Symantec is fishing for dollars with a new service to help companies beat the flood of online identity theft, or "phishing", scams.

The anti-virus giant will use its global network of researchers and desktop software to help companies identify and thwart online scams that use their names to trick unsuspecting customers.

Phishing scams use spam to direct Internet users to websites controlled by thieves but designed to look like legitimate e-commerce sites. Users are asked to provide sensitive information such as a password, bank account or credit card number, often under the guise of updating account information.

The Online Fraud Management Solution is being aimed at financial services companies. As part of it, Symantec will use probes and decoy e-mail accounts to collect, analyse and identify new phishing scams targeted at customers.

When new scams are identified by Symantec researchers, they will create filters that block the fraudulent messages. Those filters will be automatically deployed to consumers who use Symantec applications such as Norton AntiSpam and Norton Internet Security, Symantec said.

The company will also notify the Online Fraud Management customer named in the scam e-mails so it can work with law enforcement to get the phishing website shut down. The service also comes with a "user-friendly resource center" that will educate customers about Internet security threats, Symantec said. Consulting services to provide assessments and help with implementation are also included.

Online fraud and identity theft scams are a growing problem. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, an industry association made up of representatives from the high-technology industry and law enforcement, identified more than 1,400 unique phishing attacks in June, the most recent month for which statistics are available. Incidents of such attacks are growing at an average monthly rate of more than 50 percent, the group found.