How to Avoid a Gold Scam

online gold scams

For most people, the more money they have, the more they want to protect it. If you’ve been saving and investing for decades, you don’t want the money you’ve worked so hard to accumulate to disappear.

That’s especially true if the economy begins to face recession, which it seems is increasingly likely to occur here in the United States. And that’s why many people are starting to take steps to safeguard their savings and investments, including buying precious metals like gold.

But with gold in such high demand nowadays, scammers are coming out of the woodwork trying to part hard-working Americans from their hard-earned wealth. They see demand for gold rising, and they’re looking for people to take advantage of.

The dangers of being caught in a gold scam during times like these can increase dramatically. And the impact of losing money to a gold scam can severely impact you financially, sometimes even irreparably.

If you’re new to buying gold, trying to separate legitimate companies from scammers can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five ways you can help yourself avoid a gold scam.

email spam

1. Unsolicited Communication

If you’ve started to get emails or phone calls from companies or individuals you’ve never heard of, you’re not alone. Millions of people get unsolicited communications, and it’s a top source of complaints.

It’s important to remember, however, that not every communication that seems unsolicited actually is.

Maybe you’ve entered an online sweepstakes to win a car, an appliance, or a new gun. When you entered your contact information, very likely the terms and conditions you accepted allowed the company collecting your information to contact you, or even to sell your information to other partners.

Maybe you entered your information onto a website to receive a free book or free information on a subject you’re interested in. Those terms and conditions also likely required you to consent to being contacted.

Yes, it can be annoying to get spammed with emails and phone calls, especially if you’re not expecting them. But that’s why it’s important to read terms and conditions and not to give away your contact information to every Tom, Dick, and Harry.

The really harmful unsolicited communication, however, can come from people you’ve never interacted with. That Nigerian prince who needs you to wire him $3,000 so that he can unlock his $50 million inheritance and give you a share of it? Yeah, he’s a scammer.

That beautiful young lady who’s lonely and looking for an older man and needs you to send her $1,500 so she can fly to the US to meet you? Yeah, she’s a scammer too.

How about the guy offering to sell you 10 ounces of gold for 10% less than the spot price? Yup, probably a scam.

You may have seen examples of these unsolicited communications coming through your email inbox. And you may be wondering how someone could ever fall for them.

But the reason they keep coming is because people keep falling for them. These scammers can contact 100,000 people and strike out, but that 100,001st nets them the money they’re looking for.

It’s because people keep falling for these scams that scammers keep on trying. And there’s one major characteristic of many of these scams that makes them so hard to resist.

stacks of $100 bills

2. It Sounds too Good to Be True

Many scams offer something that sounds too good to be true. And that’s because very often it is too good to be true.

Scammers appeal to our base emotions: greed, lust, envy. They use those emotions to get their hooks into us. And once the hook is well set, they reel in their prey.

The Nigerian prince scam is one of the best known scams around. It offers the promise of you getting huge amounts of money in return for only putting up a relatively small amount.

Enough people want to get rich quick that they respond to these scammers. Maybe they think that there’s no harm in just talking. But once the scammers get a response, the danger of getting scammed can increase exponentially.

Of course, these obvious scams aren’t the only ones out there. And even when it comes to precious metals like gold, there can be scams that try to take advantage of people’s trust.

One of those scams is that of promising guaranteed returns. It’s not a unique scam, but it’s one that occurs with depressing regularity. Bernie Madoff, for instance, guaranteed his investors at least 11% annual returns.

The thing is that even with bonds that offer a guaranteed yield when they’re issued, there is no such thing as a guaranteed return, as those bonds can default. If someone tells you that they can guarantee you a 10% annual return on an investment, be wary.

And if anyone trying to sell you gold says that they’ll guarantee that your gold gains 5%, 10%, 15%, or more each year, there’s a good chance they’re trying to take advantage of you.

Yes, gold has a good track record during times of economic turmoil. Yes, gold gained 13% last year. And yes, the gold price has risen over 5,000% since 1971.

But there’s no guarantee that gold will gain value in any particular year. And anyone who says they can guarantee that is misleading you.

Another scam targeting gold buyers is that of the home storage gold IRA. A home storage gold IRA purports to be a gold IRA that allows you to buy gold with pre-tax dollars and store that gold at home.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that’s because it is.

The Internal Revenue Code has pretty strict requirements when it comes to IRAs. In particular, 26 U.S.C. 408(a)(2) requires of IRA trustees that: “The trustee is a bank (as defined in subsection (n)) or such other person who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Secretary that the manner in which such other person will administer the trust will be consistent with the requirements of this section.”

So in other words, if you’re not a bank already (and who is?), you’ll have to prove to the IRS that you’re capable of acting as an IRA trustee. And what defines being capable according to “the satisfaction of the Secretary”?

Well, thankfully the IRS provides a list of 10 criteria you’ll have to meet in order to become a non-bank trustee or custodian. They include:

  • Having a net worth of at least $250,000;
  • Ensuring that all employees performing fiduciary duties are bonded to at least $250,000;
  • Demonstrating fiduciary experience or expertise with retirement plans;
  • Showing a high degree of solvency;
  • Demonstrating experience in accounting for a large number of people;
  • Demonstrating experience in handling retirement funds; and
  • Documenting rules of fiduciary conduct.

