Have no doubt about it - phishing is a scam, although one of the newer ones, that tries to lure your hard earned money right out of your wallet. And technically it's a well-done scam, that makes use of peoples trust in legal enterprises.
The essence of phishing is that the "robbers" make use of false homepages, that look just like a trustworthy homepage complete with logos and everything. The same goes for the spam mails, that are used to lure the potential victims to the false homepage.
Unfortunately there will always be criminals, who will try to get what is rightfully yours. It has been that way ever since mankind started putting values on things and increasingly since the introduction of payment for goods and services.
So please be careful when you suddenly receive e-mails that asks you to reconfirm sensitive information. You could end up having your account emptied! And the best way to avoid phishing is obviously to avoid the spam mails, which lure you to the false homepages.
Phishing is now considered so big a threat, that big players like Microsoft, Ebay, Visa, and WholeSecurity has announced a united effort to battle the ever increasing threat.
A recent survey shows a great increase in phishing-attacks and spam mails. From one month alone, the number of attacks increased 42 percent! The survey also showed that the preferred targets are financial institutions such as banks, credit card companies, etc.
But what are the purpose of luring the unsuspecting victims to false homepages? Simple: To steal their money by getting them to reveal creditcard information or other financial information that may help them. In many cases this kind of scam is so well done, that the browser is tricked into showing the correct and expected web-address in the subject line. In other words, it is easy to be fooled by this kind of scam.