– Borough police are investigating complaints of credit card breaches and offering tips on how consumers can safeguard themselves.

"We've had several (complaints)," Officer Donald Thacher said Friday.

Lt. Sean LeStrange said the department receives a few complaints a month from private citizens.

He also said police distribute on a regular basis informational packets on how to avoid becoming a fraud victim.

One of the recent victims was Jeff Hiller, owner of Trackside Grill on Main Street.

The business owner said he was notified by Honesdale National Bank about suspicious purchases made with his debit card numbers. His debit card was charged $724 at a Walmart and Walgreens Pharmacy in South Carolina.

Hiller said the bank knew he wasn't the one making the purchases.

"It's just strange," he added.

Hiller filled out paperwork at the bank and had his money back in two hours.

"They handled it really well," he said.

Hiller said he doesn't know how his card became compromised.

"It's hard to understand," he said, noting there are many ways information could be stolen, particularly on the Internet.

Officials at Honesdale National Bank, The Dime Bank and Wayne Bank could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Protecting against theft

Victims of identity theft can take several steps, including:

• Placing a fraud alert on their credit reports and review the reports. Fraud alerts can help prevent a thief from opening any more accounts in the victims' name

• Close the accounts that have, or may have been, tampered with or opened fraudulently

• File a report with police where the identity theft took place and with the Federal Trade Commission.

Identity thieves obtain personal information in numerous ways, including:

• They get information from businesses and institutions by stealing records or information while on the job; bribing an employee with access to records; hacking records; and conning information out of employees

• They may steal mail, including bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks and tax information

• They may rummage through personal trash or that of businesses, or public trash dumps

• They may steal personal information through email or phone by posing as legitimate companies, then contact potential victims and tell them they have a problem with their accounts

Identity thieves use personal information in many ways, including:

• They may call the victim's credit card issuer to change the billing address on the account. The impostor can then run up charges on the account and it could take a while for the victim to discover the theft

• They may open new credit card accounts in the victim's name and not pay the bill

• They may establish phone or wireless service in the victim's name, or open a bank account and write bad checks

For more information visit www.ic3.gov, www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or www.fbi.gov.