With the majority of Americans having access to computers either at home, at school, or at work, the instances of identity theft attributed to theft of personal information through computers has increased with this rise in access. Prior to computers being so readily available and accessible, identity theft, while still occurring, was relatively unheard of by most people unless it had actually happened to them or someone they knew. .
Prior to computers, if someone wanted to steal a person's identity, they had to utilize time consuming, and in many cases very unreliable, alternative methods of getting your personal information. Identity thieves would go to government offices and go through reams of public records searching for little bits of information that would be useful for their purpose. Other ways that crooks would use prior to computers, was to search through people's trash or steal their mail and look for information containing important numbers or other information. .
Identity thieves methodically gather individual bits of information until they have put this information together until they have a complete profile of a person and then they can begin to assume that person's financial identity. Once a thief gets a few critical pieces of information they can begin using this information to steal from you. The information they are trying to get are such things as birth dates, driver's license numbers, full names, credit card numbers, bank and brokerage account information, and most importantly, a person's social security number. However, this could be a very time consuming process, and most times they couldn't get enough of the right kind of information to do anything with it.
But then computers came along and the process became tremendously easier. All of a sudden, people could by practically anything they wanted over the internet. Aside from shopping, the internet became one of the premier methods of communicating between people.