How to buy Gold Safely?

Just like 'Fake News' in 2018 and prior, there are also various 'Fake Reviews' for gold dealers online.

Here we will try and help you identify the best gold dealers when you seek to buy gold safely in 2018.

Learn how to perform some proper due diligence on gold dealers using various trusted organic 3rd party review websites and methodoligies.

Buying Gold Online Safely

The following content is not intended to scare you. It is intended to empower you.

We want to give you some online tools to buy gold safely and intelligently in 2018 and beyond.

Know that in general, local coin and online bullion dealers have good business practices.

But there are still various unscrupulous business practices ongoing in the gold industry.

Specifically each and everyday there are individuals taken advantage of by poor business practices (e.g. bait and switch, high pressure sales tactics, overpriced coin pitches, off futures exchange leverage accounts, paper gold, electronic trade funds, etc.).

All these aforementioned dubious gold buying choices virtually entirely defeat the point of acquiring gold bullion in the first place.

The amounts of bad gold buys out there are about as innumerable as the amounts of good quality gold bullion product choices to acquire.

The key is knowing how to determine between the two.

The growth of the internet has helped expose many poor business practices in our industry. Much of the bad business practices currently still in practice (or possibly being shutdown by the CFTC) today, likely flourished throughout the brutal gold bullion bear market spanning from 1980 to the year 2000. 

Unknowing customer bases can be easily acquired, burned, churned, and replenished if you have a large enough marketing budget to run commercials on TV or via radio ads on supposed right wing talk radio programs.

Frankly it's embarrassing to even somehow ever associated with the surprising level of bad actors in this industry. Preying on unknowing investors using legally grey tactics at the very least still deserves an enlightened shunning. Once caught the same individuals may disappear for a short time but many eventually pop up elsewhere, under another corporate name and structure.

Shortly we will cover how to perform the best gold buying due diligence you can perform right now online, before you buy gold bullion or place any gold orders, anywhere.

We are going to show you where and how to look in order to better ensure you don’t do business with potentially bankrupting or nefarious gold dealers who have poor business models (i.e. one in which the nefarious dealer gets nearly 100% of the transactional value, the customer gets none to little at all).

The following is basically an overview of general gold dealer business models currently operating in the unregulated physical precious metals industry.

Present day Gold Dealer business models are basically the following:

  • Local Brick & Mortar Coin Shops (Collector Coins, Bullion)

  • High Volume Online Bullion Wholesalers & Retailers (like us, SDBullion.com)

  • Rare Collector Coin Dealers (Numismatics, Near Museum Quality)

  • Semi-Rare and often Overpriced Online Coin Dealers (High Sales Commissions)

  • Sell and also Store your bullion for you (risky, most with limited costly delivery)

  • Leverage dealers (Extremely Risky)

When buying physical investment grade gold bullion products, you want a return of your capital first and foremost to begin.

Then low premium gold bullion in your direct possession will provide wealth protection. And likely with time, an eventual return on your capital allocated if you ever choose to sell.

There is also a common saying in our industry, “If you can’t hold it, you don’t own it.

This saying essentially means that when one wants exposure to gold bullion values, one should have direct ownership first.

Begin with some possession in hand and for larger allocations get your own direct account with professional fully insured non-bank depository services (e.g. Professional Secure Logistics accounts with Brink’s or Loomis directly being two examples).

The lone exception is when buying gold bullion for an Individual Retirement Account (Gold IRAs).

Know the IRS mandates that a 3rd party IRA trustee must be involved. No matter what LLC nonsense you get pitched online, you cannot take IRA gold bullion delivered to your home or your hands without future repercussions. Those who have done this will likely be fined or back taxed by the IRS for years to come.

Gold Dealer WhistleBlower Website

Luckily today the bullion industry has an active blogging, quasi-whistleblower who has documented hundreds of industry gold dealer bankruptcies, alleged gold dealer frauds, gold dealer related lawsuits, government regulatory gold dealer shut-downs, etc.

Bullion Bankruptcy, Fraud, Government Actions, etc.


