Frequently Asked Questions


Corporate Information

Contact the California Secretary of State if you are looking for information regarding:

  • Organization of corporations, limited liability companies, or limited partnerships
  • Companies incorporated in California
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Certificates of good standing
  • Current officers and directors
  • Agents for service of process or
  • Name availability

The Secretary of State can be reached at:

California Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-6814 or visit the California Secretary of State's website

You may visit http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/business.htm for access to information available from the Business Programs Division of the Secretary of State. This division of the California Secretary of State files a variety of documents including UCC financing statements, trademarks, business entity documents, and other statutorily-required special filings and also is responsible for appointing and commissioning notaries public.

Corporate Names

Q. My company is not actually engaged in the banking or trust business, but I want to use a corporate name that contains the words "bank" or "trust." The Secretary of State requires that I first receive approval from the Department of Business Oversight. How do I receive approval of a corporate name?

A. In order to use a corporate name that contains the words "bank" or "trust" (or similar words), you must apply for a Certificate of Approval of Name from the Department. An application for a Certificate of Approval of Name should be in the form of a letter addressed to the Licensing Division in our San Francisco office at 45 Fremont Street, Suite 1700, San Francisco, California 94105.

The application must include:

  • the name of the proposed corporation,
  • a short description of the business the proposed corporation intends to conduct,
  • a check in the amount of $25.00 made payable to the Commissioner of Business Oversight, and
  • a copy of the signed Articles of Incorporation of the proposed corporation. Please allow up to two weeks for processing.

For reference, see the Corporate Name Approval Law (Financial Code §730 et seq.).

Q. The Bureau of Real Estate (BRE) requires that I receive a approval from the Department of Business Oversight before I do business as a mortgage broker because I want to use a fictitious business name that contains the words "bank" or "trust." How do I receive approval of a fictitious business name that will satisfy the DRE?

A. In order to use a fictitious business name that contains the words "bank" or "trust" (or similar words), you must apply for a "Letter of No-Objection" from the Department. An application for a Letter of No-Objection should be in the form of a letter addressed to the Licensing Division in our San Francisco office.

The application must include:

  • a request for a Letter of No-Objection,
  • the fictitious business name you intend to use, and
  • a short description of the business. Please allow up to two weeks for processing.

DBO Consumer Services Office

Q. What does the DBO Consumer Services Office do?

A. The DBO Consumer Services Office facilitates communication between consumers and the various financial institutions, companies and products that DBO regulates to assist in the dispute resolution process.

DBO licensees include state-licensed banks and credit unions, money transmitters, issuers of payment instruments and travelers' checks, and premium finance companies. Additionally, the Department licenses and regulates a variety of financial businesses, including securities brokers and dealers, investment advisers, deferred deposit (commonly known as payday loans) and certain fiduciaries and lenders. The Department regulates the offer and sale of securities, franchises and off-exchange commodities. For the complete list, see the Department’s page about Licensees and Regulated Industries. The DBO also receives complaints regarding the California Fair Lending Law for investigation.

Having an issue with a financial institution can be very frustrating. The best way to receive help and advice is to take a moment to find out which resource is the most appropriate for you to use. See the links included on this page and the description below to find the appropriate resource for your needs.

Because you and your bank, credit union, or money transmitter are most familiar with your account(s), please contact them directly to try to resolve any issue you may have. You may wish to contact senior management or the entity's consumer affairs representative for further assistance.

Important Note: The Consumer Services Office is not an advocate for the individual consumer or the licensee. The Consumer Services Office facilitates communication between the consumers and the financial institution to assist in the dispute resolution process. We do not have the statutory authority to award damages, overturn fines or other charges, etc.

Q. How do I file a complaint with a financial institution, company or product licensed by the Department?

A. A step-by-step process is explained in the DBO Consumer Services Office section of the Web site at www.dbo.ca.gov/Consumers/online_complaints.asp.

