There is a new shortage happening nationwide amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — coins.
Because of business shutdowns and social distancing, people have been spending cash at stores or restaurants at record low levels, the Federal Trade Commission advised in an Aug. 4 consumer alert.
Adding to the shortage, the U.S. Mint has slowed down coin production for a few months to keep employees safe from COVID-19, the alert said.
“Now, some businesses are running low on coins and not offering change,” the alert stated.
Here are some tips, provided by Sachit Gali of the FTC, to avoid losing money next time you go out shopping:
If you plan on paying in cash when shopping, bring coins from home so you can pay in exact change, if you can.
If you’re short on change and the store doesn’t have it, ask the cashier if they can offer you store credit or can donate the leftover to charity, which more stores are starting to offer. Or, pay using a credit or debit card — or by check, if accepted by the store.
If a store doesn’t offer change, it should clearly state or display this policy. If you find a store that’s intentionally misleading or deceptive about this policy, report it to your state attorney general.
To learn more about consumer protection issues related to COVID-19, check out ftc.gov/coronavirus for the latest updates.