This constantly updated gold dealer information page can really help readers become more aware of some common alleged poor gold dealer business practices. Many allegedly ongoing and others which have come and gone leaving potentially hundreds of thousands victims over time.

Also know that the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has helpful guidelines and statutes demanding any off exchange leverage account operations actually deliver a customer’s gold bullion within 28 days of purchase and full payment.

How do You Avoid Potential Gold Scammers?

For beginning would-be gold bullion buyers, the start typically goes something like so.

Somehow you got interested in learning more about precious metals.

Perhaps it was the 2008 Financial Crisis or newly enacted anti-spillover ‘financial freeze’ laws enacted since that raised you levels of concern ( e.g. the new G20 Bank Bail-in Laws enacted in late 2014, or new Money Market Fund Redemption Gates and Liquidity Fee laws, etc.)

For convenience sake, you likely started your research by visiting Google, Youtube, or perhaps another large internet search engine. There you likely entered various search terms related to precious metals and investing.

'Buy Gold' Search Term Results

If any of your search terms had the words “silver” or “gold” in them, the top half of that 1st search result page was most likely first filled with retail silver and gold dealers who have paid for their top listings ( e.g. Ad ) through services like Youtube and Google Adwords.

After you scroll down past the paid Ad advertisement links you likely find other online high google ranked gold and silver dealers who have consciously jockeyed and secured high rankings for the specific search terms you entered using search engine optimization tactics (called SEO for short).

On youtube you might have found a vlogger who is being compensated to suggest various gold dealers (paid affiliates).

How do you figure out who from these mostly privately owned businesses and characters should be trusted with your hard earned savings?

Where can I buy gold bullion safely from in 2018 and beyond?

Where can I buy gold bullion at a fair price?

Which gold dealers have great service and quick delivery?

These questions are not easy, especially for beginners.

This is figuratively how we still read the top portion of our latest “Buy Gold” google search:

Buy Gold Google Search "Buy Gold" Google Search Result Ads

Even organically ranked gold dealer links may not be much better than these paid sarcastic versions pictured above.

Truth is whether it is through paid advertising or ‘organic’ optimized high ranking website pages, the top to bottom results you are given from internet searches are often not the best results for your specific needs.

Sure Google may be trying to help you answer your question, but they also get paid to do so via Ads.

Search Engine Optimization techniques are open to honest and not so honest bullion dealers alike.

The profits most likely often paying for Goodle search Ads you see for 'Buy Gold' seraches are often times paid with profits made from gold products you should avoid (and ones many poor souls likely financef by buying the wrong products).

As your search continues you will likely visit a bunch of online gold dealer websites.

Perhaps you proceed to read some of the writings on their websites, watch some of their videos, maybe you even called them on the phone.

Within all this content and company personnel, you likely will find contradictory information is rampant.

Which Gold Dealers can you Trust?

Next you might think to do a search on local coin dealers in the area.

Trouble is many of the search engine results will again give you mixed results between pawn shops, we buy gold shops, and perhaps a few local local coin dealers most without fully functioning well written websites nor organic online review trails.

As well, there may be state taxes involved with purchasing physical precious metals locally (e.g. California, Florida, New York, etc.) perhaps throwing a wrench into a buy low, maybe one day sell some high strategy.

Gold Dealer Track Records

Thanks to the downward and sideways price action of gold bullion over the last +5 years, most of the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ gold sellers have been weeded out through how highly competitive the physical gold bullion industry is. Often honest high volume gold bullion dealers work on basis point profit margins (less than 1%).

From recently lowering gold bullion buy and sell business volumes, as well shrinking product premiums and thus lower per transaction profitability, many recent startup gold bullion dealers are now closed.

Perhaps you are thinking...

Yea well there are still a lot of them out there. “I just saw a ‘Buy Gold TV’ spot recently?” on CNBC. I also just heard a ‘you should buy gold’ radio commercials on my national talk radio guy’s show driving to work today.

Yes indeed, alleged active online “Bait & Switchers” or greed enticing “Leverage Account” gold pitchers still advertise in magazines, on radio shows, and through various television commercials on stock cheerleading channels like Bloomberg Business even.

