It's really simple. Really.
1) The only reason a credit card company will call you, is because you owe them money. They will refer to you by name, and supply you with your' credit card company's name. In addition, you can ask your' credit card company to assign a voice password, which any person from that card company must use for you to know it's them, and you must use, so they know it's you. This is the important part. YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY WILL NOT CALL YOU, IF YOU CAN GET A BETTER INTEREST RATE, ETC. They add those memos in with your' bill. In addition, using Caller ID properly is very helpful.
For example, most Credit Card Companies show up as 866, or 888 numbers, and often show up as Unknown Name. However, the phone number is still there. I'm going to give you the hugest tip ever here.
CREDIT CARD COMPANIES OF VARIOUS KINDS OFTEN USE A 'MASK' NUMBER. ((example: 1-800-555-1212))
But perhaps the best thing, is to call them, and ask them to call you back. Then, when they do, check your' Caller-ID, and write down the number somewhere close to the phone. That way, when you see that number call again, you know, without question, that it actually IS your' credit card company. If it's any other number, tell them that this isn't the number they normally call from, and that you don't trust them enough to give out any personal information, and hang up IMMEDIATELY.
Biggest, and simplest rule of thumb:
1) NEVER give out ANY banking information.
Companies like Paypal, first off, rarely send you e-mails on anything, except for reciepts of purchases, or sales. They also require you to log-in, and then submit an inter-site message, rather then relying on unsafe e-mails, that may end up in the spam folder.
In addition, Paypal addresses you BY NAME OR ACCOUNT NUMBER in any e-mail.
Do not reply to, follow links from, or otherwise do anything but delete any message that begins with the phrase:
Paypal, and pretty much any other company like paypal has an automated computer program which generates these e-mails. These automated programs automatically add in names, or account ID's.
2) You've won the lottery in some foreign country!
According to EVERY country's laws, rules, and regulations, while you can gamble((ie: slot machines, etc)), you are prohibitted from buying, or playing major lotteries((including State lotteries, or in Canada the 6/49 or BC49 or Super 7 are available only for Canadian Residents. The BC49 is only available to residents of British Columbia.)), and even if you DO win, you can't claim it, because you require to produce ID stating you are a valid member of that country.
3) Hi, this is >Insert Random website you visit regularily<. We're doing >Insert lame-*** excuse<, and need access to your account for >Insert secondary lame-*** excuse<.
Hotmail, Yahoo, or pretty much ANY company worth thier' weight in kilobytes will never e-mail you, asking for your' password. EVER.
4) This is my personal favorite trick:
Have two e-mail addresses.
Use one for registering for forums, facebook, myspace, or any place where your' e-mail address is part of your' user profile. There are 'virus' programs, that scan the entire internet, looking for e-mails to scam. Only give out the secondary e-mail to your' friends, or use it to register for Paypal. This way, if you get any e-mails from paypal to the first account, you know it's bogus, and since paypal is legally required to keep your' e-mail private, they are the only ones who know your' secondary e-mail address.
Just a few tips and tricks to help keep yourself safe.