Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Abigail Lootens / Christine Gianakis
Department of Consumer Affairs
(212) 436-0042

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City Hall in Your Borough: Department of Consumer of Affairs Announces VIP—the Visiting Inspector Program—to Help New Licensees Understand the Law and Avoid Fines

Thousands of New Brick-and-Mortar Businesses to Receive Free Educational Inspections to Learn about DCA Laws and How to Avoid Violations

NEW YORK, NY–Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced VIP, or the Visiting Inspector Program, which will provide new brick-and-mortar DCA licensees with a free, educational inspection so they can better understand the DCA laws that apply to their business and how to avoid fines. More than 3,500 businesses each year—from electronic stores and cigarette retail dealers to employment agencies and sidewalk cafes—that receive a new license in dozens of industries licensed by DCA will now be able to schedule an educational inspection within three months of receiving their license. The program was announced at one of the City's small business walks in Jamaica during Mayor de Blasio’s City Hall in Your Borough.

During the violation-free inspection, one of DCA’s senior inspectors will provide the business with important information about how to comply with the laws that DCA enforces, including licensing laws, the City’s Consumer Protection Law, and workplace laws like the City’s Paid Sick Leave Law. The free educational inspection will be conducted in the business’ language of choice. DCA encourages businesses to fix any potential violations immediately so they can avoid violations during their first official inspection, which will be conducted within a year. VIP is part of DCA’s ongoing efforts, under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, to educate and reduce fines for small businesses.

“It can be challenging to know and understand what you need to do to comply with the regulations that apply to your business,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “With VIP, new licensees can start out on the right foot by learning about the DCA laws that apply to their businesses from some of our most seasoned inspectors. With a culture of compliance, businesses and their communities can grow and thrive.”

VIP builds on DCA’s small business relief package to reduce the number and cost of fines, increase transparency and fairness, and expand the education of and outreach to businesses. Overall, small business fines are down by more than 50% compared to when Mayor de Blasio first took office in January 2014. In 2016, DCA conducted 14 Business Education Days to educate more than 870 small businesses about consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to them—without issuing violations. This year, DCA has conducted six Business Education Days and visited 451 businesses. DCA’s website,, has easy-to-read Inspection Checklists in more than 40 industries and in many languages so businesses know what inspectors look for during inspections, as well as sample forms, signs, and templates. If a business has a question, they can Live Chat with a DCA representative Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except holidays) and if they have a question about laws that DCA enforces, speak with DCA’s Business Compliance Counsel.

“We are making New York City the best place to start, operate, and grow a small business by transforming the way the City interacts with small businesses,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Instead of saddling business owners with fines and penalties, we are promoting compliance through education and support. This is helping small business owners create jobs, strengthen our neighborhoods, and make New York City a great place to live.”

“Gone are the gotcha days,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal, Chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs. “Under the de Blasio administration, DCA has made a genuine effort to support businesses and protect consumers by encouraging cures to violations and reducing fines. This is so important to the stability and vibrancy of our marketplace and this is yet another example of local government working with our small businesses, rather than against them.”

“As Chair of the Council’s Committee on Small Business, I understand the burden small business owners face in complying with City regulations,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. “Unfortunately, too many businesses in this city are not as well informed of their regulatory responsibilities. The educational approach of the Visiting Inspector Program is exactly the kind of outreach needed from city agencies to ensure businesses are afforded an opportunity to learn about and comply with regulations that apply to them. I commend Commissioner Salas and the entire DCA team for their innovative approach and for their commitment to improving the regulatory landscape for New York City’s small business owners.”

“I am proud to have supported many laws that protect workers and our communities, and am pleased to see the Department of Consumer Affairs launch this education program so they can be properly enforced” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “By ensuring small businesses are compliant with these laws, we can continue to reduce the fines they would have to pay and ensure that New Yorkers are living the quality of life they deserve. I would like to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Lorelei Salas for implementing the Visiting Inspector program.”

"This program will ensure that business owners are given an appropriate amount of time to understand DCA laws before they are inundated with costly violations," said Senator Leroy Comrie. "Moreover, it is my hope that it will facilitate better relationships between the City and small business owner. I thank Mayor de Blasio for throwing City Hall's support behind entrepreneurs here in Southeast Queens."

"The Queens Chamber of Commerce is very happy to support the VIP initiative,” said Thomas J. Grech, Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “This program dovetails well with our educational focus and supports small business awareness throughout Queens County and beyond"

“Starting a new business, or an existing business, is exciting, but, can also be overwhelming when one is not completely aware of rules and regulations,” said Valerie Stevens, Director of Business Services and Operations for the Jamaica Center BID. “The VIP program will actually work collectively with JBID’s efforts in providing the necessary resources our businesses need to continue to thrive. The JBID is thankful and excited”.

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCA licenses more than 81,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCA protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCA empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCA also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCA and its work, call 311 or visit DCA at or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.