A White Rock senior held liable for more than $4,000 in charges on her credit card after her wallet was stolen says her bank didn’t do enough to protect her.  

Reta Herman, 91, was robbed while trying to help strangers in the Surrey Walmart parking lot. 

A couple of scam artists posing as lost tourists spread a large map over her purse while pretending to look for directions.  She noticed her wallet was missing when she got home.

Herman immediately called police and reported her credit card missing to the Bank of Montreal.

But she was shocked to see thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent charges on her MasterCard bill when it arrived, including four cash withdrawals of $500 each.

At first BMO told Herman not to worry, then it claimed she must have given the crooks her Personal Identification Number, or written the number down in her wallet, therefore she was on the hook for the charges.

“I felt insulted,” she said.  "I thought, you know, everybody's innocent till proven guilty.  They're trying to say I'm guilty and I have to prove that I'm innocent.  And that's not fair."

Herman was so upset that she had trouble sleeping or eating, but BMO insisted the senior was liable for the charges because she somehow compromised her personal information. 

The bank says its MasterCards, which use Chip technology, provide greater security for customers because the encrypted microchips are difficult to counterfeit, and customers must enter their PIN for all transactions. 

CTV’s Steele on Your Side contacted the Bank of Montreal about Herman’s case.  Officials refused to do an interview, or explain how thieves could use the card without the PIN.  But within 24 hours, the charges were reversed.

In an email to CTV News, Laurie Grant of Bank of Montreal said: “We appreciate the fact that Steele on Your Side brought this incident to our attention.”

“We always see these issues as a way of acknowledging how we can ‘do better’ and we will use this case as a coaching opportunity for our staff.”

Herman is thrilled, and says even RCMP are now taking a second look at her case.

“It’s a big relief,” she said.

When it comes to stolen or lost MasterCards, you will not be liable if:

  • You use reasonable care to keep your card safe from loss, theft or misuse
  • Keep your PIN confidential and separate from your card
  • Notify the bank within 24 hours of the loss or theft of the card
  • There has not been more than one unauthorized use of your card in the past 12 months

Herman maintains she followed all of the MasterCard rules and still doesn’t understand why the bank would make her responsible for the fraudulent transactions. 

“I always had faith in MasterCard because of their advertised guarantee that if all requirements were met in regard to using the card, I would be protected,” she said.  “I guess that’s just not the case.”