Locating funds from an old/inactive account (Unclaimed Property)

Q. How can I locate money that I had in an account a long time ago?

A. Go to the State Controller's Office Unclaimed Property (UCP) Program Web site to complete a search for funds. Or you can call them at:
1-800-992-4647 (California residents); or
(916) 323-2827 (out-of-state or foreign)

Liens (information on locating merged, acquired and closed financial institutions)

Q. How Do I Get a "Lien Satisfied" for my automobile?

A. Complete a search on the Financial Institution Listing (DMV database), an alphabetized listing of banks, credit unions and financial/ lending institutions.

This listing was developed to help you find the legal owner/lienholder shown on your vehicle record. The financial institution may have moved, gone out of business, merged with another institution, or changed its name. If you have difficulty locating the legal owner/lienholder to obtain a release, try the alphabetized Financial Institution Listing below.

The Financial Institution Listing will display the following:

  • The bank, credit union or financial/lending institution's name.
  • A possible successor (acquiring financial institution).
  • The financial institution's address.
  • The financial institution's telephone number.

Q. My automobile loan was paid off before my financial institution failed, or was acquired or merged, but I did not receive the title to my vehicle.

How can I locate the surviving institution?

A. You may be able to locate the survivor by checking the National Information Center (NIC) database on the Federal Financial Institution Council (FFIEC)'s website http://www.ffiec.gov/consumercenter/default.aspx. You can also check with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's Division of Liquidations at 1-888-206-4662.

DMV Financial Institution Listing (DMV Database)
A listing to help you locate the legal owner/lien holder shown on your vehicle record.

Q. My mortgage was paid off but title to my residence was not reconveyed back to me before my financial institution failed, was sold or merged with another institution.

How can I locate the surviving institution to get my title cleared?

A. Your title company can engage the services of a company that specializes in tracking surviving institutions. You may also be able to locate the survivor by checking the National Information Center (NIC) database on the Federal Financial Institution Council (FFIEC)'s website: http://www.ffiec.gov/consumercenter/default.aspx. You can also check with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's Division of Liquidations at 1-888-206-4662.

Q. My automobile loan was paid off before my financial institution failed, or was acquired or merged, but I did not receive the title to my vehicle.

How can I locate the surviving institution?

A. You may be able to locate the survivor by checking the National Information Center (NIC) database on the Federal Financial Institution Council (FFIEC)'s website http://www.ffiec.gov/consumercenter/default.aspx. You can also check with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's Division of Liquidations at 1-888-206-4662.

Q. My mortgage was paid off but title to my residence was not reconveyed back to me before my financial institution failed, was sold or merged with another institution.

How can I locate the surviving institution to get my title cleared?

A. Your title company can engage the services of a company that specializes in tracking surviving institutions. You may be able to locate the survivor by checking the National Information Center (NIC) database on the Federal Financial Institution Council (FFIEC)'s website http://www.ffiec.gov/consumercenter/default.aspx. You can also check with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's Division of Liquidations at 1-888-206-4662.

How may I obtain a listing of licensees regulated by the department's Financial Services Division?

Lists can be obtained for each industry Licensed by the Department's Financial Services Division in either paper or electronic form.

The following lists are available for purchase. The cost of an electronic copy which you will receive via e-mail is $20.00 for each report. The cost for a paper list is stated below.

  • ESCROW LICENSEES - $17.00
  • CHECK SELLERS, BILL PAYERS AND PRORATERS - $5.00
  • CALIFORNIA FINANCE LENDERS - $87.00
  • MORTGAGE BANKERS - $77.00
  • CALIFORNIA DEFERRED DEPOSIT TRANSACTION LAW - $43.00

Please send your request, along with a check or money order to cover the cost of each list, to:

Department of Business Oversight
Division of Corporations

Attention: Cashier
320 West 4th Street, Suite 750
Los Angeles, CA 90013-1105

In your request, please include your mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

If you have questions, please e-mail FinancialServices.Licensees@dbo.ca.gov or call 1-866-275-2677.

