How to Spot a Gold IRA Scam? A Guide to Avoid IRA and Gold Scams

When it comes to speculative investments, there are two important rules you should always follow:

  1. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is!
  2. caveat emptor, i.e., “let the buyer beware.”!

This collection of rules also apply to life in general, so they represent a serious win-win, and they can also be used to spot a gold IRA scam. These scams have become especially popular given the popularity of gold and precious metals as investment vehicles, and some of the gold IRA scammers know how to look like the real thing when it comes to selling gold IRAs.

But they’re not. Those two basic platitudes we just mentioned won’t get you all the way through the Gold IRA evaluation process, either, so let’s offer some specifics. What follows is a breakdown article of some ways for the reader to spot a gold or precious metals investment scam that’s mostly designed to part you from your money as opposed as offering you a genuine gold IRA. Those scams can come in many sizes and shapes, but with a little bit of training you’ll be able to spot them quickly.

The Source of the Gold IRA Scam

The first thing readers need to consider when they think they’re being pitched by a gold scammer is to consider the source. We’re not talking about the pitchman or the publisher, either. We’re talking about the message itself and how it arrives.

Specifically, did you get the offer via an email? Did you get a cold call from out of the blue? Both of these tactics may indicate that someone bought a financial investment list with your name on it, and if that’s the case they may be prospecting, and chances are they’ve got no gold IRA to offer but rather are getting ready to scam you.

The simplest way to control and deal with this is to mark the email as spam and hang up on the caller. That will completely eliminate the possibility of getting scammed, regardless of how good the offer looks or sounds. Similar tactics are used with fake real estate deals.

If you do choose to evaluate the specifics of the gold IRA offer, here’s something else to keep in mind. Reputable gold investment companies don’t need to send blind emails or make cold calls to sell you a gold IRA.

They know that there are far more reliable vehicles they can use to attract prospective gold IRA customers, so these two methods won’t be part of their gold IRA sales formula.

Also, they know that their best gold IRA customers will generally find them somewhere along the line, like in a post from an independent reviews website. Savvy gold investors do plenty of homework, read posts, and the best and most reputable gold IRA companies always turn up during the research process. The simple fact is that’s usually when and how the match happens.

Finally, reputable companies don’t necessarily want anything to do with potential customers who think that a gold IRA, gold, or precious metals are an excellent way to make big bucks. The Gold Rush happened back in the 1800s, and in today’s investment world, savvy investors buy gold and precious metals as part of a balanced portfolio, and know the long-term potential of a gold IRA.

They take into account all of the market factors, both good and bad, and they make their gold and precious metal investment accordingly. Their decisions are often informed by a comprehensive analysis of market views and trends.

The Gold and Precious Metals Guarantee Scam

If you get or see a gold investment offer that includes the words “guaranteed return”, your response should be simple—run. Or hang up the phone, bounce the email, ignore any link, or click on that little X in the form corner, which may be harder than usual to find.

Why? Because there’s no forms of guaranteed return in investment markets, including within a gold IRA!

The closest thing you’ll get to a guarantee in the gold and precious metals investment world is a series of numbers based on the gold IRA return history. Gold and precious metals have a strong history of positive returns, and smart investors often use it as a hedge against inflation or a way to make their portfolios more stable in a volatile market.

Promising anything more than that is stretching the truth in a best-case scenario, but more often than not it’s a red flag that you may be dealing with a gold IRA scammer.

The IRA Broker & Gold Dealer Scam: IRAs Are Regulated!

Another quick way to spot an investment scam is to check out the gold IRA broker. If you think you’re dealing with a gold scammer, the fastest way to verify this possibility is to ask about gold IRA licensing.

The best gold IRA brokers are licensed members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which is a non-profit organization that’s authorized by the government to oversee US brokers and certify an IRA company. Alternatively, the IRS regulates what products can be added to a metals IRA, make sure to always purchase certified gold for your gold IRA.

If you ask about the FINRA during a cold call and the line goes dead, you’ve just found out everything you need to know about that broker’s bona fides and the legitimacy of their gold IRA.

If the broker does claim to have an FINRA license, though, that doesn’t mean you should think that IRA scams or other potential scams won’t get you.

