Their defrauded bank accounts: BN reimburses, BMO refuses

A couple from Mascouche whose accounts in two different banks were defrauded the same day by unauthorized Interac transfers were quickly reimbursed by the National Bank, while BMO, after three months, has just indicated its refusal to do so.

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On August 17, Nicole and Jacques Aubin experienced particularly stressful moments when they noticed that fraudulent transactions had been made in their joint BMO bank account and in Mrs. Aubin’s account at the BN: $3,000 disappeared in each of the accounts.

“We had heart spasms, my pressure went up,” says the 69-year-old lady, a window dresser at Jean Coutu.

This money was their savings in case of unforeseen events, and it was also to be used to purchase household appliances, when they are going to move into a dwelling that does not include them.

The Aubins quickly contacted the banking institutions and went to the branch to fill out the forms necessary to report the fraud.

They also went to an Apple store to get rid of the malware. The same day of the fraud, the computer giant had also published security updates due to a major flaw in its products.

Nicole and Jacques Aubin

On August 24, a week after the unfortunate events, Nicole Aubin received a refund from the BN. The same day, she contacted BMO by e-mail to inquire about the progress of her file. She was informed that the investigation was continuing.

Afterwards, the silence lasted for several weeks. Further emails were sent to BMO on October 10 and 27. Exasperated, the Aubins made an appointment for November 2 at the St-Hubert Street branch, where they have been customers since 1978.

“They asked us to redo a report. And on November 23, we received a call. They told us they weren’t refunding us, it was our fault! As if we were caves and had given permission to go into our accounts! Let’s see! “, indignant Ms. Aubin.

« And the bank representative told me that it was no use continuing my efforts, that I would not win the case, » says Jacques Aubin, 69, retired from Canada Post.

The couple say they were never asked to file a complaint with the police.

The Journal has reported other similar cases at BMO in recent days and has received several reports from defrauded customers who are having difficulty obtaining satisfaction.

This week, BMO announced a sharp increase in net income for 2021, rising from $7.7 billion to $15.5 billion.

Towards an automatic protective regime

Faced with the increase in cases of Internet fraud, lawyer Marc Lemieux, a specialist in banking law, which he also teaches at McGill University, suggests that it is time to evaluate the idea of ​​a automatic consumer protection system, somewhat like the Société d’assurance automobile du Québec.

The complaints process in the event of fraud appears to him to be clearly to the disadvantage of clients. BMO’s is called Here for you, but all the cases we have documented in recent days show long procedures, unanswered emails and calls and unsuccessful visits to branches.

“It’s a lot of anguish on a human and financial level. It causes more than inconvenience, it is suffering, ”raises the lawyer.

While waiting, the customer is bound by the bank’s contract. That of the BMO, and this is not unique, extends over dozens of pages. This makes it less accessible to the average reader. Clauses may oblige the customer not to use the same password twice in his list, otherwise he will not be compensated in the event of fraud.

“The contracts are drafted by the bank and it does not necessarily have the client’s interest in mind. It serves its interests,” notes Mr. Lemieux, who finds it deplorable to place a security burden on clients that they are unaware of. He also points out that credit companies like Visa and MasterCard behave differently by applying the concept of zero liability, which protects customers at all times against unauthorized use of their card.

Customers dissatisfied with their bank’s response can turn to the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI). However, all the decisions rendered since June on complaints relating to fraud at BMO give reason to the bank to refuse reimbursement to its customers. OBSI simply reads the contracts and applicable laws and makes its decisions based on them.

Faced with the lack of justice that consumers face in situations of Internet fraud and because it would be in the public interest to maintain trust in banks and cyberspace, Me Lemieux invites governments to create a roundtable with the actors concerned to find solutions. And perhaps create a « no fault », as for road accidents.

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