About Becoming An Investigator

How do I register to become an Investigator?

Please send an email to UPDInvestigators@sco.ca.gov and provide the following requirements:

  1. Your business contact information.
    1. First and last name if registering as an individual; or
    2. Name of company if registering as a business.
  2. Physical and mailing address for your business.
  3. A list of employees authorized to represent your business in contacting our office or the public.
    1. First and last name
    2. Copy of government-issued ID
    3. Phone number(s)
    4. Email address(s)
  4. A copy of a document showing the tax identification number to be used for claim payment.
    1. Copy of your Social Security card for individuals; or
    2. Copy of your IRS Assignment of Employer Identification Number confirmation letter for businesses with a Federal Employer Identification Number.
  5. A copy of your Private Investigator’s License (if applicable)

When submitting your registration, please send all information as a PDF, Word document, or input the information in the body of an email. We are not able to accept Google Docs.

Once we have completed your registration, we will send you an email confirming your information. Please note that the State Controller’s Office does not issue Investigator numbers or an official letter that identifies you as an Investigator with the State Controller’s Office.

If you have any further questions, please send an email to UPDInvestigators@sco.ca.gov.

Am I required to be licensed?

No. California Law does not require you to be licensed.

However, you should check with your local city, county, and/or the Bureau of Investigative and Security Services (California Department of Consumer Affairs) for licensing requirements for related services. If you reside outside of California, you should check with your local city, county, and/or state to find out what licensing requirements to which you may be subject.

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Do I need to notify you that I am an Investigator or run an Investigator Service?

We strongly encourage you to contact the State Controller’s Office if you are an Investigator or run an Investigator service. When you notify us we will send you a copy of our Standard Investigator Agreement  and filing instructions. We highly recommend you use of the Standard Investigator Agreement when conducting business since the agreement is in compliance with California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1582.  Using our materials and following our instructions for investigator claims will help ensure that your claims are processed in a timely manner.

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Do I need to notify you when I hire or terminate the employment of staff?

Yes. We ask that you notify us of all changes to your business. This includes notifying us of staffing changes and providing us with the identification and contact information of all persons authorized to represent your business.

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Do I need to register my business with the California Secretary of State?

It depends on the type of business entity.

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Does the State Controller's Office provide training on becoming an Investigator?

No. The State Controller's Office does not offer training for Investigators.
The Investigator Handbook has been prepared by our office for investigators to use as a reference.

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Will I receive a letter that identifies me as an "official Investigator" with the California State Controller's Office?

No. We retain your Investigator information in our records to allow us to better serve you and your claimant(s). You will receive an email from us confirming that we received and processed your information.

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Will the California State Controller's Office issue me an “Investigator number”?

No. The California State Controller's Office does not issue “Investigator numbers”.

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Are there restrictions on what I can charge a client?

Yes. It is against the law for Investigators to charge a fee greater than 10% of the value of the property that is returned to the owner or their heirs. (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1582) This fee includes all services connected to returning property to an owner. There is no fee restriction for a County Probated Estate claim. For more information, refer to the Estates of Deceased Persons Escheated Funds from County Treasurer Offices in our Investigator Handbook.


Under the California Code of Civil Procedure (Title 10, Chapter 7, Section 1582) an Investigator may not enter into a contract with a property owner to locate, deliver, recover, or assist in the recovery of property that is pending transfer from the business to the State Controller’s Office after the business has identified the property in its Notice Report filed with SCO.  An Investigator may only legally enter into contract to assist a property owner after the property is transferred to SCO. Any executed agreement with a property owner to assist in recovering property between the date the Notice Report is filed and the date SCO receives the funds is invalid.


An agreement is invalid if the agreement requires the owner to pay a fee or compensation prior to the approval of the claim and payment of the recovered property to the owner by the State Controller.

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Can I create my own Investigator Agreement?

We strongly recommend you use our Standard Investigator Agreement. This agreement is designed to meet all legal requirements. If you create your own agreement, it must meet all of the same legal requirements.

We are not able to process claim packages for Investigators whose Investigator Agreements are not in compliance with the law. Non-standardized agreements cause delays in the evaluation process because we must ensure the non-standardized agreement conforms with the California Code of Civil Procedure.

If your Investigator Agreement does not meet all legal requirements as determined in the law, your Investigator Agreement will be rejected and the claim will be pended for an updated Investigator Agreement.

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Does the Standard Investigator Agreement form need to be notarized?

No. The Standard Investigator Agreement is not required to be notarized. We require valid signed documentation that your client has agreed to allow you to submit their claim on their behalf.

However, Claim Affirmation Forms may need to be notarized depending on the value and type of property.

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