I saw this article a few months ago in Scientific American - turns out it is also online. One person talks about how he stole someone's identity, step by step.
People think of it as "hacking" - but a lot of times, it is not only hacking. Much of the background you need, if it's from someone you know, can be done in an easier fashion without a computer. It's really more of a matter of social engineering. Why should I spend hours trying hack your computer when I can bring up in casual conversation "What bank do you use" or "were you born in Paterson" and get the answers to things that you need.