I had my first experience with identity theft this past month. My PayPal account was compromised and someone was helping themselves to my money. What was annoying and a little frightening was that that account was tied to our debit card and so was actually taking our money out of checking. I found out when I checked my checking account to see if my economic stimulus package had bee deposited yet.
The thing that was very frightening was that I received no notice from PayPal that this was happening (not PayPal's fault by the way). Either on purpose, or by unhappy coincidence, @paypal.com had been added to my blocked senders list in my hotmail account. This meant that any message from PayPal was automatically deleted. I still don't know if my hotmail account was compromised as well. Of course, I have since changed both passwords.
Fortunately, no other information was changed and I was able to regain control of my account quickly. PayPal determined in about 5 days that the charges were fraudulent and refunded my money.
morals: do not use a debit card on line, do not have the same password to your email account as to PayPal.