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Amendments to the Administrative Code of the City of New York and the Rules of the City of New York Requiring Process Servers to Carry a Global Positioning System to Record Location and Time of Service of Process May Remedy “Sewer Service” Problem

May 21, 2012
Christopher Palmer and Danielle Nunziato
Garden City

In June, 2011, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (the “Department”), pursuant to authority granted by Section 20-104(b) of Chapter 1, Title 20 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York (the “Code”), promulgated and adopted rules and amendments to existing rules to carry out the purpose of Chapter 2, Title 20 of the Code regarding records maintained by licensed process servers in the City of New York.  The adopted rules and amendments to existing rules took effect in July, 2011.  According to the Department’s website, effective as of November 12, 2011, licensed process servers are required to carry and operate an electronic device that records the Global Positioning System (“GPS”) location while serving process.

Purpose of New Section 20-410 of the Code 

At hearings in June, 2011, evidence presented to a committee of the New York City Council focused on the growing concern over “sewer service”, an illegal practice in which process servers falsely claim to serve summonses and other process on parties to legal proceedings.  This false service is particularly prevalent in consumer debt collection cases and as such, consumers are not afforded the opportunity to defend themselves against creditors’ claims that may be incorrect.  Ultimately, those consumers “falsely served” with process may be subjected to legal proceedings to collect debts that are not legally justifiable.

With this new rule requiring that process servers carry a GPS device to record the location and time of service of process or attempted service, the Department provides a modern tool to detect and deter “sewer service” while strengthening the accountability of process servers and creates a way for process servers accused of “sewer service” to provide independent corroboration of his or her location at the time of the disputed service. 

The Commissioner’s Authority

Section 20-104(a) of the Code confers on the Commissioner the jurisdiction and control over all licenses issued under Chapter 2, Title 20 and under all other laws conferring such powers upon him.  Chapter 2, Title 20 of the Code grants the Commissioner the power to: (1) set forth any rules necessary to carry out his powers and duties; and (2) require those licensed pursuant to the requirements of the Code to keep such records that are determined by the Commissioner to be necessary and useful to carrying out the purpose of Chapter Two.

The New Rules and Amendments

Prior to the June, 2011 amendments, Section 2-233b of Subchapter W, Chapter 2, Title 6 of the Rules of the City of New York (the “Rules”) mandated that all licensed process servers comply with all rules regarding the tracking of service of process with a GPS device as shall be promulgated by the Commissioner. 

As amended, Section 2-233b of the Rules implements new Section 20-410 of the Code.  Section 20-410 requires licensed process servers, at all times during the commission of his or her licensed activities, to carry and operate “at the time process is served or attempted an electronic device that uses a [GPS], wi-fi device or other such technology as the Commissioner by rule shall prescribe to electronically establish and record the time, date, and location of service or attempted service.”  The process server or the agency she works for must maintain all records created by such electronic device in an electronic database for seven (7) years from the date such record is created.

Additionally, Section 2-233b of the Rules was amended to prescribe the type of device that the process server must carry (2-233b(a)(1)); the information that must be found in every electronic record (2-233b(a)(2)); the way in which data must be stored and retrieved (2-233b(a)(4)); all information that must be included on a spreadsheet at the Department’s request (2-233b(a)(4)(vii)); and the reporting requirements under the new rules (2-233b(c)).  The text of the amendment is found in the link below.

If you have any questions regarding the rules and amendments affecting process servers in the City of New York, please contact Danielle Nunziato at (516) 296-9198 or via e-mail at dnunziato@cullenanddykman.com

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