They're all over the airwaves -- bold, sometimes obnoxious offers of cash for your gold jewelry.
The cynicism over these offers was not lost on this e-mail from "Vickie" of Memphis:
"We have been very curious about cash 4 gold, but I am more concerned with 'unknowing' individuals. Could you please check this out for Memphis?"
Vickie, no matter what cash-for-gold offer you deal with, the Mid-South Better Business Bureau says you need to look out for these pitfalls:
- Bait & Switch: Some gold buyers only post prices they pay for large amounts of gold but don't mention that there's a penalty for smaller quantities.
- False Statements of Insurance: Some companies send consumers mailers for their precious metals, claiming the contents are insured. Putting gold in an envelope and mailing it is neither secure nor insured.
- No Real-Time Tracking: Many dishonest buyers claim your package is traceable, but only provide a first class, postage-paid mailing envelope which, in fact, cannot be tracked.
- Cat and Mouse Payments: Some buyers will send a check without first allowing the seller to reject their offer. The result is they have your gold, and you have a low-ball check. To get items back, you must first return the check and wait as long as 30 days to get your jewelry back.
- Inadequate Customer Service: Many disreputable gold buyers use outside call centers and only want to collect your personal information for use in identity theft.
- Changing Quotes: Some of these big players initially offer a low quote or low payment by a surprise check, then only double or triple the offer when the seller objects.
- Difficult Returns: When there is a disagreement over price and a seller requests their gold be returned, some buyers don't return the items quickly and may even charge a processing and shipping fee for the return.
- Slow Processing: Many in the gold-buying industry are unable to deliver on promises to close the deal in the advertised 12 to 24-hour time frame.
- Fudging the Weight: Some companies will claim the gold weighs less than it actually does.
Always verify that a cash-for-gold company is legitimate, either through the BBB or through the consumer affairs division or attorney general of the state where the company is based.
It's also a good idea to get a reliable appraiser to appraise your jewelry before you send it off. In fact, an appraiser or jeweler may be the one who actually pays top dollar for your jewelry.