Phishing is the use of an email that attempts to scam a user into revealing private information. These emails appear to come from legitimate companies and usually direct you to an "official" looking webpage to update your personal information.
A recent article in Consumer Affairs by Mark Huffman, "Why you might fall for a phishing scam" describes some of the problems there are in trying to warn people about phishing scams:
Information is power and, when it comes to the criminal underground, it might as well be gold. Scammers who pick up chunks of information about you can quickly pick your pocket.
An effective phishing scam almost always involves trickery and deception. A message in your email inbox is not what it first appears. ...
The challenge, then, is to find a way to identify these bogus pitches/threats and warn consumers before they make a costly error in judgment.
Two professors at the University of Alabama in Huntsville are studying phishing scams to determine the best way to help protect people from them:
The researchers say your response to a [phishing scam] warning is based on the strength of the authority issuing it. In addition, you have to understand it, remember it, change your attitude and be motivated enough to change your behavior. ...
[P]hishing is not just a problem of technology, though fixes are normally offered only in those terms. Rather, a lot of it involves psychology.
MY ADVICE: Until better warnings are developed, despite the temptation of a promised, highly prized reward, always remember if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. There is very little in life that is free.
Source: Why you might fall for a phishing scam by Mark Huffman via Consumer Affairs