Money Transmitter - Frequently Asked Questions as of 02/11/13

Q. If I want to be in the business of sending money, do I need a license?

A.
Yes. If you or your company receive money from California, for the purpose of sending it to another country or within the United States, your company needs to be licensed as a Money Transmitter.

Q.
How long does it take to get a license?

A.
The processing time for a successful applicant varies significantly, but ranges from a few months to approximately a year.

Q.
Can I operate a transmitter business while the application is pending?

A.
No. The license must actually be issued before you can operate a transmitter business.

Q.
Can an individual get a license?

A.
No. You must be a corporation or limited liability company to apply for a transmitter license.

Q.
What is the capital requirement?

A.
The capital requirement varies based on the applicant or licensee’s plan of operation, risk profile, and in accordance with the requirements of the California Financial Code. An applicant shall possess, and a licensee shall maintain at all times, tangible shareholder’s equity of two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) to five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000), depending on estimated or actual transaction volume, as determined by the commissioner based on the factors described in financial code section 2040 subdivision (c). The commissioner may increase the amount of net worth required of an applicant or licensee if the commissioner determines, with respect to the applicant or licensee, that a higher net worth is necessary to achieve the purpose of division 2040 (a), (b), and (c).

Q.
Is there a bonding and/or security requirement?

A.
Yes. Financial Code Section 2037(a) “requires that transmitters deposit with the State Treasurer cash or securities as security for the timely and proper delivery of transmission money. A surety bond may be substituted for the cash or securities under Financial Code Section 2037(c)”.

Q.
How much is the bonding requirement?

A.
A money transmitter that sells or issues payment instruments or stored value is required to maintain securities on deposit or a bond of a surety company in an amount no less than $500,000 or 50% of the average daily outstanding payment instrument and stored value obligations in California (Average Daily Transmission Liability “ATDL”) whichever is greater, provided that such amount shall not be more than $2,000,000 (Financial Code Section 2037(d)). Furthermore, a money transmitter that engages in receiving money for transmission shall maintain securities on deposit or a bond of a surety company in an amount greater than the average daily outstanding obligations for money received for transmission in California (ADTL), if such amount shall not be less than $250,000 nor more than $7,000,000 (Financial Code Section 2037(e)).

Q.
What has to be submitted to get a proposed receipt approved?

A. There are only three items that must be submitted:

  1. The proposed receipt including the required "Right to Refund" clause.
  2. Translator's Certificate
  3. Officer's Certificate

Q. Does the Translator's Certificate have to be signed by a certified translator?

A. No. The Translator's Certificate only needs to be signed by a person who is fluent in English and in the other language on the receipt.

Q. Who may sign the Officer's Certificate?

A. Any company officer who is in a position to know that the receipt submitted is actually being used by the licensee and its agents may sign the Officer's Certificate. Depending on the corporate structure, the list of acceptable officers includes, but is not limited to, the president, the corporate secretary, the operations officer, the domestic manager of a foreign corporation, or any other senior officer who performs similar corporate functions.

Q. What are the required parts of a receipt?

A. California Financial Code sections 2102 and 2103 govern receipts. The receipt must:

  1. Include the name of sender (customer).
  2. Include the name of beneficiary (recipient).
  3. List the amount of money, in dollars, that the customer wishes to send. (This is often referred to as the "Net Exchange," "Net Amount," or "Sent Amount." )
  4. Clearly indicate the rate of exchange, if the recipient is to receive payment in a currency other than dollars. See #6.
  5. List the amount of all fees, commissions, and other charges.
  6. State the total amount of money the customer is to present to the transmitter.
  7. State the total amount to be delivered to the beneficiary. Normally, this amount would equal the net exchange (Item A) times the rate of exchange (Item B). However, sometimes the disbursing party in the beneficiary's country also charges a fee. If the transmitter requires that a specific disbursing party be used in the transmission, the transmitter shall disclose the amount of any additional fees to the customer. If the customer directs the transmitter to use a specific disbursing party, the transmitter must list the total amount it will deliver to the disbursing party.
  8. Include the "RIGHT TO REFUND" clause in at least a 10-point bold font EXACTLY as worded below with the transmitter's name and address filling in the appropriate spaces.
  9. Date of transaction.

