How to Open a California Credit Services Organization [2024 Guide]

Published: Jan 16, 2022

California Credit Services Organization


Do you want to launch a credit services organization in California? To start this business endeavor, you first need to undergo an administrative procedure with state authorities.

You have to obtain a California credit services organization registration from the state Department of Justice. It guarantees that you are a suitable candidate to conduct such activities according to the legal requirements. 

In the sections below, you can find the most important details that you have to know to found a registered credit services organization. 

Meet the California Credit Services Organization Registration Requirements

Under the California Credit Services Act of 1984, if you want to operate as a credit services organization (CSO) in the state, you need to register with the state Department of Justice.

Business Documents 

Before you can apply for your CSO registration, you have to register your business with the Secretary of State. Depending on the type of your business, you may also need to meet various other requirements. You can learn about them at the California Business Portal website. If you want to operate under an assumed name, you need to also register your trade name.

The rest of the documents that you have to fill in and provide include:

  • Principal place of business and additional business locations
  • Primary contact person information
  • Information about owners, principals and managers of the company
  • Disclosure of any judgments, bankruptcies, criminal convictions, litigation or consumer complaint against the applicant, an owner or principal of the company
  • Description of the methods of advertising which will be utilized
  • Technical, physical, administrative safeguards to provide security for any collected and stored personal information
  • Description of the credit services which the company will offer
  • Copies of advertisements, direct mail, ad transcripts, sales scripts, sales presentation materials, recordings of sales and servicing calls, and documents provided to prospective buyers

Provide a Surety Bond

The surety bond requirement is central to the registration process for CSOs in California. Your application will not be considered without it. The purpose of this security criterion is to guarantee your compliance with the California Credit Services Organization Act.

The required amount of the California credit services organization bond is $100,000. You have to submit it to the Secretary of State in the official form that it requires. 

To get bonded, you have to cover a premium, which is a few percent of this amount. It is determined by your surety provider on the basis of your credit score and business financials.

Applicants with a credit score of 700 FICO or above can expect to get bonded at a rate between 0.75% and 1.5% of the total amount of this bond. In general, if your finances are stable, you can expect rates of up to 5%.  

Want to see the exact cost of your California credit services organization bond? Fill in the short form below! 

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Financial Statements

You have to provide your financial statements together with the application form. They have to be either audited, or signed under penalty of perjury by one of the seller's officers, directors, trustees or general or limited partners.

Complete the California Credit Services Organization Registration Application

California Credit Services OrganizationWhen you have ensured that you meet all the requirements outlined above, you can fill in the application form.

You have to send it by mail to:

Department of Justice

Attorney General’s Office

P.O. Box 85266

San Diego, CA 92186-5266 

Together with it, you have to pay the $100 filing fee

Credit services organization certificates of registration expire at the end of the year in which they are issued. To remain registered, you must renew your certificate before January 1st. The Department of Justice does not send out renewal notices. It is your responsibility to keep track of the renewal deadline.


Have more questions about obtaining your California credit services organization registration and bonding? You can reach us at 877.514.5146.

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