HOW, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHO?: Process Serving and Collections

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Joel Rosenthal, JJL Process Corp.

Joel Rosenthal,
JJL Process Corp.

Put yourself in the shoes for a moment of a large national creditor.  You spend millions of dollars a year reimbursing your legal network firms for process serving expenses but you are completely blind as to HOW, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and best of all WHO are the process servers.  You know that the FTC looked at process serving in 2009 and this February the head of the CFPB’s Enforcement Department uttered the words “process serving” as an area of interest in his speech at the DBA conference.  You realize that you have to establish compliance standards for process serving but you really do not know much about process serving as you do not have any direct relationships with collection industry process servers.

Back in 2011, we started to hear this exact story from a number of major national creditors – look at the credit cards in your wallet if you want to know which ones.  They wanted to know more about process serving for the purpose of establishing some sort of guidelines for their legal networks to follow.   The gist of the conversation was — “We don’t know where to start, please help!!”.   After a number of these conversations, we realized that there was a need for developing process serving compliance standards for the collection industry.

In 2012, a group of nine people began working together toward this end.  Their backgrounds were as collection attorneys, legal network executives, process server owners and compliance attorneys.  The goal of this diverse group was to develop a preliminary set of process serving standards for the collection industry.  After four or five drafts this was accomplished.  The group of nine was the advisory board for the Process Serving Standards Summit.

The goal of the Summit was to have a fully transparent and inclusive process of reviewing, revising and finalizing the advisory board’s draft document.   Creditors, debt buyers, legal networks, collection law firms, compliance attorneys, process servers, trade associations and even a county judge participated in the Process Serving Standards Summit held in mid-2012 in Denver.   The two-day Summit made numerous and significant revisions to the draft standards and each individual standard was democratically voted on by the participating organizations.  In the spirit of inclusion, the Summit participants overwhelmingly directed that the standards be publicized in a comment period allowing for further revisions.  Comments were received and several more revisions made to the standards by the advisory board.

If you recall in my first blog posting last month I mentioned that there are process serving companies that embrace technology and those that fight it.  Likewise, there are organizations that embrace process serving compliance for the collection industry and those who fight it.  The foremost opponents appear to be most of the process serving companies themselves.  They are championed by the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS) and its various state affiliates.  NAPPS members are predominantly “mom and pop” firms who prefer working on a “trust” basis.  As much as I recall, appreciate, and would prefer the bygone days of old-fashioned trust, that approach does not work anymore in the litigious compliance-oriented world we now live in.  When the president of JJL Process, Scott Levine, personally invited the NAPPS president to participate in the Summit and standards process last year, the response was non-participation and the answer “the collection industry has its own problems let them drive their own bus.”

Regardless, the collection industry now has a set of process serving standards as a roadmap to answering HOW, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHO.  It is my strong hope that these standards become implemented throughout the industry.  To view the standards:  http://processservingstandards.com/Process_Serving_Standard.html

Continuing the Discussion

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  • avatar larry-yellon says:

    I do not appreciate quotes attributed to me that are not accurate.I never said that which you quoted to me nor do I imagine any conversation in which that context would be present. Please refrain from attributing fallacious quotes to me. Should you need to foster your cause, please do so without involving me in similar references.

  • avatar Joel Rosenthal says:

    In response to Larry Yellon, the president of NAPPS, I want to make a small correction. Larry Yellon and NAPPS were invited to participate in the Summit process and also comment on the standards and they decided not to participate or comment. However I misunderstood that the quote I used was from the same time, but actually the quote is from the 2010 Florida Association of Professional Process Servers (FAPPS) conference. We have a recording issued by FAPPS that has Mr. Yellon’s quote.

  • avatar larry-yellon says:

    Joel, I was elected President of NAPPS in April 2011. I was not President of NAPPS at the FAPPS 2010 convention, nor do I recall ever sayng that quote that you have attributed to me. You don’t need to disparage me or NAPPS to to achieve your goal. Do it on your own merits

  • avatar Casey Cox says:

    Joel, like yourself I spent a handful of years in credit & collections before joining a process serving company and I share many of your goals and my organization has been working towards many of those same goals since early 2011. However, using such a broad brush to say that NAPPS members are averse to change and technologically challenged is much like making the statement that members of ACA International deploy illegal collection practices or that DBA members participate in reselling the same debt again and again with no regard for chain of title. For an unquantifiable segment of the aforementioned organizations these statements are true but I think we can all agree that the vast majority of members in the ARM space don’t fit this mold. In fact, the majority of members, whether they be ACA, DBA, NAPPS, or any other reputable trade organization, stand together in improving the industry as a whole and embrace such changes and discussion.

    I can’t comment on what a single individual may or may not have said. Honestly, I don’t care. The industry is filled with professional organizations, some of which are “mom and pop” backed businesses but they are reputable all the same.

    Technology and accountability are critical elements of a compliance plan, there is no disputing that. The “us versus them” should be entities choosing to better the industry versus those choosing to stand idle, not XYZ group versus 123 group. Otherwise we should just get out the donkey and the elephant.

  • avatar Joel Rosenthal says:

    The key point I was making is that NAPPS and their state affiliates chose not to participate in the Summit or the standards process. Even now, I would rather receive comments from NAPPS and the state groups on the standards themselves rather than on my blog post.

  • avatar randyscott says:

    With all due respect I sat on this blog for a while. I am amazed that there is so much conflict in the industry. Most of us are hardworking skilled investigators and it is incumbent on us to know the truth. Use google and enter in “Norman Yellon”.

    JJL has some connections or issues in the past. But the fact is they have moved on. They are implementing programs and standards that may face challenges. I may not agree with them, but I see nothing about their actions being anything but honorable. Mistakes happen and the best way to deal with it is being different. I commend JJL for efforts and think there are many who have not taken that enlightened path …yet. We as process servers need to help everyone heading in a open and transparent direction. We also need to hold those other groups embarking on a secret network in a non profit environment accountable to free trade.

  • avatar randyscott says:

    Great to look back on these conversations as the industry changes are nigh!

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