Symantec is fishing for dollars with a new service designed to help companies combat the ongoing epidemic of online identity theft, or "phishing" scams.

The antivirus software giant will this week announce a brand protection service that will use its global network of researchers and its desktop software to help companies identify and thwart online scams that use their names to trick unsuspecting customers.

Phishing scams are online crimes that use spam to direct internet users to websites that are controlled by thieves but designed to look like legitimate e-commerce sites.

Users are asked to provide sensitive information such as a passwords, bank account information or credit card number, often under the guise of updating account information.

The Online Fraud Management Solution is a package of services that Symantec, of Cupertino, California, will market to financial services companies. As part of the service, Symantec will use a global network of probes and decoy e-mail accounts to collect, analyze, and identify new phishing scams targeted at Online Fraud Management customers.

When new scams are identified by Symantec researchers, they will create filters that block the fraudulent messages associated with those scams.

Those filters will be automatically deployed to consumers who use Symantec applications such as Norton AntiSpam and Norton Internet Security.

The company will also notify the Online Fraud Management customer named in the scam emails so it can work with law enforcement to get the phishing website shut down.

Symantec is also providing Online Fraud Management customers with access to a "user-friendly resource centre" with content that will help them educate their customers about internet security threats and with links to products and information to help them assess their computer's security exposure and protect it from attack.

Consulting services to provide assessments and help with implementation are also included in the program.