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Los Angeles Small Claims Court and Fictitious Business Names

Camila Lopez - Los Angeles Small Claims Court - July 9, 2024

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    One of the most important steps to suing in a Los Angeles Small Claims Court is to find the correct legal name for a business. You will be asked for this information on the initial filing documents for the small claims lawsuit.  

    In this article learn about:

    • What is a Fictitious Business Name

    • Importance of having the right legal name when suing a business in small claims

    • How to find the right legal name for your Los Angeles Small Claims Court Case

    • How to search for a Fictitious Business Name in Los Angeles County

    What is a Fictitious Business Name

    Sometimes an individual or business will operate using a name other than their legal name. This is known as a:

    • "fictitious business name"

    • "FBN"

    • "doing business as"

    • "DBA"

    California law requires sole proprietors, partnerships, LLCs, and corporations that want to do business using a name other than their legal name to register the name in the county where their principal place of business is located.

    Read More: How to sue a company in Los Angeles County Small Claims Court

    What information is displayed on the Fictitious Business Name Statement?

    Businesses in Los Angeles County using a fictitious business name will be required to submit a fictitious business name statement which will list:

    • The owner's name

    • The owner's address

    • Street address of the principal place of business and county

    • You might sue the wrong person or business entity in Los Angeles Small Claims Court.

    • If you win your lawsuit and the person you sued does not pay, you may run into issues collecting the money owed to you.

    • A Los Angeles Small Claims Court may reject your lawsuit when you file it.

    • You need to know who to serve.

    Read More: Complete Guide on how to file a Los Angeles Small Claims Court Lawsuit

    How To Find The Correct Legal Entity Name For LA Small Claims Court

    Look for names used:

    • Check the businesses website and any social media accounts

    • Any contracts or receipts you may have from them

    • Any communications they have sent you

    First, run a search on the California Secretary of State's website. If no names come up, then run a fictitious business name search in the county where the business is located.

    Step 1: Go to the Los Angeles County Recorder's website.

    Enter the name of the business you have been doing business with. Usually, the name can be found on the contract or on a receipt.

    Los Angeles Small Claims Court and Fictitious Busi 1

    Step 2: Locate the "Document Number"

    There may be several businesses with very similar FBN's that come up on the search. Write down the "DOCUMENT NO." for the business you would like to obtain the FBN Statement.

    Los Angeles Small Claims Court and Fictitious Busi 2

    Step 3: Call or Write to the LA County Recorder's Office to obtain a copy of the FBN Statement

    The Los Angeles County Recorder does not publish online the full statement of information for a business using an FBN.

    To request a record in Los Angeles County you can call or request it in writing.

    Los Angeles County Recorder's Phone Number: (800) 201-8999

    You can also request it in writing

    Los Angeles County Recorders Office- Norwalk Branch
    12400 Imperial Hwy
    Room 1201
    Norwalk, CA 90650.

    Once you provide them with Document No, the LA County Recorder will charge you $3.75 to mail the information to you (they don't provide it over the phone). It will take 7 business days to receive the FBN statement.


    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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