Does Texas require search firms to be licensed?
Yes. Texas law requires search firms and heirfinders to be licensed or registered with the state. Direct all questions concerning licensing to:
Locator, finder, tracer, heirfinder, collector, investigator, researcher, broker, etc., — regardless of the name you choose to identify your business — you must be licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security Bureau if you are going to charge a fee for locating missing owners in Texas.
You must also have a current sales tax permit.
Does Texas have a limitation on finder fees?
Yes. Section 74.507 of the Texas Property Code states that one may not contract for or receive from the claimant, an amount (including all expenses incurred) in excess of 10% of the value of the abandoned property recovered.
If the property involved is mineral proceeds, the fee may not include a portion of the underlying minerals or any production payment, overriding royalty or similar payment.
Can I obtain an owner list from the Comptroller?
Yes. The Unclaimed Property database files are available for download on the Texas Transparency website (Keyword Search = 'Unclaimed Property'): http://texastransparency.org/Data_Center/Search_Datasets.php
There are three files to download (the years have been split up to enable reasonable download times).
- Download these ZIP compressed files to a computer and then use a program to extract them.
- On this same download page is a 'Data Layout' definition file (this definition is the same for all three files). New users will need to download this file for using the data.
- The data will need to be transferred into another software program for searching/sorting purposes.
- Our office is unable to recommend any specific software or give advice to you on how to use the files.
- The database will be refreshed during the first week of each month.
Make sure you read the information above regarding licensing requirements and finder fee limits.
What if I suspect my client has received the money and is not telling me? How can I find out if the claim has been paid?
The Comptroller’s office will respond to written inquiries from you. You should furnish the following information in your request:
- name and claim number of the owner as it appears on the Comptroller’s unclaimed property listing
- name of claimant
- reporting institution
- amount remitted
How do I handle the claim process for my clients?
To request a claim form, you may contact the Comptroller’s office at (800) 654-3463 or by mail at:
The claim form will be mailed directly to the claimant and must be signed by the claimant. With a Limited Authorization Form on file with our office, you may facilitate the processing of the claim for your client.
A separate authorization form must be submitted with each claim.
Contact our office at (800) 321-2274 or (512) 936-4125 to obtain the authorization forms (individual and business versions), or download and mail it with the claim form.
All documentation requested on the claim instructions must be provided to prove ownership and should be mailed to the address shown on the claim form. If we need additional documentation, the claimant will be contacted by phone or mail.
Once we receive the documentation necessary to prove ownership, the claim will be paid or the property released to the owner. We generally process and pay claims within 2 to 3 months. Claims that involve minerals, stocks, estates or other complex issues may take longer. You may contact our office or use our tool to check the status of your client’s claim.
Collecting your fee is dependent on the agreement between you and your client, and is your responsibility. We only approve payment and send checks directly to the claimant.