High price gold dealer advertising campaigns are usually a dead giveaway that the advertising business is running a high profit margin model. Such business models may perhaps be good for them, but not likely for their unknowing customers. Steer clear.

When it comes to the gold bullion dealer(s) you choose, make sure they mostly offer low premium bullion products transparently and competitively priced near the live fluctuating gold spot price (note that, during financial crisis product premiums will rise substantially, as well gold bullion products will sell out and become unavailable).

Be sure you can buy your gold bullion in real time (i.e. ‘Lock in Your Price’ for the gold bullion products you are buying) without having to call or send full payment by check or bank wire ahead of time. Doing this helps you avoid alleged bait and switch practitioners who use hard sales tactics after they have your funds cleared in their bank accounts.

The amount of years a bullion dealer has been in business successfully is important but just being in business even for decades doesn’t necessarily mean a company has not gotten away with decades of nefarious business practices leaving a long list of private lawsuit settlements, and bitter customers behind.

In 2014, an over $300 USD million a year revenue generating online gold bullion dealer (with an over 20 year track record of fine service), went unexpectedly bankrupt.

This particular gold bullion dealer imploded into bankruptcy over a smattering of months. Anyone with the right active online research tools could have avoided this as there were telltale signs and online complaints many months ahead of time before the dealer’s bankruptcy occurred.

The gold bullion buyers who had their capital tied up in that particular now bankrupt gold dealing company, have been fighting to get back pennies on the dollar for years now.

That lawsuit is still ongoing, it is the year 2018 as of writing this. That’s four years time.

Let’s try to help you avoid anything like that.

Find Organic Online Gold Dealer Reviews

Prior to each and every time before you buy from a gold bullion dealer, be sure to check their latest hard to rig online reviews on third party maintained websites like GoldDealerReviews.com.

Know that many supposed big online review websites have conflicts of interest inherent in their business models.

Just like Google search's supposed ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reviews, you have to be aware of the review sources they use and where they may come from.

Many third party review websites can and are often allegedly rigged.

It used to be you could simply check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of a company. If the rating was an A or better, you could then rest assured the company was ethical.

Sorry that is not necessarily true anymore.

According to this investigative report by ABC’s 20/20, the BBB rating system has allegedly become somewhat corruptible.

Over the years we have seen some gold dealer BBB rating go from a D or F to an A rating overnight.

Perhaps after some alleged premium service payola their rating upside down.

Better Business Bureau Probe


While perhaps BBB ratings do not count for much anymore, with the BBB you can typically still get a good feel for how a gold bullion dealing company runs its business.

Try reading all the official customer complaints currently on the right hand side of the gold dealing company’s BBB website.

Here you can learn a lot about how a gold bullion business operates.

BBB SD Bullion A+ Rating


Be sure to find and drill down into all complaints to see what they are all about and how they were resolved (if at all).

There you should be able to see customer's complaints in full, as well see if the business has chosen to respond. It may also detail how the situation was finally resolved if at all.

While it may seem a little contradictory, it is good to see some complaints about a gold bullion dealing company.

Some complaints at least show the gold dealer has enough business volume to generate some unhappy gold bullion buying customers. But better still it gives readers insight into how the gold dealer may run their business after making mistakes.

Do they take direct responsibility for any shortcomings?

Or are they misdirecting and shirking responsibility onto other third parties (shippers, etc.) ?

How do they resolve business related customer issues and complaints?

It is not necessarily a good thing to find a company with no complaints at all.

This could simply be a sign that the gold dealing company just doesn’t have enough gold buying customers to complain (possibly signaling other potential issues). Or that they are completely new and inexperienced in the industry.

Gold dealer due diligence you perform is somewhat similar to your credit score history. A bank prefers someone with a credit history with a few minor dings over someone with zero credit history at all.

What you are looking for are (#1) the ratio of gold dealer company complaints vs positive organic reviews as well as (#2) how the company resolves if at all each specific complaint.

What you should hope to see are a few minor issues. A slight ding on a gold coin or bar, a slight delay in delivery here or there, an unknown shipping charge, etc.