RIGHT TO REFUND

A.You, the customer, are entitled to a refund of the money to be transmitted as the result of this agreement if ______________________(name of licensee) does not forward the money received from you within 10 days of the date of its receipt, or does not give instructions committing an equivalent amount of money to the person designated by you within 10 days of the date of the receipt of the funds from you unless otherwise instructed by you.

If your instructions as to when the moneys shall be forwarded or transmitted are not complied with and the money has not yet been forwarded or transmitted, you have a right to a refund of your money.

If you want a refund, you must mail or deliver your written request to ________________ (name of licensee) at _____________________(mailing address of licensee). If you do not receive your refund, you may be entitled to your money back plus a penalty of up to $1,000 and attorney's fees pursuant to section 2102 of the California Financial Code.

Q. What should be the order of the required parts?

A. The required parts do not need to be listed in a particular order. However, the receipt must be organized so that it is understandable.

Q. If a transmitter collects, sends, and delivers only U.S. dollars, does it need to include an "exchange rate" on the receipt?

A. A transmitter may omit an "exchange rate" on the receipt if it collects, sends, and delivers only dollars, subject to the following condition. The receipt must clearly indicate that funds are being collected, sent, and delivered only in dollars. This requirement can be satisfied by preprinting on the receipt "U.S. dollars" or "USD" after each of the following required parts: "Net Amount or Sent Amount"; "Fees"; "Total Amount Presented"; and "Total Amount to be Delivered to Beneficiary." Alternatively, an email or other written confirmation may be made to Department of Business Oversight that only U.S. dollars will be involved in the transactions, and that will suffice. See #8.

Q. Does the "Right to Refund" language need to be on the receipt?

A. No. The "Right to Refund" language can be on the receipt or attached to it.

Q. What kinds of changes in an existing approved receipt would necessitate the submission and approval of a new receipt?

A. Any proposed material change to a receipt must be submitted for Department approval. Examples of material changes include, but are not limited to, the following: changing any language of the required parts; decreasing the font size of any material portions of a receipt; modifying the "Terms and Conditions" of a receipt, if applicable; substantially changing the presentation order of the material elements of the receipt listed under 4, above; or changing other items, such as the licensee, agent and dba matters addressed in numbers 15 and 16, below.

Examples of changes that would not be material and would not require submission to the Department include changing the background color of a receipt; changing a border; changing a telephone number, changing the name and address of an agent, or moving the agent's name from one area of the receipt to another.

Q. What is the penalty if a transmitter fails to obtain approval of a receipt it is using?

A. A transmitter is subject to a fine of fifty dollars ($50) for each unapproved receipt it issues.

Q. When is a receipt considered "approved"?

A. The Department will notify a transmitter by letter that its receipt is approved. The date of the approval letter is the date that a receipt is considered approved.

Q. What languages, beside English, are required to be on a receipt?

A. A receipt must be provided in English and in the language principally used by the licensee to advertise, solicit, or negotiate (whether orally or in writing). In addition to the translations required above, the licensee may include translations of additional languages on the receipt. However, the translation into the other languages must be directly from English. A copy of the receipt with all translations on or attached to it must be submitted to the Department of Business Oversight with an appropriate translator's certificate. The receipt must receive Department of Business Oversight's approval prior to usage.

Q. Why must receipts list the net exchange amount as well as the total amount presented by the customer? Aren't they the same thing?

