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Gold IRA Scams


Precious metals investments, especially gold, have risen in popularity over the years because of the exclusive benefits that they offer investors. Among these benefits is their ability to hedge against inflation and deflation. In addition, they provide diversification benefits. Gold can help investors diversify their investment portfolio effectively.

Sadly, the popularity of gold and other precious metal products has also led to a rise in precious metals investment scams.

Hence, as you prepare to make your first precious metal or gold IRA investment, you must adequately educate yourself about the scams prevalent in the gold investment industry today. In this article, we want to show you common gold scams, how to detect them, and how to avoid them.


What Are Gold IRA Scams?

Gold is a valuable and highly sought-after asset. In addition, these investments are very liquid. Gold investors can sell and buy them anytime without additional fees or hindrances. The investment assets do not fluctuate like the stock market or the economy.

You can buy physical gold for inclusion in your retirement portfolio through a gold or silver IRA. You can also purchase physical gold outside gold IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts). However, you must know the many risks associated with buying physical gold. The gold IRA industry has many shady companies that would want to scam you if you are not careful enough.

We advise our readers to do extensive research to find the various suitable investment types for them and available for purchase within and outside an IRA. This step is an excellent way to avoid getting duped by gold scammers in the precious metals market.

Common Gold IRA Scams

Gold IRA Scams Counterfeiting

When you open a gold IRA and buy any precious metal asset, the IRS rule guiding gold IRA accounts does not allow you to hold or store the metal outside a third-party secure storage depository. Dubious dealers capitalize on this rule to sell counterfeit gold to unsuspecting investors.

Usually, the companies your buy gold from in a gold IRA would move your metals for deposition to a secure gold depository. You will not usually see your products until you go to the gold depository where your metals are shipped.

Hence, you must do your due diligence to research trustworthy gold sellers to buy your precious metal investments before investing. Usually, reliable gold companies work with reputable gold IRA depositories to provide storage services for their clients.

This article will show you the top five trustworthy gold IRA dealers in the United States for your precious metal purchases. Our top gold companies work with the best gold IRA depositories in the United States. We also recommend visiting your chosen precious metal storage facilities to see your tangible gold holdings from time to time.

Further Warnings on Counterfeit Gold Scams

We do not recommend buying gold IRA assets from a random seller on online retail platforms like Craigslist and eBay because you may get fake gold coins and lose your money. To avoid this common scam, you must do business with only reputable gold sellers.

Seeing people selling fake coins and bars online is not unpopular. Usually, these products are just gold-plated coins and bars with an external look of solid gold. Meanwhile, the filler metals are lead, copper, and tungsten. Even if you are skilled in identifying fake gold coins and bars by handling them, you cannot physically handle these products until the sale is completed and you have received them. Hence, your skill in identifying fakes by physical handling may not save you now.

Sometimes, the coins and bars on online eCommerce platforms may be made of pure gold, but their markings will be fake. Usually, the fake marking on the pure gold coin will affect the coin's value. Furthermore, a scammer can ship gold products that do not match the image you saw online to you.

When you buy counterfeit coins, you may not know until you try to liquidate the product for cash.

Coin Grading Free Silver Offer

Gold Rush Fraud or Overpayment Scam

Usually, the class of investors that fall into this gold IRA scam are people who want to make money instantly. This scam is majorly directed toward investors who own pieces of gold jewelry and are looking to sell them. The first reported Gold Rush Fraud happened 11 years ago (2012) in South Africa.

Here is how the scam works: if you want to sell your gold jewelry, usually, the scammer will give you an offer that seems too good to be true. Then, the fraudster buyer will issue a fake check higher than the price of the gold jewelry to you.

Then the buyer will ask you to pay the money into your account and resend the change. The check will bounce, leaving you with your money and jewelry loss.

Ponzi Schemes or Non-Delivery Scams

Usually, in this kind of scam, the fraudster will promise to pay you back for a particular gold investment asset because the scammer did not deliver the product you paid for. Such scammers usually pay old investors with the funds they collect from new investors. These scammers do not make profits from legal business or financial trading activities. The network they form by collecting funds from one person to pay another makes it look like a Ponzi scheme pyramid.

This gold scam is difficult to spot because the signs are not typically obvious. One effective way to identify them is by asking questions about when the dealer started selling, its business registration details, and if the business has had previous complaints.

Another way of spotting this scam is numerous complaints of delayed shipping time from more than one buyer. You should know that it is not out of place to have delayed shipping sometimes. However, there is a reasonable amount of shipping time that once exceeded, and your products have not gotten to you yet, you should request a refund immediately.

