4 signs your identity was stolen

6:36 AM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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(Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images)

(WXIA) -- It's becoming an all-too-common story: data breaches at major retailers, putting customers' personal information at risk.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 16.6 million people became victims of identity theft in 2012, costing consumers around $24 billion in losses.

Nine out of 10 people don't check their financial statements, which makes it hard for them to determine if their identities are stolen.

Here are some key warning signs to determine if you've become a victim of identity theft:

1. Bills for goods and services you didn't purchase appear on your credit or debit card statements. Don't ignore small charges. Crooks who buy stolen account numbers sometimes do a test with a small purchase.

2. Statements show up for an unknown credit card account. With the right information, a thief can apply for a credit card in your name. They often close the account before they can be caught.

3. A new credit card or store charge card you didn't apply for appears in the mail. An identity thief may have applied for that card. Don't assume it's a mistake; contact the company right away.

4. You receive collection notices or calls for debts you don't owe. Sometimes this is an honest mistake, but it could also be an identity thief using your personal information to buy things and not paying the bill.

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