Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) has introduced legislation that would protect the rights of customers to pay for things in cash.
“More and more retailers are shifting to cashless transactions in other parts of the country for various reasons,” said Representative Ackerman. “From a consumer perspective, this could have a negative impact on working class customers, senior citizens and college students who don’t have credit cards.”
The legislation (2019-H 5116) would make it unlawful for any retail establishment offering goods or services for sale to discriminate against a prospective customer by requiring the use of credit for purchase of goods or services.
“The U.S. dollar is legal tender and should be accepted at any retail establishment in Rhode Island,” said Representative Ackerman. “Others might not want to share their purchasing habits, which can be tracked by using a credit card and used to build a profile on a consumer’s spending tendencies. Cash transactions also make identity theft more difficult.”
According to a survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, about 8 percent of households have no bank account and only 75 percent of American adults have credit cards.
“Given the age requirements for credit cards, a cashless policy creates a type of age discrimination that we should not be tolerating,” said Representative Ackerman. “Businesses still have an obligation to be accessible to everybody — not just those who have a credit card.”
The bill, which is cosponsored by Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), Representatives Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) and Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), has been referred to the House Corporations Committee.