Suppose you open a gold IRA through any of our top five gold IRA firms, and you buy precious metal assets. In that case, the company will ship your products to an IRS-approved gold depository in compliance with the IRS rules regarding gold or silver IRAs. Our recommended companies will move your purchased products to your chosen secure storage gold depositories without delays.

Rare Coin Valuation Scams

The Rare Coin Valuation scammers target coin collectors that are naive and inexperienced. Usually, scammers call these amateur coin collectors to inform them that they have rare collectible coins worth thousands of dollars for sale.

These scammers will email these coin collectors about a fantastic find and ask if they would love the products. If the scammers can persuade the inexperienced collectors and the collectors agree to buy, the scammers will send some images of the rare coins. Then they will ask the collectors to send money through Western Union or MoneyGram wire transfer.

Once the buyer sends the money through Western Union or MoneyGram wire transfer, the transaction is irreversible. Do not fall for anyone asking you to buy rare coins for ridiculously low prices and asking you to make the transfers through MoneyGram or Western Union wire transfer. It might just be a scam.  

One way to avoid this scam is to stick to bullion investments. Gold bullion bars and silver coins products are traded almost alongside the spot market price. Hence, there will be little or no chance for a scammer to dupe you by selling products at a very low price.

Affiliation Scams

Scammers can claim affiliations with certain groups, for instance, religious organizations or other NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), to gain the trust of unsuspecting investors.

Investors who are believers and lovers of these organizations will easily trust these scammers, and it will become easy to exploit and defraud them.

Sometimes, these scammers may not even claim affiliations with these groups. Still, they can target investors from these groups so hard that people will naturally think they have collaborations with these organizations.

To avoid affiliation scams, you must go beyond buying gold from dealers because they claim or look affiliated with specific organizations. You must do your best to conduct unbiased research about the gold dealers from which you intend to buy your investment.

Gold IRA Storage Scams

When you buy gold products outside a precious metals IRA, the precious metals dealer you purchase from will ship your metals to your home or desired physical location. When you receive your precious metal products, you will be responsible for protecting your asset in either a personal safe or a safe deposit box.

While you can buy gold and keep them in your home, we do not recommend the practice because it can be vulnerable to loss or theft. In addition, you will not enjoy the tax benefits of buying precious metals within an IRA.

The IRS mandates that investors store precious metals within an IRA in a third-party gold depository. Hence, any company claiming they will offer home storage for gold you buy within your IRA through them is most likely a scam company.

Some people want to buy IRA-eligible metals within their IRAs and store them at home while also enjoying tax benefits. Such people are willing to pay more than the standard prices for precious metals to achieve these desires.

The gold IRA storage scammers know this and exploit these investors' desires.

Usually, gold IRA investment companies offering home storage gold IRAs will not set up gold IRAs for their interested investors. They will not comply with the IRS rules for precious metals IRA accounts and investments even if they set up IRA accounts for their victims.

gold ira pros and cons

How to Identify Gold IRA Scams

Spotting or identifying gold scams is difficult, but you will know how if you understand how they work. Hence, in this section, we will be looking at gold IRA scams' anatomy.

The Anatomy of Gold or Silver IRA Scams

Precious metals IRAs are specialized self-directed individual retirement accounts. Only specialized IRA custodians can open and set up your gold IRA. The IRS usually licenses these custodians to carry out such functions.

Therefore, you must look for a trustworthy gold IRA dealer with much positive consumer feedback and rating on trusted consumer ratings websites like BBB (Better Business Bureau), BCA (Business Consumer Alliance), TrustLink, and others.

Not doing business through verified companies will open you to gold IRA scams. Usually, unverified companies have investment red flags that you should not ignore. Let us look at some of the red flags you need to look out for from companies when investing in gold and silver IRAs through them.

Pushy Salesmen

When you discover that a gold IRA firm is forcing you to buy certain gold products, assuring you that the price of gold will keep increasing and not investing is to miss out on the massive ROI, it is best to avoid doing business with the company.

Generally, when salespeople become pushy, they can become uncomfortable and irritating to engage with. A salesperson persuading you more than necessary to buy a gold investment does not care about you. The person is probably just after the sales commission from selling to you. Hence, the person will trick you into buying even if it does not favor your investment need or expectations.

Phony Gold IRAs

Gold IRA investors should be careful about phony IRAs, especially when the company has shady characteristics. Most scammers use phony IRAs to rip unsuspecting investors off their money. They usually persuade you to send your funds and then run away with your money. You will then discover that the fake seller did not give you any gold assets or open a gold IRA in your name. These scammers move from state to state, looking for their next victim after every successful scam.

