An article in the March 31, 2003 Detroit Free Press discussed Identity Theft. Many people are paranoid about e-commerce, online shopping and online banking or they fear filing their taxes electronically because they are concerned that there identity (social security number, credit card numbers, etc.) could be hacked and stolen.

Identity theft is soaring, thanks to high-tech tools, light penalties and widespread publicity.

Crooks are stealing honest people's personal information and racking up credit card bills in their names, opening dozens of new accounts and ruining in days sterling credit ratings that took years to build.
The article goes on to say though that most identity theft is still done low tech- digging through trash for old credit card statements, stealing wallets and purses, etc.

Yet studies show that in cases where victims knew how their identity was stolen, the No. 1 cause was having their purse or wallet swiped. Experts say in the rest of the cases, the majority of crooks get their information through a job or an insider connection. Buying or selling items online falls far down the list.
Of course, there are still the BIG hacks that make the news- 5 million credit cards stolen, AOL's customer data hacked. I think the big difference is that when someone goes through the trash or steals a wallet they get ONE identity. When someone figures out how to hack a major retailer's database they get thousands or millions of identities to steal- credit card numbers, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, etc.

Here is the full article: Free Press