Brokers who offer investment products typically belong to several gold-specific financial organizations that provide information or an information kit, and recommendations to help them stay on top of the gold dealer market, so it’s worth your while to invest a few minutes of research to be able to know them and use them to verify a broker’s bona fides. Before taking any decision, always research the gold company you’re dealing with to avoid becoming a victim of a fake/unregulated gold IRA.

The Gold Ownership Scam

Another popular gold scam is based on the fact that you “own” the gold products in a gold IRA. The scam goes something like this: Because you physically own the gold, it will always be yours. No one can take it from you, and it will always go up in value. Hold on to it for long enough, and you’ll literally be sitting on a gold mine within your retirement savings.

This is nonsense, of course. Anyone who knows anything about the specifics of gold investment products is well aware that the so-called “ownership” of gold is based on the fact that purchased gold is stored in a gold IRA repository that’s closely overseen and regulated by the federal government, particularly when it comes to precious metals in retirement savings.

That usually doesn’t stop the gold scammers who use this one, though. Many of them will spin some pretty impressive fairy tales, and most of them are designed to separate fools from their money.

There’s no need for you to be one of them, though, so if you do happen to encounter one of these scammers you should quickly move on so you can keep your time sink to a minimum and find a proper gold IRA to invest in.

The Gold IRA Bait and Switch

Bait and switch is an ever-popular scam tactic that’s also found a home in the world of gold investment. It’s not all that hard to spot, but you have to know the right questions to ask.

This one generally comes in two flavors when gold is the bait-and-switch vehicle. One is that the scammer may tell you about a new mining venture in a particular company or location that represents “the opportunity of a lifetime with no risks.

The gold or precious metals you buy from this mining operation will be the ultimate bargain, according to the scammer, and you’re ROI will be incredible.

This ignores several important facts when offering those pseudo services. One is that the gold industry is carefully regulated—in fact, it’s one of the most carefully scrutinized and monitored investment vehicles in the financial world, and a gold IRA is heavily regulated by the IRS.

Gold IRA Fees, Assets Regulations and Storage Costs

If your potential gold scammer has made it through your initial questions but you still have some doubts, ask this individual about gold IRA fees, regulations and storage costs.

What you’re looking for is simple. Good precious metals brokers know that gold and gold IRAs are highly regulated, and the answer you get should recognize that.

Most of the regulations are based on common sense, so if your broker can’t come up with any of them, that’s a good sign that you may be on the wrong end of one or several gold IRA scams.

If the IRA provider tries to tell you that there are no fees and storage costs for the gold IRA, don’t buy it. Reputable retirement investments and precious metals brokers and companies will tell you about these going in, so you know the storage costs for your gold IRA up front and avoid potential scams. Storage of metals is not free, so follow our advice to not become a victim with your gold IRA.

Disclaimer: you can research this on your own, too. The fees and storage of assets costs are part of the package, and it’s one way to tell the real firms from the approach taken by some of the johnny-come-lately companies that are new to the gold market and provide little value with their gold IRA.

The Silver Scam: Don’t Become a Victim

Many potential precious metals investors are awed by the glamour of investing in gold and precious metals, and gold scammers are well aware of that. One of the most popular of all IRA scams effort in the IRA industry is to take advantage of investors by “throwing in huge amounts of free silver as part of the deal” to make you buy into their gold IRA through other precious metals, advertising relationships with mining companies referrals allowing them to get “deals” on bulk precious metals.

Your eyes should definitely be rolling by now. Yes, the silver market is considered a glamorous place by many investors, and that also means it’s just as carefully regulated. No one is going to “throw in” an amount of silver for nothing, as that would violate enough laws to excite a dozen or so zealous federal regulators.

Similarly, be aware of fake advertising disclosure and special discounts for IRAs or precious metals within a gold IRA. Companies that sell gold IRAs don’t rely on discounts and special deals to make their money. They rely on knowledge of the gold IRA market, experience, and the ability to supply gold IRA investors with solid advice on investments that fit their needs and enhance the quality of their gold IRA portfolios and results.

