Cash and cashless: What does the US law say?

The claim: It is unlawful for a business to refuse cash payments from customers; the business can be reported and reprimanded.

A growing number of businesses have gone cashless amid the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing forth criticism and false claims online regarding the legality of digital transactions.

In response to the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance encouraging retailers to use touchless payment options, but not everyone is happy about the recent rise of electronic payments. Some social media users claim it is illegal to refuse cash payments.

A social media post claims that if cash is turned down by a store, then the debt is recognized as paid.

"Wal-Mart just told me they are not accepting cash. Asked for manager who told me same thing. Made her get her boss and a cop," reads another Facebook post from Aug. 8. "Showed them all a letter from a lawyer which says - not accepting ‘legal tender’ in the United States - the debt is considered paid. No legal recourse."

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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