A. The net exchange amount and total amount presented by the customer are two different things.

A. The net exchange amount refers to the amount of money that is to be transmitted. The total amount presented includes the net exchange amount plus all fees, commissions, and other charges.

Q. Why must receipts list the amount that the beneficiary will receive as well as the net amount? Aren't they the same thing?

A. They are not the same thing. The net exchange amount refers to the amount of money that is transmitted to the disbursing party in the foreign country. However, if the disbursing party charges a fee, then the amount to be distributed to the beneficiary would be less than the net exchange amount. See# 4E, above.

Q. Is it OK to send an automatic confirmation for online transactions to let the customer know that the order has been received and is in process and then send a standard receipt once the money is transmitted?

A. An approved electronic receipt must be issued to the customer by email as soon as he or she submits an order online. A generic, automatically generated confirmation email may not be used in lieu of an approved receipt even if an approved receipt is eventually mailed to the customer.

Q. Is the licensee's name required to be on every receipt, even those issued by an agent of the licensee?

A. Yes, the licensee's name must be on the face of each receipt issued by the licensee or its agents. In addition, the licensee's name must also be disclosed in the "right to refund" statement that must be physically attached to the receipt.

Q. Does a licensee have to use its own name at each place of business or may it use a dba ("Doing Business As") or fictitious name?

A. A licensee may use a dba that is different from the licensee's name, but each dba must be registered with the Department of Business Oversight prior to conducting any business under that dba name. See Financial Code section 2041. Furthermore, each receipt issued must clearly identify the licensee on its face. See #15, above.

Remittance Disclosures and Regulation E

Q. Can a DBO money transmitter licensee use a single receipt to meet the disclosure requirements of the California Money Transmission Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Remittance Rule (Regulation E)?

A. Yes. DBO licensees can use a single receipt for money received for transmission so long as the receipt complies with all of the disclosure requirements set forth in:

  1. The California Money Transmission Act (Chapter 6, Division 1.2 of the California Financial Code); and
  2. Regulation E (12 C.F.R. § 1005.31), including but not limited to “grouping,” “proximity,” “prominence and size,” and “segregation” requirements set forth in 12 CFR § 1005.31(c); including the “date available” regarding when funds will be available in the foreign country; and a statement about the rights of the sender regarding the resolution of errors and cancellation. (12 CFR § 1005.31(b)(2)(ii),(iv).).
    Following is a link to 12 C.F.R. § 1005.31.

    If a DBO licensee chooses to modify its existing receipt to include the Regulation E requirements, the licensee must submit its proposed revised receipt for DBO approval.

Q. Is a DBO money transmitter licensee required to wait 30 minutes before transferring the funds in order to give the sender an opportunity to cancel pursuant to Regulation E, 12 C.F.R. § 1005.34?

A. No. A licensee may transmit the funds immediately. The sender can only cancel a transfer if the funds have not yet been picked up or deposited into the beneficiary’s account. Following is an excerpt from 12 C.F.R. § 1005.34: 12 C.F.R. § 1005.34 Procedures for cancellation and refund of remittance transfers.

  1. Sender right of cancellation and refund. Except as provided in § 1005.36(c), a remittance transfer provider shall comply with the requirements of this section with respect to any oral or written request to cancel a remittance transfer from the sender that is received by the provider no later than 30 minutes after the sender makes payment in connection with the remittance transfer if:
    1. The request to cancel enables the provider to identify the sender's name and address or telephone number and the particular transfer to be cancelled; and
    2. The transferred funds have not been picked up by the designated recipient or deposited into an account of the designated recipient.

Regulation E also has sample/model forms for the error resolution and cancellation notice language – See Model Form A-36 and Model Form A-37 by clicking on the link and scrolling down.

If you have any questions about Regulation E or its requirements, please contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations staff at (202) 435-7700.

Go to Money Transmitter Division web page.

Other Resources

Additional information on Money Transmitters is available from Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) - Department of the Treasury