More than a dozen corporate giants in the retail, telecommunications, financial services, banking and technology industries are joining forces to combat phishing, spoofing and other methods of online identify fraud.

AT&T Wireless, IBM, Best Buy and Fidelity Investments today announced the formation of the Trusted Electronic Communications Forum (TECF), a group that will focus on eliminating phishing's threat to e-mail and e-commerce.

It's mission, the TECF's website explains, is to research and promote "methodologies, technologies, and best practices for mitigating the risks posed by phishing, spoofing, and identity fraud and their negative effects on the Internet landscape".

"Virtual threats have impeded the progress of internet communications and have damaged the trust between enterprises and its customers," it explains. "These threats include spoofing, phishing and identity fraud. These, and other various threats, have decreased corporate effectiveness for leveraging internet and e-business technologies to improve customer satisfaction, decrease costs and enhance top-line revenue growth."

It will also coordinate and communicate its work to outside enterprises, organisations and interested parties "in an effort to elevate corporate electronic activities and business throughout the world", it explained. Companies wishing to join have to pay an annual $2,000 fee and be approved by the board.

Spoofing and phishing are becoming an increasing problem online and are the source of much criticism directed at governments worldwide, especially in the UK.