We received an email from a NYC DCA attorney last week finding some errors in our audit. Specifically, one of our servers manual log book. Let me refresh, one of the many procedures that a process server agency does is do a monthly audit of all process servers attempts and completions. One of the ways is to audit their manual log books as per 6 RCNY § 2-234a(b)(2)(ii) of the NYC DCA rules. This part of the rules really bothers me in the fact that DCA wants all of us to “TATTLE” on each other. Yes TATTLE. Meaning, that if we know anyone and I mean anyone breaking the DCA rules, we have to let the DCA know. This is not limited to process servers it also applies to agencies and even law firms that act as process server agencies. Unless of course they do the services themselves.
That being said, this was our first audit and we thought all was fine. We were glad for the audit to make sure everything we were doing was up to the rules. Well, they caught two things on the audit.
The log book errors were:
After reading the decision Use of Abbreviations, Codes, and Pre-formatted Stamps in Log books we came to the conclusion that we could use abbreviations as long as there was a legend in front of the log book. If you have ever seen an example of the log books that servers have used over the years, it is difficult to put the entire venue in the small space. One of our servers abbreviations were not satisfactory to the DCA. When we responded we brought up this point and the answer from DCA was:
“Full Name of Court: There are many different types of acceptable log books. If a process server finds it difficult to enter information in their log book, they should be using a different one.”
So yes, we were technically guilty for not letting the DCA know of this error and correcting the problem.
This one took us by total surprise. When we purchase log books we purchase them in bulk. Why, we do this as a courtesy so the servers don’t have to go pick one up themselves. So, we have always had a good stock of log books. Yes, every other log book in the past had skin color in the log book. This one, from the same publisher, did not. We looked at the other servers log books and they were fine or they put the skin color in another section. Yes, both the server and the people doing the audit missed it. Furious, we called the publisher of the log book who stated that three years ago NYC DCA called him and stated they no longer needed the “Skin Color” so he took it off. He also stated that he is getting bombarded with calls from process servers regarding the skin color being omitted. He also stated there was no letter sent to him only a telephone call and he didn’t remember who called. We don’t know if this was the truth or an error on his part but said that the changes are being made.
Once again we were technically guilty. (Darn it! Trying to keep it clean)
We are not the only industry regulated by a government entity. There is a ton of them across the country. So, we knew that no matter what error there was we were going to get fined. Why, simple in my opinion, they have to pay for the audits somehow. Plus, if they didn’t forgive anyone in 2008 for not having a Compliance Plan they sure weren’t going to forgive this. So we anticipated it and we prefer to look at it as another tax.
If you read our last post you will see that we were looking forward to our first audit. No we are not crazy but we just wanted to know if we were doing everything correctly, Now we know and these errors were easily correctable. So we settled with the NYC DCA for a fine of $500.00. Well worth the money to see that so far everything we are doing is correct.
We explained to the DCA that there was not intent to lie of defraud anyone and they agreed. We went on to to explain that the errors were corrected moving forward and that the server and our internal auditor understand the errors.
On a personal note to other NYC process servers and agencies. You might want to think about giving the NYC DCA a break. I know it is hard to remember that they were NOT the ones who passed the rules and regulations we have to abide by but they are only the governing body.
Next, I want to apologize to all the NYC process servers and agencies for letting this happen on my watch. The more we comply with the rules and regulations the less the DCA will keep looking at our industry for what we do wrong and maybe, someday, will change their attitude toward us and servers.
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