Banks: No need to hoard cash amid coronavirus pandemic

Consumers urged to use more easily sanitized forms of payment, guard against theft, fraud and scams

March 26, 2020  As Minnesotans take precautions to protect themselves amid the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), banks are urging them against making unnecessary and large withdrawals of cash. “As always, the safest place for your money is in a bank,” said Joe Witt, President and CEO of the Minnesota Bankers Association (MBA).

Consumers may rest assured their banks are well prepared to stay up and running amid this crisis. “When a crisis occurs, consumers should feel confident their bank is prepared, their deposits are safe, and they will have continued access to their funds.” said Witt. Federal and state regulation requires financial institutions to have continuity plans and testing processes in place which address pandemic response scenarios. Banks have substantial capital and liquidity levels to meet all needs. The Federal Reserve last week issued a statement reassuring Americans that the United States maintains a world-class payments system which will not be disrupted by the pandemic. “Banks have more than enough resources to go around,” he added.

Particularly amid concerns of spreading a virus, consumers should remember that keeping cash in the bank is a prudent defense against contamination. A single dollar bill can be home to as many as 3,000 different bacteria and has changed hands upwards of a thousand times. Instead, consumers are urged, whenever they are able, to use other forms of payment including credit and debit cards, which can be easily sanitized using alcohol-based antibacterial wipes or a wet, soapy cloth.

Lastly, it is important to note that keeping large amounts of cash on-hand can make consumers a target for would-be thieves and scammers. Consumers should be cautious of “investment opportunities,” potential phishing scams and malware that could compromise their financial security. Consumers must be vigilant and report suspicious e-mails or potential scams and fraud.