A ‘phishing’ email is one that pretends to be from a company or bank like eBay, PayPal, Santander, halifax etc, and which asks you, (for various reasons), to enter your account data, such as login details. These scams are often supported by fake spoof websites, and victims are tricked into thinking they are logging to a real website. Phishing is a form of identity theft, where fraudsters steal your identity and personal information to gain access to your accounts or commit other crimes using your persona.
The emails can look very convincing so how do you tell if the suspect email is real or a scam. Well you can look recent scams up on this phishing email database.
However if you suspect the email is not true make sure you check directly with the Bank or company involved.