As a rule, regardless of the circumstances or your line of work, it's a bad idea to give credit card information to someone who calls you. While this seems like common sense, plenty of otherwise sensible people have become victims of credit card fraud through doing just that.
Today, though, that rule hits especially close to home. The California Contractors State License Board has issued an Industry Alert to any licensees who will be renewing existing licenses, as well as anyone who will be applying for a new license.
Scammers are targeting these groups with phone calls claiming to be from the CSLB. They may request that you pay to receive continuing education credits, schedule an exam, or renew a license. Not surprisingly, once they have your credit card information, they will make fraudulent purchases or auction off your information to criminal third parties.
CSLB, and indeed, the vast majority of legitimate private and public organizations, will not request credit card information during an unsolicited phone call. Any time you are contacted with a request for billing information, it is imperative that you first confirm the request with the original party by contacting them through a publically listed channel.
Contractors and other licensed professionals are especially suceptible to scams like this because much of their personal information is often a matter of public record and listed online. In this case, even applicants are listed on the CSLB site. To their credit, CSLB says that they are considering delisting applicants in an effort to curb this fraud.
Regardless, following common sense best practices regarding requests for billing information should be just as important as practical policies concerning the other elements of your practice.
For more information, please see the CSLB Industry Bulletin.