Non-Existent Purchases

If you are investing in gold and other precious metal assets through an IRA, you must buy your precious metals through your gold IRA custodian according to the IRS rules. Your custodian will purchase your metals through your preferred dealer and ensure transportation to a secure storage depository.

Your gold IRA custodian will give you proof or certification showing that you genuinely bought precious metals and that they are in a third-party gold depository. Any company that promises home storage for metals in your gold IRA portfolio will likely try to scam you because that is not the IRS gold IRA storage standard.

Selling Collectable Coins

According to the IRS, you must buy only precious metals, bullion coins, and bars with certain purity and fineness standards.

  • Gold (99.5% purity)
  • Silver (99.9% purity)
  • Platinum and palladium (99.95% purity)

Every precious metal investment with these purity levels qualifies for inclusion in a gold IRA. They are called IRA-eligible precious metal products. The only exception to this purity and fineness rule is the American Gold Eagle coin. The United States Mint produces the coin with a purity level of 91.67%.

The IRS does not allow for the inclusion of collectibles in your gold IRA portfolio. The IRS sees collectible or rare-proof coins as commodities rather than as investments. Hence, you must not fall for the dubious sales pitch persuading you to buy rare collectibles or rare coins for inclusion in your gold IRA. Any company asking you to purchase collectible coins as a gold IRA investment is trying to scam you because reputable companies following the IRS guidelines do not include collectibles as part of their IRA-eligible metals for sale.

In addition, these scam companies tend to charge novice investors more for these IRA-ineligible gold coins in the guise that these coins are rare. Please be aware that legitimate precious metals dealers will provide sufficient information and allow you to research rare coins before discussing investing in them.

Scraped or Shaved Coins

Some scam gold companies will sell scraped coins to unsuspecting investors. Usually, these companies scrape off a few gold grains from the coins they put up for sale for their benefit. When you see a coin that looks funny during purchase, desist from buying it. Better still, you can buy from reputable and respected gold companies or through a gold IRA. Your custodian will do the job of avoiding scraped or shaved coins for you.

Misleading Contracts

As a gold investor, do not buy gold through any company without understanding the fine print on its contract document. You should also not sign any document you have not fully understood the words in the fine print when purchasing gold from a dealer. We know that reading these contracts can be tedious, but it is part of your due diligence to ensure you do not fall into scams.

Suppose you do not have the patience to go through gold IRA companies' contracts before investing in precious metals through them. In that case, we strongly recommend you invest through any of our top gold dealers.

If you want to deal with any company that is not on our list or is not well known for its good reputation in the gold industry, please heighten your reading consciousness.

Please do not sign any document that you do not understand. Ensure you know what you are signing for. If you are having difficulties understanding the document, please seek the services of a qualified attorney to ensure and validate the legitimacy of the document. Doing these things might save you from losing your money to scam companies.

Unsolicited Offers

Any agent that calls you from nowhere convincing you to invest in a precious metal IRA through a company is most likely a fraudster. Agents from reputable gold dealers will only respond to queries from potential customers, not calling strangers and advising them to invest.

More Things You Need to Know about Avoiding Gold IRA Scams

Apart from paying attention to the types of products like gold and silver coins and researching gold IRA companies carefully, you should also pay attention to a company's longevity before investing. One of the things you should check out when studying the company's longevity in the industry is its number of positive ratings and feedback since it started operations.

You also need to focus on how the company completes its transactions. Does it complete transactions via the phone or online through its website? You should also know the state of its customer service and affiliation with sites like BBB and other trusted consumer rating sites.

You must pay attention to all these things because the number of gold IRA scams in the industry is increasing. You will most likely avoid falling victim by 90% to these gold IRA scams when you choose a trusted gold dealer to work with.

Below are other steps you can take to ensure you totally avoid these common gold scams.

Check the Price of the Products and Associated Fees

You should not just check for overpricing of gold bars and coins but also underpricing. Any deal that sounds too good to be true is likely, not legitimate.

Whether you are investing in gold or other precious metals within or without a gold IRA, pay attention to the gold firm's product price and compare it with the cost of gold in the general market.

The truth is that gold prices can fluctuate slightly, but that does not mean you will pay way more than or lower than the market spot gold price.

Most reputable gold dealers make guaranteed profits through associated fees or markup on the gold spot price. That should not be a problem if these fees are not outrageous. Hence, know the associated costs the gold dealer is asking you to pay and be aware of the dealer's markup on the gold spot price to ensure the price you pay for the product is fair.

