B&P Code § 17538.5 – Commercial Mail Receiving Agency
Business and Professions Code § 17538.5 Commercial Mail Receiving Agency
(a) It is unlawful in the sale or offering for sale of consumer goods or services for any person conducting, any business in this state which utilizes a post office box address, a private mailbox receiving service, or a street address representing a site used for the receipt or delivery of mail or as a telephone answering service, to fail to disclose the legal name under which business is done and, except as provided in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b), the complete street address from which business is actually conducted in all advertising and promotional materials, including order blanks and forms. Any violation of the provisions of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both.
(b) (1) This section shall not apply to a person who sells the preponderance of goods and services at retail from trade premises which are open to the public regularly during normal business hours where the post office box or telephone answering service is supportive of and ancillary to the sales made or to any person who provides services pursuant to a license issued pursuant to this code or any other provision of law by a state board or agency or, except for a person conducting a mail order or catalog business, by a city or county or city and county in this state, which has the person’s current business street address or home address on record and which is authorized to reveal that address to inquiring persons.
(2) If a person conducts a business described in subdivision (a) from that person’s residence, the person is not required to disclose the residence address if both of the following conditions are satisfied:
(A) The person’s current business street address or home address is contained in a United States Postal Service (USPS) Form 1583 that is filed with the USPS.
(B) The person has signed an acknowledgement form substantially in accordance with the provisions set forth in subdivision (f) which, among other things, authorizes the commercial mail receiving agency to act as that person’s agent for service of process.
(c) A commercial mail receiving agency (CMRA) shall not provide private mailbox receiving service to any customer until it obtains from that customer at least two pieces of identification regarding that customer and provides to that customer an acknowledgment, as set forth in subdivision (f), which (1) acknowledges the obligation to advise the CMRA of any change in address, (2) authorizes the CMRA to act as an agent for service of process, and (3) acknowledges the requirements of Sections 17200 and 17500, which prohibit unfair competition and false advertising. The commercial mail receiving agency shall thereafter maintain a copy of any United States Postal Service Form 1583 for each mailbox service customer, along with a copy of each of the two pieces of identification used by the customer, for a period of two years after the termination of service to that customer. Upon the request of the Department of Consumer Affairs or any law enforcement agency conducting an investigation, the commercial mail receiving agency shall make available to the Department of Consumer Affairs or that law enforcement agency, for purposes of that investigation and copying, its copy of the United States Postal Service Form 1583 and the two pieces of identification used by the customer.
(d) (1) Every person receiving private mailbox receiving service from a CMRA in this state shall be required to sign an agreement, along with a USPS Form 1583, which authorizes the CMRA owner or operator to act as agent for service of process for the mail receiving service customer. Every CMRA owner or operator shall be required to accept service of process for and on behalf of any of their mail receiving service customers, and for two years after termination of any mail receiving service customer agreement. Upon receipt of any process for any mailbox service customer, the CMRA owner or operator shall (A) within 48 hours after receipt of any process, place a copy of the documents or a notice that the documents were received into the customer’s mailbox or other place where the customer usually receives his or her mail, unless the mail receiving service for the customer was previously terminated, and (B) within five days after receipt, send all documents by first-class mail, to the last known home or personal address of the mail receiving service customer. The CMRA shall obtain a certificate of mailing in connection with the mailing of the documents. Service of process upon the mail receiving service customer shall then be deemed perfected 10 days after the date of mailing.
If the CMRA owner or operator has complied with the foregoing requirements and provides to any party participating in a lawsuit involving a mail receiving service customer a declaration of service by mail, given under penalty of perjury along with a certificate of mailing, the CMRA owner or operator shall have no further liability in connection with acting as agent for service of process for its mail receiving service customer.
(2) Upon complaint or inquiry concerning any CMRA mail receiving service customer, the CMRA owner or operator shall inform the person making the complaint or inquiry that the CMRA is an authorized agent for service of process on the mail receiving service customer.
(3) Upon presentation of a certified copy of a judgment, the CMRA shall disclose to the judgment creditor the last known address of any of its mail receiving service customers against whom the judgment was obtained.
(e) An owner or operator of a CMRA who, acting in good faith, contacts a governmental agency concerning suspected illegal or fraudulent activities carried out by a mail receiving service customer shall have no liability for claims filed by the customer arising out of that contact. No owner or operator of a commercial mail receiving agency that maintains on file a copy of the United States Postal Service Form 1583 for its private mailbox receiving service customers and complies with subdivision (c) shall be liable for any illegal acts of any mail receiving service customer based only on the fact that the owner or operator of the CMRA provided mail receiving services to the customer.
(f) The following acknowledgement and notice, substantially in the form set forth below, shall be delivered to each person obtaining private mailbox receiving service at a CMRA:
“ACKNOWLEDGEMENT BY PRIVATE MAILBOX SERVICE CUSTOMERS
This acknowledgement is required by Section 17538.5 of the Business and Professions Code.
Any person obtaining private mailbox receiving service in the State of California must read and acknowledge receipt of the following statement, which is to be kept on file at this CMRA and will be made available, upon demand, to the Department of Consumer Affairs or any law enforcement agency conducting an investigation.
By requesting and obtaining use of a private mailbox receiving service in the State of California, I acknowledge that:
- I am obligated to disclose my actual home address or place of residence on a USPS Form 1583 or other form as may later be developed and I further agree that I will provide prompt written notice to this CMRA of any subsequent change in my home address or place of residence.
- By signing below, I irrevocably authorize this CMRA to act as my agent for service of process to receive any legal documents that may be served upon me. This authorization shall continue from the date of this agreement until two years after my mail receiving service has been terminated. I understand that this CMRA will (A) place a copy of the documents or a notice that the documents were received into my mailbox or other place where I usually receive my mail, unless my mail receiving service has been terminated, and (B) send all documents by first-class mail to the home or other address last known to the CMRA.
- I further acknowledge that I understand that use of a private mailbox receiving service for commercial purposes in the State of California requires the user to comply with all applicable laws, including Section 17538.5 of the Business and Professions Code and laws prohibiting unfair competition and false advertising as set forth in Sections 17200 and 17500 of the Business and Professions Code. Violation of these laws may result in criminal or civil penalties or both. I understand that the United States Postal Service Form 1583 that must be prepared for each private mailbox receiving service customer shall be delivered to the local United States Post Office and a copy of the form must be retained by this CMRA and made available upon demand to the Department of Consumer Affairs or any law enforcement agency conducting an investigation. I hereby agree to accept and abide by the foregoing requirements.
Name Printed _____
Street Address _____
(Amended by Stats. 1994, Ch. 684, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 1995.)