The Gold IRA Storytelling Tactic

We’ve discussed a number of specific gold and gold IRA scams, so let’s take a step back and talk about some of the things scammers do that run through multiple investment scams.

One of the biggest one is the storytelling tactic. This one works in any number of ways, and one of the most common ones is to describe an “unprecedented” turn of events in the stocks and gold market.

To wit: It crashed unexpectedly just before you were approached, offering opportunities to get in on the ground floor that will never be seen again. Lucky you, right?

Another type of storytelling has to do with the mining companies that dig up the gold. One of them made an unexpected find in a far-flung location, and only the scammer’s company has first access to that gold. You can get in on it, too, if you’re willing to dive in right now and pony up for this great one-time offer.

It’s all ridiculous, of course. Significant shifts in the gold and precious metals market often follow other market trends, and while the gold market does sometimes go in opposite directions, the chances that you’re going to see something historic and unprecedented are slim and none, especially if they pertain to a gold scammer’s deal. Always approach such claims with skepticism and objectivity.

One quick way to spot storytellers in their tracks is to ask to get an offer in writing. If you get push back—“but this offer will expire before I can do that!” is a common one—there’s a very good chance you’re dealing with a gold scammer. This cannot happen with a gold IRA though, as a gold IRA is regulated and takes a bit of time to be set up. This is another gold IRA benefit: you can’t be pressured to buy precious metals within minutes since your gold IRA requires an account and the precious metals to be bought through a certified dealer.

Obfuscation Masquerading Gold and Precious Metals Information

Some gold scammers love to use their knowledge of the gold market and the investment world in general to get would-be investors to take the bait.

How does this work? They’ll use terms like pricing futures, the spot price, lowering the spread and piggybacking on a big trade to lure you in expecting big performance without any penalty.

It may sound impressive, but a lot of these terms are very basic. Doing a few searches and reading some articles from reputable firms links will quickly cut through the financial language fraud, and once you do you’ll be able to see just how laughable most of these scams are.

Another way to prevent this from happening is to talk to a couple of reputable brokers and follow legitimate expert recommendations. They’ll all be speaking the same language, more or less, and most will be more than happy to educate you about any false impressions you might have about possible IRA scams.

The reason they’re doing this is simple—they don’t want gold scammers to take advantage of you any more than you do. They have faith that gold IRAs are a great investment, and the more they can eliminate IRA scams from the gold market, the more they can help you make money with a genuinely great investment.


Gold IRA investments can seem alluring due to the promise of high returns; however, investors should remain wary as gold investments are full of scams and deceitful tactics designed to dupe unknowing people out of money or value they do not expect to lose. Armed with knowledge about IRAs and retirement accounts, and warranty details – “Too good to be true” or ‘caveat emptor”, as investors call it – potential precious metals investors should examine the value of offers with caution and view them with suspicion before proceeding further with them.

It’s crucial to consider various viewpoints and take them with suspicion before proceeding further with them.

Scammers have continually upped their game in recent years by employing cold calls and alluring emails promising guaranteed returns on IRAs, bait-and-switch tactics, baited offers of “free silver” products to interest precious metals investors to gold investments that seem too good to be true. Since gold markets remain one of the most regulated sectors worldwide, investors should educate themselves on IRAs and precious metals, recognize red flags early and validate any offers by conducting thorough research before taking any offers seriously; remember genuine investments like Gold IRA investments are built not on tall tales or hard sell tactics but rather on solid market knowledge, providing advice of value, transparency, commitment to serve investors’ best interests! Due diligence should always be applied when investing any asset class; no exceptions should ever be taken without due diligence being performed and IRA scams being avoided as any investment opportunity that might present itself later down the gold IRA road!

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  • John says:

    Thank you for this article, I’m glad I read this before investing into a gold IRA. Are there companies you would recommend as scam-free?

    • You’re welcome John, and kudos to you for conducting research before investing! Yes, some companies out there are reputable and trustworthy, we cover those in-depth at raremetalblog. Here is a quick list of companies you can trust without a doubt:
      – American Hartford Gold
      – Augusta Precious Metals
      – Goldco
      – Birch Gold Group
      – Advantage Gold

      Happy investing!