After lunching with a friend, Rose Altomare was dismayed to discover that she could not find her wallet. Within an hour of realizing that the wallet was missing, she had contacted all her credit card companies, discovering that $3,000 had already been spent. Most of the credit card companies (MBNA MasterCard, Capital One MasterCard, and American Express) agreed to reverse the fraudulent charges. Scotiabank Visa, however, refused to reverse them, claiming that Altomare was at fault because her PIN code was “too easy to break”.


Altomare had been using a PIN composed of part of her birth date, something that is strictly prohibited according to Scotiabank Visa’s Personal Credit Agreement Companion booklet, which reads: “DO NOT select your birth date, telephone number, license plate, address, or other easy to guess combinations.”


Although Visa advertises a zero liability policy in regards to fraudulent charges, spokesperson Carla Hindman explains: “The cardholder does have an element of responsibility to adhere to the cardholder agreement, which may include provisions around liability where the cardholder may have contributed to the unauthorized use of the card by failing to protect the account.”

Altomare appealed the case with the Scotiabank ombudsman, but the original decision has been upheld.


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