Many complaints are either due to customers simply not fully understanding the gold bullion buying process and then prematurely overreacting by going to the BBB to file complaints before clarifying or rectifying the situation with the company directly.

Often too, the complaints are also simple honest mistakes made by the gold bullion dealing business or even parcel delivering mailmen or mailwomen themselves.

Avoid Gold Dealer Bankruptcies & Gold Buying Mistakes

Physical precious metal bullion items are so expensive, even a single failed order could cost you years of hard earned savings.

It does not matter how many times you have successfully bought from a specific gold bullion dealer before.

Always perform your proper due diligence on recent customer reviews each and every single time you risk your hard earned savings in a gold bullion purchase. Every time.

We are not talking about easy to rig 3rd party paid affiliate website services where the business model is either a payola per month subscription for any company who wants to be listed. Or fake review websites where individual online affiliates create various slick website designs attempting to purvey real research and honest customer reviews.

Try to find hard to rig, organic review websites which have actually helped bullion buyers avoid losing their hard earned capital to imploding, incompetent, and or potentially crooked dealers.

Failing gold bullion dealers and the multi-millions in people’s hard earned savings which were lost remain are there to see if you have the stomach:

  • Northwest Territorial Mint - allegedly used customer funds to cover their operational expenses resulting in really long delivery times. An employee here waited over 4 months for a 100 oz silver bar delivery in the spring of 2007. This company’s owner recently lost a major lawsuit and the company recently filed for bankruptcy.

  • Bullion Direct - filed for bankruptcy allegedly after losing or ‘misallocating’ some $30,000,000 USD in customer cash and supposed bullion vault holdings.

  • Merit Gold - an alleged bait and switch dealer which was allegedly shut down by the Santa Monica District Attorney’s office for poor business practices.

  • Tulving - went bankrupt in 2014, former owner is now in prison. Many former regular bullion buying customers from Tulving are still involved in a lawsuit likely to only receive pennies or dimes on the dollars they have had tied up in bankruptcy proceedings.

  • Penn Metals - closed their doors in late 2016, supposedly due to an unforeseen and unpredictable personal health crisis of the owner of the business. Unsure whether any customers lost funds or not.

As often happens in these situations, high volumes of bad customer reviews get increasingly posted online before a company goes bankrupt or shuts their doors perhaps unexpectedly.

Again always investigate any gold bullion dealers customer complaint trends before each and every order you might place online.

With the somewhat recent bankruptcy of the Tulving Company in the spring of 2014, many of Tulving’s then regular and even newer clients didn’t do the proper pre-order due-diligence before ordering in late 2013 or early 2014.

Many are still paying for that mistake.

Understandably many former repeat Tulving customers had ordered successfully from them year after year so they likely assumed all was well and it would be business as usual (order at a cheap price, bullion delivered fast, safe, etc.).

We likely all know what military professionals say about assumptions being the mothers of all ______ ups.

Buy Gold Locally

You may be thinking to yourself, “O.K., screw these online risks, I’ll just buy gold locally”.

If you are buying an even moderate amount of gold bullion, understand that most local coin shops are simply mint and larger dealer middlemen.

For many $10k to over $100k orders for gold bullion locally, you may have to give the local gold dealer 100% of good funds for the order before it is placed and the price gets ‘locked in’.

This same local gold dealer will most likely simply order the gold bullion items you want from a mint or larger bullion dealer, and you’ll be forced to wait it out for delivery in full regardless.

For example, it wasn’t just online gold buyers who got hit by the 2014 Tulving bankruptcy, it was also street-level retail gold bullion buyers who were left flailing without delivery of what they supposedly bought at their local gold dealer.

Our sincere gold bullion buying safely suggestions are as follows.

If you buy gold bullion locally, get that gold bullion in your hand that very same day.

Cash on the barrelhead and walk with your gold bullion, no delays.

If you buy gold online, investigate each and every time before you buy gold from any gold dealer.

We do not care if you have done business with them before either.

Always confirm that a gold bullion dealer is indeed still delivering gold bullion within acceptable delivery time frames to be more confident on their solvency and ongoing gold bullion business practices.

Buy Gold Online or Buy Gold Locally?

