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Is NYC DCA License Renewal and Audit Sucking the Life Out of Process Serving Industry?

Process Serving Industry

Or Just the Mirror to the Process Serving Industry?

Well, the NYC process serving industry just went through our second two year renewal with agency and individual licensing from the NYC DCA. As you are aware we are required to renew the license every two years due on February 28 of even years. Process serving agencies have to submit the bond renewal, pay $340.00 and submit other forms for the renewal. While individual process servers who are independent have to renew their bond or give the NYC DCA $1000.00 to put in the DCA servers fund. Pay the $340.00 renewal fee then pass a test to get their license renewed. The test is an additional $75.00.

The renewal is not getting any easier. Two years ago we submitted our renewal about the first of January and NYC DCA didn’t renew us until almost the last day, February 28.. We kept calling and calling trying to figure out if we didn’t submit all the forms or if one or more of the forms were wrong. Neither was the case but we didn’t get our license until almost the last day.

Why is this important? Server Agencies cannot serve in NYC without that license hanging on our wall in a conspicuous place for all to see. Without that on our wall we are not to answer the phones or embark in any type of service of process in the five boroughs. We finally had to send someone to the NYC DCA offices to pick up our license so we would be in compliance. Individual servers are not to serve papers without their license in hand. No license, no serving papers.

We tried to be patient because this was the first time the NYC DCA themselves were going through the renewal process. So we thought of it as a learning curve for all three sides. i.e. process serving agencies, process servers and the DCA. But looking at the list of licensed agencies and servers approved by the DCA was scary. At first only a handful of agencies were renewed and about a third (or less) of the servers individually were renewed. But slowly the numbers came up after a month or four.

This year was quite a bit different. We received the renewal packet from the DCA with “All the forms needed for your renewal”. Well that wasn’t quite accurate. But we downloaded the remaining forms needed and sent our renewal on or about January 2nd or 3rd. No problem!

Then on or about January 8, 2016 we received a letter dated January 6, 2016 with an audit notice from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. The audit is part of the new regulations basically stating they can request an audit as detailed, or non-detailed whenever they want. We had until January 28, 2016 to comply. The way we understand it, all licensed process server agencies received an audit notice on or about the same time.

dca Is NYC DCA License Renewal and Audit Sucking the Life Out of Process Serving Industry?

DCA requested three things.

1. For the period of May 1, 2015 through August 31, 2015, all reports concerning your review of the records of individual process server to whom you assigned, distributed or delivered process to be served in New York City, including all reports that you are required to maintain pursuant to 6 RCNY § 2-234a(b)(2)(ii).

This basically states that at least once a month agencies must review all process server records for completeness and accuracy. Then we must prepare a written report of the review of the records and maintain the report for at least seven years. Maintain records of disciplinary actions and report to the DCA, in writing, the name and license number of each process server who does not comply within ten days of learning of such non-compliance. And, of course, upon request give the DCA a copy of our records at anytime.

2. For the period of May 1, 2015 through August 31, 2015, scanned image files of the log book(s) of each individual process server to who you assigned, distributed or delivered process to be served in New York City, including all records that you are required to maintain pursuant to 6 RCNY § 2-233(c)(1)(iii).

This report consists of every attempt, service etc. of the day before. Then at the end of the week we have to do a weekly report of the same information. Both reports have to be saved in pdf and excel compatible format and transferred onto a one write disc, USB or external drive. They are very specific on the information recorded. They are to be saved with our license number, the server licensed name and number, and basically the same information that you see on an affidavit of service. When was it served/attempted, date, time, description etc.

3. For the period of May 1, 2015 through August 31, 2015, the electronic records of daily activity of each individual process server to whom you assigned, distributed or delivered process to be served in New York City, including all records that you are required to maintain pursuant to 6 RCNY § 2-233a(b)(3).

