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The term phishing defines a criminal activity which uses techniques of social engineering (manipulating users to obtain confidential information). Its aim is to gain access to sensitive data such as bank account numbers, PIN codes, etc.

Access is usually achieved by sending email masquerading as a trustworthy person or business (e.g., financial institution, insurance company). The email can look very genuine, and will contain graphics and content which may have originally come from the source it is impersonating. You will be asked to enter, under various pretenses (data verification, financial operations), some of your personal data – bank account numbers or usernames and passwords. All such data, if submitted, can easily be stolen and misused.

Banks, insurance companies, and other legitimate companies will never request usernames and passwords in an unsolicited email.