The Liberty Alliance Project is stepping up its assault on identity theft with the creation of a new group geared to stymie criminal activity on the Web.

The Liberty Identity Theft Prevention Group, which includes Liberty members RSA Security, Nokia, AOL and American Express, say they will fight ID theft around the world.

The move comes at a time when fraudsters' attempts to pilfer pieces of consumers' identities, including credit card, bank account and Social Security numbers, is rising.

As a result, more consumers are chilling out on using the Web for conducting commerce.

Perpetrators use the information to siphon off consumer funds, or make purchases using the banking data. According to a study from Forrester Research, 9 percent, or an estimated 6 million U.S. online households have experienced identity theft.

While perpetrators are circumventing technology to keep them out of consumers' private information, consumers aren't helping because of their lack of knowledge about how attacks occur.

This is why the group plans to introduce best technological and policy practices and educate consumers and businesses, providing them with the tools they need to make better decisions, said George Goodman, president of the Liberty Alliance management board and a director at Intel.

Goodman said that unlike the Federal Trade Commission, which regularly cracks down on cases of ID theft, Liberty is uniquely positioned because it 44 government, consumer and business groups lending their expertise to one cause: Locking out Web grifters.

''At Liberty, we're in a position of looking at public policy issues and business and policy guidelines that go along with the technological aspects of what we do,'' Goodman said.

It's a tricky proposition. Liberty, which makes standards designed to allow secure Web services (define) over the Internet, regardless of the type of infrastructure, has created guidelines so that consumers can control what personal information they share and with whom they share it.

The problem is that online identities are difficult to manage because most consumers have multiple online user names and passwords for e-mail, instant messenger, or even corporate intranets.

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