This post concerns this Act: PROFESSIONS, OCCUPATIONS, AND BUSINESS OPERATIONS
(225 ILCS 447/) Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor, and Locksmith Act of 2004. The Act
I’m a Licensed Private Detective, not an Attorney.
Honorable Attorney, Edward Williams, is Illinois’ foremost legal expert regarding Illinois process serving laws. His classes are well worth the admission price for interested persons who desire to be in complete compliance with all of the process serving laws in Illinois.
Attorney Edward Williams’ Introduction To Process Serving In Illinois
For those claiming unlicensed persons in Illinois may solicit and accept process service work from outside of Illinois, as an occupation, without the necessity for a valid Private Detective’s license, and operate an unlicensed process serving businesses in Illinois, the Apellate court upheld the lower court’s decision to quash Mr. Brady’s affidavit for unqualified, defective service.
About a year later, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations allegedly disciplined Mr. Robert Brady, for advertising and performing the occupational duties of an Illinois Private Detective, in connection with his practice of process serving, without being properly licensed as a Private Detective or PERC employee of a licensed PI agency.
This post was not meant to disparage Mr. Brady; rather, it’s my hope that those currently engaged in the unlicensed occupation of service of process, as I was at one time as well, might become better informed by Brady’s experience so as not to share a similar outcome.
If you are a honorably discharged Military Veteran, however, you have been granted special privileges, thankfully. This exclusion wasn’t available when I started Guaranteed Process Service last century and ran afoul of IDFPR regulations, unfortunately. I received a cease and desist warning and had to obtain a PI license just to serve process in Illinois. Thank you Illinois for finally recognizing us Vets.
Unlicensed individuals may receive a one-off, special appointment from a circuit court to serve a specific case; however, it’s unlawful to operate a wildcat, motion and order, process serving business in Illinois without a PI license, unfortunately. Possessing a PERC grants no special privileges to operate a process serving business unless a PERC holder is employed by a properly licensed, 117 detective agency, and/or manages, or is employed at a licensed, PI branch office.
(735 ILCS 5/) Code of Civil Procedure.
Private Detective Branch Office Application
Caveat: with regard to the Illinois Private Detective’s Act, since there is no actual occupational title as “process server,” (except for Military Veterans,) as there are in other states, IDFPR disciplinary actions concerning unlicensed process service practices are referred to as violations of the Private Detective’s act.
The only (non-Sheriff) class of persons who may fully operate process serving businesses, without a Private Detective’s license and by special appointment, per-case, are honorably discharged, Military Veterans.
(225 ILCS 447/15-5)
“(7) A person appointed by the circuit court pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure to make service of process in a specific case, provided that such person is not otherwise engaged in the business of serving process.
A person appointed by the circuit court pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure who is an honorably discharged veteran of the armed forces of the United States and is self-employed as a process server.”
The disciplinary action,
“Robert Brady, Carpentersville – Permanent employee registration card revoked and fined $5,000 due to unlicensed detective practice and failure to comply with Department’s Notice of Unlicensed Practice to cease advertising and practicing unlicensed detective work.”
All IDFPR disciplinary actions are private adjudications between the department and individuals. The Department provides only a cursory overview about the outcomes on their monthly disciplinary action reports, however.
IDFPR Monthly Disciplinary Action Reports
Here are the laws concerning persons who are exempt from the Illinois, Private Detective Act.
(225 ILCS 447/15-5)
(Section scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 2024)
Sec. 15-5. Exemptions; private detective. The provisions of this Act relating to the licensure of private detectives do not apply to any of the following:
(1) An employee of the United States, Illinois, or a political subdivision of either while the employee is engaged in the performance of his or her official duties within the scope of his or her employment. However, any such person who offers his or her services as a private detective or uses a similar title when these services are performed for compensation or other consideration, whether received directly or indirectly, is subject to this Act.
(2) A person, firm, or other entity engaged exclusively in tracing and compiling lineage or ancestry who does not hold himself or herself out to be a private detective.
(3) A person engaged exclusively in obtaining and furnishing information, including providing reports, as to the financial rating or creditworthiness of persons in connection with (i) consumer credit transactions, (ii) information for employment purposes, or (iii) information for the underwriting of consumer insurance.
(4) Insurance adjusters employed or under contract as adjusters who engage in no other investigative activities other than those directly connected with adjustment of claims against an insurance company or a self-insured entity by which they are employed or with which they have a contract. No insurance adjuster or company may use the term “investigation” or any derivative thereof, in its name or in its advertising.
(5) A person, firm, or other entity engaged in providing computer forensics services so long as the person, firm, or other entity does not hold himself or herself out to be a private detective. For the purposes of this item
(5), “computer forensics services” means a branch of forensic science pertaining to the recovery and analysis of electronically stored information.
(6) A person employed as an investigator exclusively by only one employer in connection with the exclusive activities of that employer and who does not hold himself or herself out to be a private detective.
(7) A person appointed by the circuit court pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure to make service of process in a specific case, provided that such person is not otherwise engaged in the business of serving process.
