Be Wary of Traveling Gold and Silver Buyers

Recently, someone solicited our opinion about a specific traveling gold and silver buying group that is advertising their activity in the north Georgia area.

Without actual experience with this traveling buying group, we cannot provide specific commentary about their actions. But, among the numismatic community, we’ve heard sad stories about traveling buyers for quite awhile. 

As noted in the links below, there are news reports and many angry comments across the web based on other people’s experiences. 

BBB warns Treasure Hunter Roadshow could be pirates for your possessions
CoinForum Topic: International Coin Collectors Association
SCANDALOUS: Caveat Emptor at Antique Treasure Hunter’s Roadshow
The Investigators: Gold Diggers

Of all the various reports about traveling gold and silver buyers in the consumer media, the best we’ve seen is by Jerry Jordan, managing editor of The Examiner in Beaumont TX. (We first linked to his main article on June 14, 2010 in Caution: Gold and Gold Buyers.)  

His article of January 2010 asks the question, “Treasure hunters or gold diggers?” Mr. Jordan teamed with a local Beaumont coin enthusiast, Mike Fuljenz, to research the traveling buyers’ promises. His experiences are detailed in the article. 

Since that time, both Mr. Jordan and Mr. Fuljenz have won national awards for their efforts, which are ongoing, to bring attention to the less than stellar practices of the traveling buyers. 

In addition, Mr. Jordan’s experience contributed to changes in the FTC’s advisory on gold

On the ANA’s web site, the American Numismatic Association cautions, “The ANA urges everyone to be wary of cold-call solicitations or mobile offices, set up in temporary locations such as motels, offering instant cash for gold and silver coins. Be patient, be informed and don’t let anyone pressure you into making impulsive decisions.” Following their advice, they provide a checklist for buying and selling gold and silver.

At our monthly coin show, we provide a venue with many experienced coin dealers who buy, sell and trade in coins, currency and precious metals. Some of these coin dealers have store front shops, some have online shops and others set up at various coin shows around the area while holding a different “day” job. 

There are many differences between a coin show and what these traveling buyers do, but two are key. First, the coin dealers at a coin show offer coins, currency and bullion for sale to numismatists and investors visiting the show. 

Another big difference between a coin show and the traveling buyers:  each dealer is in competition with every other dealer in the room. Even though the dealers have varied specialties and interests, there is enough overlap to make each feel the pressure of competition. 

That competition is perhaps the most important differentiator. Our dealers examine valuables and offer free, verbal appraisals — that are good during the show — for the items in which they are interested. 

With all of the competition on the bourse, each dealer will make the best offer they can while maintaining the profit margin they need for their business. People can obtain several appraisals — all in one place — and decide if they want to sell at the show or keep their collectibles for another opportunity later. 

Based on the news reports and the commentary around the internet, traveling gold and silver buyers prey upon the uninformed and the desperate.  

The saying “the best defense is a good offense” applies when you go to sell your valuables. Make sure you learn as much as you can about your treasures and take the time to obtain quotes from multiple sources. Do your homework and don’t let anyone pressure you into selling before you are ready.