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The illegal practice of attempting to steal an identity by setting up a website and encouraging people to input credit card or other personal information. Phishing often purports to present a legitimate web business and asks the "customer" to give personal information in order to receive fictitious products. Alternatively, phishing may involve a criminal sending out e-mail purporting to be from a bank or credit card company asking for information as part of an "urgent" request. Phishers then steal the identity directly or sell to another party for illegal purposes.
Farlex Financial Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Phishing is one way that identity thieves use the Internet to retrieve your personal information, such as passwords and account numbers.

The thieves' techniques include sending hoax emails claiming to originate from legitimate businesses and establishing phony websites designed to capture your personal information.

For example, you may receive an urgent email claiming to come from your bank and directing you to a website where you're asked to update or verify your account number or password. By responding you give identity thieves an opportunity to steal your confidential information.

Phishing is difficult to detect because the fraudulent emails and websites are often indistinguishable from legitimate ones and the perpetrators change identities regularly.

Dictionary of Financial Terms. Copyright © 2008 Lightbulb Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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As people expect to hear from HM Revenue and Customs about recently filed tax returns, crooks are sending out a new wave of "phising" emails, hoping to trick people into giving out bank account or credit card details.
Police analysts have highlighted an increase in crimes such as "phising" - using fake but credible e-mails and websites to deceive recipients into divulging personal data - after incidents mushroomed from 21 to 2,000 in 12 months.
Phising, also known as carding, brand spoofing or identity theft, is generally a scam whereby the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking e-mails, often appearing to come from some of the web's biggest sites, in an effort to "phish" for personal and financial information from the recipient.
The first example of phising took place in 1987 but it was another nine years before the word was first recorded.