BBB Advises: Do Homework Before Cashing in On Gold

  
     
March 01, 2009
Do you have an old gold necklace or bracelet that you haven’t worn for years? And do you have a utility bill or loan payment coming due and you’re wondering how you’re going to pay it?

With gold prices fluctuating between $900 and $1,000 per ounce on any given day, many people are looking at exchanging gold bangles for greenbacks. The plethora of TV and magazine ads and the infinite number of Web sites set up to help make the exchange are a good sign that a lot of consumers are looking for ways to cash in.

While many of these Web sites and businesses are legitimate — some even BBB Accredited Businesses — there are just as many or more that are scams. And before you rush to join the gold for cash frenzy, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with and what you can expect in return.

If you want to sell your gold, it’s important to do your research and request a business reliability report from your BBB at www.wynco.bbb.org.

It’s equally important to know what you’re selling. To get the best price, determine the value of the jewelry as a whole and not just the scrap value of gold. Some estate pieces — your grandmother’s brooch perhaps — might fetch more “as is” than for its gold content alone.

Dental fillings, gold teeth, bridges and crowns are usually 16 karat gold and can be resold as well. Some dental gold contains platinum as a hardening agent, and that boosts the value even more. Gold knickknacks and medallions are candidates for resale, too.

Keep in mind that not all gold is created equal, which is why you first need to know your karats. The Federal Trade Commission requires that jewelry sold in the U.S. describe a karat fineness of the alloy. One karat equals 1/24 of pure gold by weight, which means that 14 karat gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals. Jewelry less than 10 karats cannot be legally sold as “gold jewelry.”

If you’re mailing jewelry pieces, photograph the pieces, including any identifying marks. Make a written list of the items as well and keep one for yourself and put a copy in the envelope. And be sure to insure the items so you can recover the value if they are lost in transit.

Your BBB also suggests that you beware of large “expos” set up by out-of-town businesses to buy old jewelry. Advertisements for these events include a sense of urgency or limited-time offers and claims that they pay the highest available prices. But if you don’t do your homework, how will you know?

And, your BBB advises that consumers should stay away from online scam artists who quote consumers high prices for gold items and then instruct them to send them to an “escrow service” or pay advance fees for the transaction via a money-wire service. Oftentimes these scams are operated overseas and you will never receive payment or be able to retrieve your lost possessions.

Start With Trust. For additional consumer tips, visit  HYPERLINK "http://www.wynco.bbb.org" www.wynco.bbb.org or call 970-484-1348 or 800-564-0371.