Each process server shall keep records in compliance with the provisions of 89-cc of the General Business Law. The process servers themselves have to fill out their logbooks every day, scan the daily log onto a once write device and submit a copy to the agency for whom they did the work. When the agency receives the file, we also have to store it on a once write device in a specific way and keep them for seven years. By the way, this is a NY state requirement but the new rules state the above even though the servers all have to use a third party vendor to electronically store the same information along with the GPS information. To me this seems a little redundant but it is the law so we comply.

So off it went via overnight on January 20,2016. This is the first time this information was requested so we kept looking and looking at the request, our reports… back to the request… and back again to our reports hoping everything was in order.

When these regulations first came out, everyone kept asking the DCA questions about the reports and most of the time they just answered, “It is up to you!” Yes, some rulings came down but not the nuts and bolts. Up until now, it was just our interpretation of the rules.

Then we waited! To us, it was obvious that they were probably going to go over the audit before renewing. After all, it is easier to expel an agency for not complying with the audit and not renewing their license then to get into Article 78 and etc. At least this was what we were thinking and at the same time, hoping, that all our paperwork was in order. We waited two weeks before we started calling to get status of our license renewal. All we kept getting was it is in review. In review? So naturally we kept going over the DCA request and our paperwork; looking for any possible detail we may have missed.

This continued until mid-February when the DCA said to stop calling and only email us. They gave a specific email address for us to inquire. We emailed at least twice a week and no response. Holy cow, we messed up somewhere. We’re done, that’s it…out of business. Going back to selling stuff. OH MY GOD!! We called and emailed again.

Finally, on February 24, 2016 we called and DCA said we were renewed and that our license was going out today. Then later that day we received an email stating the same. Time for a beer!

We started to wonder if they were in fact squeezing out process servers and agencies. We kept looking at the online numbers of total agencies and process servers.

numbers Is NYC DCA License Renewal and Audit Sucking the Life Out of Process Serving Industry?

The Numbers

February 26, 2016

Before the end of the renewal date on about February 26, 2016:

134 Process Service Agencies Licensed
927 Process Servers Licensed

March 1, 2016

47 Process Server Agencies licensed renewal full term 02/28/2018
32 Agencies have expiration dates of 05/31/2016
5 Agencies Expiring 03/23/2016
Total 84

Individual servers 236 servers are renewed full term 02/28/2018
3 expire 03/31/2016
Total 239

March 11, 2016

57 Agencies Renewed full term 02/28/2018
33 Agencies have expiration dates of 05/31/2016
3 Agencies Expiring 03/23/2016
Total 93

Individual Servers 417 Individuals renewed full term 02/28/2018
1 Expiring 05/03/2016
3 Expiring 03/31/2016
2 Listed as expired 02/28/2016
Total 423

March 16, 2016

60 Agencies Renewed full term 02/28/2018
34 Agencies have expiration dates of 05/31/2016
3 Agencies Expiring 03/23/2016
Total 97

Individual Servers 515 Individuals renewed full term 02/28/2018
1 Expiring 05/03/2016
3 Expiring 03/31/2016
2 Listed as expired 02/28/2016
Total 521

 

The above numbers don’t reflect a small glitch in the renewal process for individuals. There were instances of process servers doing everything including passing the test only to be in limbo as far as their renewal. An attorney at the DCA stated that the facility doing the testing didn’t “push the submit button” batching all the test results to the NYC DCA for them to move forward. Naturally, the testing facility said that the DCA was behind in issuing the individual licenses.

What is going on with the process serving agencies? Is it the DCA not posting on their own internet site? Could be. Or could it be the audit and/or renewal paperwork. Probably more the audit. We wondered if there were some agencies that interpreted the rules the wrong way in the eyes of the DCA. Maybe they didn’t submit all the renewal forms and/or audit reports. Maybe the NYC DCA for some of the agencies have them doing some special reporting or extended the audit giving the agency a second chance or time to complete the audit.

Doing business in New York State and NYC should be just a little easier.  Please, just make the renewal process a little easier and less stressful. None of us want to go back to selling stuff door-to-door!!