Even if you live in or near a major city, your best bullion prices will still most likely be found online.

This is mainly due to what in business is referred to economies of scale.

Think about it in terms of overhead and ongoing monthly expenses.

High volume online bullion dealers typically have way larger sales volumes and lower overhead costs without a retail storefront. Online bullion dealers can market to their entire respective countries of delivery, this gives online high volume gold bullion dealers a much larger population of potential clients to sell and buy from.

Finding a trusted local gold bullion dealing coin shop is great if you are in need of a quick purchase or a sale for cash. There is also a sensical argument for privacy being stronger in a local gold dealer or gold coin shop but if you are buying in bulk ($10,000 USD or more) you will still get a paper trail from either a check or bank wire transfer used in payment regardless. This is due to Anti-Money Laundering policies, known in short by its acronym AML.

The employees, other customers, and even bystanders on the street nearby could also begin recognize your face or worse trail you on your way home for future robbery.

We may sound paranoid, but think it all through. Common sense is required to buy gold safely either online or locally.

Bottom line in all choices of whether to buy bullion online or locally. All have various risks associated.

Gold Bullion Price

Before you buy gold bullion you should competitively check total prices either locally to hand (after any taxes associated), to your direct non-bank vault account, or to your door.

You will also want to steer clear of any potential loss leader products sold by dealers at low prices, with the ulterior motive of getting you on upsell phone call or mailing lists.

New articles and media reports documenting poor people who mistakenly bought fake counterfeit ‘bullion’ products via Craigslist or other online exchanges are always being reported.

This unfortunately happen a lot (most go unreported due to embarrassment or perhaps the victim is still unknowingly conned).

Many scam artists buy fake chinese products and then advertise them priced at or below spot to entice unknowing buyers to fall for the scam.

How to Avoid Fake Gold Bullion Products

Stick with only trusted proven gold bullion sellers to ensure you get the genuine articles.

Know that any offers to buy gold bullion heavily priced under spot is virtually 100% of the time, a full on scam in waiting.

Gold Dealer Differentiators

Consider the gold bullion dealer’s value proposition.

Do they guarantee all the products they sell?

Do they offer fast friendly customer service?

Do they have well researched, free online information to teach you valuable info?

Are they consultatory, ready to intelligently answer your gold bullion related questions?

Are they educating you on your various options as a potential gold bullion buyer? Or are they probing, trying to steer you into a specific gold product they recommend?

Is there any intelligence to the information they provide you? Or are they merely playing on fear or greed based emotions to steer you into the product(s) they want you to buy?

What about delivery? What are the details?

For large would be gold bullion buyers, do they also offer any direct professional 3rd party non-dealer non-bank storage options close to home (or internationally even)?

Steer clear of any vault or gold bullion storage options where the bullion dealer has any association or management involvement (potential for fraud goes up exponentially in these models).

What about Gold IRA intelligence?

Does the gold dealer offer any or are they simply pushing you into a one size fits all program with no intelligence at all?

Gold Bullion Dealer Product Selection

Does the gold bullion dealer offer high volume two way bought and sold bullion brands?

Or do they merely offer an overwhelming number of specialized high price products to choose from? Good luck, figure it out yourself.

Perhaps steer clear of those who only specialize in once hoarded now graded, great-granddaddy pre-1933 coins, modern proof coins, or rare high profit margin collectibles.

Any large gold product premiums, when given enough time almost always disappear.

Gold bullion market veterans know this and thus virtually whenever any gold product develops large premiums over their precious metal content, the savvy gold bullion buyer tends to sell off the premium gold bullion product and uses the proceeds to buy cheaper lower premium gold bullion items in order to increase the number of physical precious metal ounces one holds in total.

Gold Bullion Speed of Delivery

Huge demand upheavals in the physical bullion markets aside, in calm markets after your full payment clears with your chosen bullion dealer you should get tracking information and delivery to follow in a matter of mere business days (standard 5 to 10 business day check clearance times are often the longest delaying outlier here).

TIf it takes long for physical delivery of your order you may be financing a losing venture.

