, respond to complaints of suspected insurance fraud generated by law enforcement agencies, refer alleged insurance fraud to appropriate law enforcement agencies including county attorneys, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and others for criminal prosecution, and assemble evidence and prepare charges. The IFD team is comprised of detectives, analysts who assist with the casework, and a computer forensics specialist. Perpetrators of insurance fraud come from all walks of life and usually act out of either perceived financial pressures at home or work, or perceived opportunities to “beat the system.” They rationalize that they “deserve” it or are “owed” the money and sometimes convince themselves they will pay it back or that no one will be adversely affected by the fraud. Insurance fraud comes in many forms and sizes, including heinous crimes and organized criminals. It also arises in various insurance lines, from life insurance to homeowners. Sometimes it involves issuing fake policies, pocketing the premiums, and making false statements with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Fraud scams are perpetrated by individuals, policy holders, unethical medical providers and career criminals. Sometimes fraud includes incidents of arson, false theft reports, bogus injury claims from accidents, and phony work-related injury reports. The Minnesota Department of Commerce receives tips from companies and individuals to report suspected fraud. Minnesotans can report fraud anonymously by calling the Insurance Fraud Division at 1-888-FRAUDMN (1-888-372-8366). More information about insurance fraud in Minnesota can be found on the Minnesota Department of Commerce website. Consumers with complaints or questions may call the Minnesota Department of Commerce at (651) 296-2488 or toll free, 800-657-3602.