Those criteria put the ability to start a “home storage gold IRA” out of reach of all but the most experienced and most dedicated investors. IRS even has a list of approved non-bank trustees, with a total of 70 operating throughout the entire country.

So can you become your own gold IRA trustee? Sure. But the hurdles are so high that no one ever tries to do it.

You wouldn’t know that from some of the advertising you’ve probably seen online, which make it seem that a home storage gold IRA is perfectly legitimate and easy to achieve. What really happens, if you try to do it without knowing what you’re getting yourself into, is that you potentially open yourself up to taxes and penalties for violating the laws and regulations surrounding gold IRAs.

3. Low Reputation Sellers

One way to weed out potential scammers is to do your research and see who it is that’s actually contacting you. Is the company reaching out to you a legitimate company with a long history of strong customer service, or is it a fly by night operation looking to take advantage of unsuspecting people?

If you’re in the market to buy gold, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars buying precious metals. So the need to protect yourself from a gold scam can be great.

That’s why it’s important to do your research about the company you’re doing business with. Searching the company’s reviews on sites such as the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs, Trustpilot, TrustLink, etc. can give you insights into any complaints other customers have had, and what the company has done to rectify those problems.

Of course, sometimes we go out looking for a deal and end up getting ourselves into trouble dealing with scammers. This can be especially problematic when dealing with social media and online marketplaces.

Maybe you’re browsing online ads when you see an ad for gold coins or gold bars for a price that’s lower than you’ve seen from reputable sellers, maybe even below the spot price of gold. And maybe you respond, thinking you can get a great deal by taking advantage of someone who doesn’t know what they’ve got.

But what may end up happening instead is that you get taken for a ride, and end up spending thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money on counterfeit gold.

The risk of buying counterfeit gold can be high if you don’t know what you’re doing. And even experienced gold buyers can still fall victim to counterfeits.

That’s why it can be helpful to work with trusted partners who can guarantee the authenticity of their coins. At Goldco, we work with mints around the world to source gold coins directly from the mints, thereby ensuring that we can guarantee our customers the authenticity of their gold coins.

And with over 5,000 5-star reviews from our customers, a buyback guarantee, and a reputation for exemplary customer service, Goldco does what it takes to stand out from the crowd.

money changing hands

4. Scammers Pose as Someone Else

Aside from making sure that you’re dealing with a reputable seller, you need to make sure that the person trying to sell you gold is actually who they say they are. The FBI has recently put out a public service announcement about a scam targeting seniors that urges them to liquidate their assets in order to buy gold and silver.

These scammers impersonated financial institutions and government agencies and often used couriers to take cash from their unsuspecting victims. Now these people have been scammed out of their money and don’t have the gold and silver they thought they were getting.

When it comes to making decisions that impact your financial future and that potentially put your retirement savings at risk, you can’t be too careful. Do your due diligence, research the company trying to sell you gold, and don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t feel comfortable.

5. High Pressure Sales Tactics

High pressure sales tactics can be another indicator that you’re being targeted by a potential gold scam. These sales tactics can take many forms.

Very often a salesman may try to create an unusually short deadline for you to make a decision. “If you don’t buy this in the next two days, it won’t be available ever again.”

That’s an attempt to keep you from doing due diligence, talking to your spouse, thinking things over, or exploring your options. And it can be very easy to fall victim to that kind of pressure.

But the gold market isn’t like that. Gold is traded on exchanges around the world 24/7. It’s one of the most liquid assets there is, with huge amounts of gold trading hands every day.

Yes, there may have been times when the market for gold coins, for instance, has experienced some supply issues due to unusually strong demand. But that doesn’t mean that you have to make a decision immediately.

Gold has existed for thousands of years, and billions of gold coins have been minted over the years. Waiting a few extra days or even a week or two isn’t going to keep you from being able to buy gold, so there’s no reason to give in to high pressure sales tactics.

The Goldco Difference

At Goldco, we value our customers and we work hard to bring them quality gold and silver products and offer them the best customer service in the industry.

Our goal is to help our customers achieve their financial goals through owning precious metals, whether they choose to do that through a gold IRA or silver IRA, or through making direct cash purchases of gold and silver.

Over the years we have helped tens of thousands of customers achieve their dreams of owning gold and silver. And we hope to help tens of thousands more in the coming years.

We know that the gold industry can be full of scammers, companies with questionable ethics, and individuals looking to defraud customers they see as easy marks. And that’s why we hold ourselves to a higher standard, so that each and every one of our customers will be satisfied after doing business with us.

We have over 5,000 5-star reviews from our customers and have a 5-star rating from the Better Business Bureau. If for any reason our customers are less than fully satisfied with their purchase, we try our best to make them happy.

We source gold and silver coins directly from the mints that produce them, ensuring our customers a steady supply of high quality, authentic gold and silver. And we even offer a buyback guarantee, that’s how sure we are that you’re going to be satisfied with your purchase.

Working with trusted, reputable gold companies can go a long way towards minimizing your exposure to gold scams. And if you want to learn more about Goldco’s customer service, our buyback guarantee, or the quality gold and silver products we offer, give us a call today.


Goldco Wealth Protection Guide Book and eBook

Request Your Free Guide

Free Precious Metals Guide

Complete the Form Below

Goldco Wealth Protection Guide Book and eBook

Request Your Free Guide

Free Precious Metals Guide

Complete the Form Below

Ready to protect your retirement savings?

Request Free Kit