Guaranteed ROIs and High-Pressure Limited Time Sales Tactics

Some scam companies and retailers make so many huge claims. You need to be skeptical when you meet a retailer making grandiose claims. For instance, the scam retailer can claim it has only a few coins for sale. You may also meet a scammer saying that you will make a particular ROI on your gold investments or telling you that gold is an investment without risks and 100% safe.

The truth is that gold is a safer investment when compared to other investment vehicles like paper assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and Exchange Traded Funds), but it is not risk-free. No investment in the world is free from risks. In addition, you need to ask yourself, "If this deal is this good, why are there no people rushing it? If there are people, why is the dealer pushing to sell to you so hard?"

Sales Channels for Gold IRA Investments

As we have mentioned, avoid gold dealers who contact you via emails and phone from the blues telling you to come and invest in a gold IRA through them.

In the same vein, do not fall into being enticed by marketing messages that are too good to be true on T.V., radio, or the internet.

We must also warn you that if you decide to purchase gold investments from dealers who are not in the U.S., the United States authorities will not go after or prosecute them if they turn out to be scammers because they are not within the country.

How To Select The Best Gold IRA Company

Type "Best Gold IRA Companies in the United States" on your search engine, and you will see a handful of companies popping up as the best in the U.S. These companies claim to be reputable for your gold IRA investments and account setup. However, the big question now will be, "Which of these companies are the best gold IRA firms for doing business in the United States?"

As a professional gold dealer review company, we have spent the last few years evaluating the best companies for your gold investments in the United States. After evaluating these companies, we identified the top gold IRA companies through which you can invest in gold and silver products in the United States.

We based our top five selections on deep research and subjective analysis through our standard gold dealer review methodology. Of all the companies we reviewed, Augusta Precious Metals, Goldco, American Hartford Gold, Birch Gold Group, and Noble Gold Investment are the best for doing business in the industry.

We established these companies as the best in the industry using these factors.

  • Credibility – Based on the online presence of these companies and the number of positive reviews they have on trusted consumer rating sites, these five companies are the best in the industry. For instance, Augusta Precious Metals does not have a single complaint from its customers on BBB since its inception. It is the only gold dealer with such a track record in the industry.
  • Experience – These companies have gained so much experience, having stayed for some time in the industry and actively doing business. Their wealth of experience in gold and silver investments has contributed to their reputation in the industry.
  • IRA Custodian and Depository – These firms work with some of the finest IRS-approved custodians and depositories in the United States. For instance, the top custodian and depository that our top five gold firms work with are Equity Trust and Delaware Depository, respectively.
  • Customer Education and Service – These companies are dedicated to educating their customers about gold IRA investing. They work with specialists that can help you make informed gold investment decisions after assisting you in setting up your gold IRA. They also have rich educational materials on gold IRA investing available for free on their websites.
  • Product Selection – Our top five gold IRA dealer recommendations do not just offer premium quality gold products; they sell gold IRA-eligible products for the best prices. You can always be sure you are buying suitable metals for inclusion in your gold IRA.

If you want to avoid gold IRA scams, you need to invest in a gold IRA through a reputable gold IRA firm, and you need to consider the factors that we have mentioned above.

With that said, let's briefly explore some of the individual features of our top five gold IRA companies. You will discover the qualities that have made us rank them so highly.

Top Five Trustworthy Gold IRA Firms in the U.S.A

Augusta Precious Metals

This company is the absolute best gold IRA firm in the U.S. today due to Augusta's transparency, pricing, dedication to education, and extraordinary attention given to customers. We highly recommend that everyone take advantage of their one-of-a-kind free web conference that helps you understand the economy, threats to your retirement, and the precious metals buying process (designed by their in-house Harvard-certified economic analyst). They even share tips for avoiding gimmicks and high-pressure tactics in this unregulated industry.

This gold precious metals specialist company was chosen by Money magazine as "The Best Overall" in its Best Gold IRA Companies list for 2023. It is the only gold IRA firm with ZERO complaints on the BBB website since 2012. It has an outstanding track record proven by consumer watchdog ratings and tons of the best customer reviews, including endorsement by hall-of-fame quarterback Joe Montana, whose advisors found Augusta for him. We are thrilled to recommend Augusta as our #1 gold IRA company!