Gold Dealer Shipping Fees

A recent trend in the high volume online gold bullion dealer industry is to front load premiums and prices with shipping and insurance costs included in them. Some simply offer FREE SHIPPING with a minimal spending threshold to qualify.

The actual cost to safely ship gold bullion fully insured to domestic USA customer’s doors or direct non-bank gold vault accounts should vary from $5 to $50 USD per 1 to 10 ounces of gold shipped. Your chosen gold bullion dealer better have full insurance, pack tightly your gold bullion in nondescript parcels, and send you tracking information upon the start of shipment.

Unless you are shipping to or taking gold bullion delivery from sources internationally, gold shipping and full gold parcel insurance fees should be minimal, yet still dependent upon the size of the order and distance being shipped.

Gold Bullion Buy Back Prices

Does the gold dealer you are buying from buy gold bullion back from its customer base?

Bid prices are what the gold dealer is offering to buy the like kind bullion products they sell at. Ask prices are what the gold dealer is actively selling the gold bullion products at. Ask prices will always be higher than bid prices, unless the gold bullion dealer intends to eventually go broke.

Gold Bullion IRAs

By using a Traditional IRA, investors are able to make contributions to their retirement account tax deductible.

Conversely with a Roth IRA, investors won’t be able to deduct their contribution now but the may be able to circumvent future capital gains taxes on bullion price appreciations (which currently can be as high as 28% depending upon circumstances). Of course consult your tax professional on any capital gains or losses you ever have.

Also depending on the state you reside in, Gold IRAs may be totally protected against bankruptcy liens or lawsuits aimed at an individual or individual’s estate.

But be careful here though.

If you simply google the search term “Gold IRA” or “Best Gold IRA”, approximately 80% of the first landing page’s search results will have either ‘$25 a click’ google advertisements ( e.g. Ad ) or kick-back lead generation affiliate websites.

You know why ‘Gold IRA’ is still one of the most expensive search Ad ‘s in our industry?

Because people are likely often getting ripped off at the end of them. Yes rigged Gold IRA affiliate review websites and 6-page Gold IRA kits for your phone number be damned.

Likely the end the results of those paths will be some overpriced high premium collector coin ‘Bait & Switch’ or perhaps a non-IRS approved ‘physical IRA possession pitch’ neither of which will be in your long term best interest.

To acquire honest and fair bullion products for your IRA, the process is still pretty simple.

Try the following 5 steps.

Step 1)

Locate a trustworthy gold bullion dealer with physical IRA services.

Step 2)

Invesitigate which Gold IRA custodians your trusted gold bullion dealer works with.

Step 3)

After proper due diligence, choose and complete your new Gold IRA paperwork and rollover forms from your former IRA custodian(s).

Step 4)

Fund your Gold IRA with a monetary contribution, or a direct transfer from another IRA, or via rollover funds received from other retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or 403(b).

Select the right IRS bullion approved products in line with your long term investment objectives.

The best gold bullion dealers will have highly trained experienced staff members who can help you throughout the gold bullion IRA buying process.

Step 5)

Purchase your selected gold bullion products with proceeds from your IRA paid for by your new IRA custodian. The bullion will then be shipped to the trusted non-bank depository the custodian or you have selected.

The most important part of the entire process will be finding the combination of a highly trustworthy gold bullion dealer and gold IRA custodian who offers responsive high touch services which best suit your long term needs.

If you enjoy this educational gold bullion buying safely content,

signup to receive our free gold bullion buying guide here: 21st Century Gold Rush.

21st Century Gold Rush

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James Anderson
James Anderson
Senior Market Analyst & Content

A bullion buyer years before the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, James Anderson is a grounded precious metals researcher, content creator, and physical investment grade bullion professional. He has authored several Gold & Silver Guides and has been featured on the History Channel, Zero Hedge, Gold-Eagle, Silver Seek, Value Walk and many more. You can pick up Jame's most recent, comprehensive 200+ Page book here at SD Bullion.

Given that repressed commodity values are now near 100-year low level valuations versus large US stocks, James remains convinced investors and savers should buy and maintain a prudent physical bullion position now, before more unfunded promises debase away in the coming decades...