Before anyone pillories me for advocating lax security, let me state that the reason for my giving you this information is simply to get you to THINK about what you see, hear and read in the media, not to give you a false sense of security. If you are on the Internet, you are at risk; if you use the Internet to conduct banking, make purchases, or access your personal information in any way, you are at greater risk. However, you are more at risk for common fraud and larceny than you are for identity theft; that is, a crook might get your credit card or banking information and use it to make purchases or steal the money from your account, but it is highly unlikely that he or she will try to become you.
The calculated odds of your becoming an identity theft victim are 1 in 465: not astronomical, but certainly nothing to lose sleep over.
According to one source in the article, “Fraud Often Mistaken for Identity Theft,” The actual FTC database for its identity theft clearinghouse, where actual cases of someone stealing another person’s identity are reported, recorded 214,905 cases in 2003 and 161,00 in 2002… Figure 100 million people are credit-eligible – you do the math.
I’ll bet that the identity theft victims were engaging in high-risk behavior, surfing the web without antivirus and firewall protection.
By all means, protect yourself with your weapons of choice, but don’t have a panic attack over it.