  • Award-winning recognition for account lifetime customer service Money magazine's "Best Overall" & Investopedia's "Most Transparent" in 2022
  • Only gold IRA firm with ZERO complaints at BBB, BCA since launching in 2012.
  • Thousands of 5-star ratings from customers.
  • Must-watch: Free web conference with an excellent focus on consumer education.
  • Endorsement by high-income customers, including corporate ambassador Joe Montana whose team found this company for him.
  • Transparent, streamlined process and competitive rates.
  • No hidden management fees & ZERO custodian/storage fees for up to 10 years – every customer qualifies.


  • A minimum balance of $50,000 in savings makes this best for the "red carpet."
  • Virtual account opening is not possible.

To start investing with Augusta Precious Metals, please click this link to download its 2023 gold investment kit for free.


Established in 2006, this company has an excellent solid record and is our top recommendation for people looking to invest over $25,000 in a gold IRA. We consider this the 2nd best Gold IRA Company in The USA Today.


  • 2nd Ranked Gold IRA dealer.
  • Top ratings from BCA, TrustPilot, and other third-party review sites and excellent customer reviews.
  • Biggest promotions in the industry.
  • Best buyback program.
  • No high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Works with the most secure storage companies.
  • Dedicated expertise in precious metals.
  • Excellent customer support.


  • The minimum IRA deposit requirement is $25,000.
  • You cannot virtually set up an account.
  • Information about the management is not available on the Goldco
  • The fee may appear to be slightly higher than some budget-friendly rivals.

To start investing with Goldco, please click this link to download its 2023 gold investment kit for free.

American Hartford Gold

One of the most trusted Gold and Precious Metal brokers in the United States is American Hartford Gold. This family-owned company is endorsed by Bill O'Reilly and America's Mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

American Hartford Gold is great for gold IRAs, precious metal IRAs, and purchasing physical Gold, Silver, and Platinum.


  • Easy-to-open accounts with very competitive rates.
  • Free storage, maintenance & insurance for up to 3 years.
  • Physical gold and silver delivered to your front door at no additional cost.
  • Hassle-free process to buy back your precious metals with no fees.
  • Does not share your information with any private or public entity.


  • No prices on the online catalog.
  • Doesn't ship out of the U.S.
  • Minimum investment requirement of $10,000 for Gold IRA rollovers.

To start investing with American Hartford Gold, please click this link to download its 2023 gold investment kit for free.

Birch Gold

Since its establishment in 2003, Birch Gold has delighted customers and provided excellent customer education. Their one-on-one interactions with customers are a fundamental advantage for those who want to make vital financial decisions impacting their future.


  • Top ratings from national consumer agencies.
  • Opportunity to invest in palladium and platinum.
  • For investments above $50,000, no fee in the first year.
  • Exceptional customer service, support, and advice.
  • A strong market presence and a history of nearly 20 years.


  • Online account opening is not permitted.
  • There is no onsite live customer chat.
  • Annual fees and setup costs are not accessible online. 
  • You need their information kit to find complete details about the management team.

To start investing with Birch Gold Group, please click this link to download its 2023 gold investment kit for free.

Noble Gold

The truth is that Noble Gold has not been around the scene for a long time, but it has, in the shortest time possible, made huge impacts on the gold IRA market. Since its inception, the company has captured customers' hearts via its vast educational resources gallery and low investment requirements. The company also has high ratings on third-party rating sites like BCA and Consumer Affairs.

According to the agent we spoke to, Noble Gold gives customers a committed account manager from the first day they decide to open a gold IRA account with it. The account managers will also give the customers all they need to know about how a gold IRA works and the setup process. In addition, they offer a smooth buyback process to their customers.

Noble Gold works with Delaware Depository and Brink's Global Services to provide storage services for its customers. In addition to these storage companies, Noble Gold owns its depository in Texas. Hence, customers can choose to store their metals in any of these three depositories. 


  • They have high ratings on more than one trusted customer rating site.
  • Their minimum initial investment is $2000.
  • They give their customers a free gold IRA guide.
  • They have their IRS-approved storage facility in Texas.


  • Their Gold products come with a high premium.

To start investing with Noble Gold Investment, please click this link to download its 2023 gold investment kit for free.


Moving money from your traditional retirement savings plan into your gold IRA for precious metal investments has many advantages. However, being a significant move, you must conduct your research correctly to avoid the various investment scams in the gold industry.

When you get very familiar with the common scams in the industry and carefully choose the best gold IRA company to work with, you will not fall easily into these scams.

We believe this guide has provided sufficient information about these common scams, how to identify and avoid them, and the best companies to invest in gold IRA to be free from scammers. With these in mind, click the links in the previous section to start investing through a trusted precious metals firm.


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