(8) A person appointed by the circuit court pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure who is an honorably discharged veteran of the armed forces of the United States and is self-employed as a process server.
(Source: P.A. 98-253, eff. 8-9-13.)
For Police Officers
(l) No person may be employed under this Section in any capacity if:
(1) the person, while so employed, is being paid by the United States or any political subdivision for the time so employed in addition to any payments he or she may receive from the employer; or
(2) the person wears any portion of his or her official uniform, emblem of authority, or equipment while so employed.
(m) If information is discovered affecting the registration of a person whose fingerprints were submitted under this Section, the Department shall so notify the agency that submitted the fingerprints on behalf of that person.
(n) Peace officers shall be exempt from the requirements of this Section relating to permanent employee registration cards. The agency shall remain responsible for any peace officer employed under this exemption, regardless of whether the peace officer is compensated as an employee or as an independent contractor and as further defined by rule.
The social media exchange that inspired this post.
Jan 1, 2013, From: Erika,
“Hello, I have a couple of questions regarding process serving in Illinois. Is it mandatory to have a “PERC” card to be able to serve in Illinois? I have read the Illinois rule for process serving and it’s seems to the point but lately, I’ve asked other servers (especially in Cook County) questions about serving, and the first thing they ask me is< “Do you have a PERC card?
A couple of servers said they have one because the company requires them to have it, which I understand (private investigating firms require you to have a PERC card.)
Another person I spoke to said he was getting the PERC card because he hears that other companies have their card.
He has owned his own process serving/law support business for over 10 years.
I ask him where is it written that he needs this….he said he should just get one, just be safe. He told me that some motions to appoint special process server were denied because no license number was provided for him and he lost out on some services.
Will the PERC card provide me with a license number or is there another license I should be inquiring about. Again, he really didn’t answer the question 😦
I have worked in the legal field (litigation) for 12 years and I’ve decided to start my own business for process serving and clerical legal support.
I’m familiar with Cook County, DuPage County and Lake County Courts. I just can’t seem to find the reason or answer for PERC card for process serving and was hoping someone could help me with this.
Also, would a process serving class be useful to take or should I take the Private Investigation class…or both? I’m not starting a private investigation business, yet, but should I?
Thank you and have a great day!”
On January 6th, 2013, a licensed private detective in Chicago responded to Erica in what I consider to be a very respectful and professional manner.
The Chicago Private Detective’s response to Erica.
“That is correct but it does NOT mean one can “operate a business of serving court papers”. It means that a Judge can appoint a person over the age of 18 and not a party to the suit to serve a court document on that ONE particular case. It is primarily done for people who are indigent and cannot afford to hire the sheriff or private detective to spend enormous hours trying to serve someone who is trying to avoid.
The law specifically states that one cannot advertise or solicit customers, clients to serve court documents without a private detective business. In other words if you are going to have a business of “serving court papers” you must be a licensed private detective.
I would encourage you to seek the advice of legal counsel or to call the agency that regulates the profession, IL Dept of Prof Regulation for an exact clarification of the law if you feel that you can operate a business of serving court papers without a detective license in Illinois.”
“PRIVATE DETECTIVE LICENSE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
License applicants should first review the following requirements to determine whether you will meet the eligibility requirements for the particular license for which you are applying. If you clearly meet the eligibility requirements, complete and pay for the online application at Continental Testing Services. Then, register for our exam prep seminar and you will receive a confirmation email from our office within a day or so.
If you are not sure whether you meet the requirements, feel free to call us to discuss.
All the following must be true:
Minimum 21 years of age.
No felony convictions in the last 10 years.
Not currently suffering from alcohol or substance abuse.
Possess good moral character.
Not been dishonorably discharged from the military.
Additionally, a Private Detective applicant needs to accumulate 3 years of qualifying eligibility out of the previous 5 years. Any combination of qualifying experience that totals 3 years will allow an applicant to sit for the examination. The following experience will count toward the Private Detective eligibility requirement:
Baccalaureate degree, or higher, in law enforcement or a related field or a business degree from an accredited college or university will count for 2 years. An associate degree will count as 1 year.
Working as a full-time employee (PERC) for a licensed private detective agency.
An investigator for a licensed attorney, a state, federal or local law enforcement agency, a state’s attorney’s office or a public defender’s office.
In-house investigative unit for a corporation having 100 or more employees.
An investigator for any of the armed forces of the United States.”
Attorney, Ed Williams’ website
The information contained in this publication is provided solely for educational purposes and does not constitute and should not be relied upon as legal advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with the law and you need to understand that the tools and product offerings described herein do not guarantee compliance. Accordingly, you need to consult with your own independent legal counsel regarding the topics addressed herein and how best you can comply with the law.
Every effort has been made to make this content as accurate as possible at the time of publication. However, there may be typographical and/or content errors. Therefore, this publication should serve only as a general guide and not as the ultimate source of subject information.
Feel free to post comments or add criticism in the comment section below. If any portion of this post is incorrect, I will gladly edit it.