I am new to gold/silver investing. I can see there is a dollar crisis looming, and wanted to roll a large portion of my IRA into a self-directed IRA and buy physical gold. So I researched precious metals dealers online, and found Goldco was very highly rated. (These ratings are paid-for and/or vetted, I would come to find later.) Goldco rep David Taylor was extremely helpful and responsive, answered all my questions, assured me that Goldco markups were some of the lowest in the industry (7-21%), and sent me the paperwork to set up an account with a trustee/custodian to handle the SDIRA rollover. We agreed that silver coins made the most sense for me, and I placed an order for American Eagle proof coins from the Perth mint. THEN I GOT THE ORDER CONFIRMATION:
Silver American Bald Eagle - 1oz Qty 667 $74.90
What the heck did I just buy? The spot for silver that day was ~$26.50; this price was nearly triple! I was shocked. Further research confirmed that these are just 1 ounce silver proof coins, worth about $48 retail. They are collectible, premium coins, such as you might buy as a graduation gift. But if you took this same coin to a gold/silver coin dealer, you'd be lucky to get $40. (As of this writing.) But Goldco insists they're worth $75! Nonsense. This is robbery!
Do your homework. Call some dealers. A good place to start might be https://apmddealers.org . You will find that many of these coin dealers are routinely confronted by disillusioned Goldco's (and other, similar predatory dealers') customers whom have spent their retirement money buying expensive collectible coins, only to be informed by honest dealers that their "premium" coins are worth 50% what they paid for them. To keep novice investors in the dark, Goldco appears to have "exclusive" deals with the Perth Mint on whatever flavor-of-the-month coin design they are peddling. This prevents Joe Consumer from comparison shopping. Because there are no direct price comps, Goldco is able to claim their coins are premium, limited edition, super high value. Even up to $75/oz. They are not. But it's tough to disprove when no other dealer has the exact same coin because of Goldco's "exclusive." I believe Goldco's markup on these coins they sold me was in the ballpark of 100%. This is robbery. For example, the coins I purchased were "1 oz silver American Bald Eagle 2020 reverse proof" coins from the Perth Mint, with a bald eagle on one side and Queen Elizabeth II (?) on the other. Just try to find that exact coin anywhere else but Goldco. Go ahead, I'll wait...
If you want to invest in gold/silver, it's probably because you understand that there is intrinsic value in the metal itself. What you need is bullion or bulk, investment grade coins, and you want to pay as little over spot price as possible. Collectible proof coins are for birthday and graduation gifts, in fancy packaging with certificates of authenticity. Buying hundreds or thousands of these at retail (or worse) price is NOT a wise investment strategy. Silver/gold prices would have to double or triple before you break even.
So, in summary:
PROS: Stellar customer service. Ranked the #1 or #2 coin dealer by multiple "independent" ranking websites Responsive and helpful. Website is helpful and well done! Ordering process was easy! Provided all the paperwork to set up custodian and depository. Answered all my newbie questions.
Five Star reviews on all the 'rating' sites
Sold me the wrong product, at HUGE markup. My retirement savings would have taken a $25, 000 loss the instant the sale closed.
"Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"
I was lucky. Before the transaction cleared my IRA custodian account, I was able to intercept and remove Goldco as an authorized dealer, which probably saved me from the consequences of my $25, 000 mistake. On a related note, as I write this, Goldco is actively trying to get the Better Business Bureau of San Jose to remove my review from the BBB website because "the review is not from a customer of the business." I have my order confirmation showing that yes, indeed, I ordered $50, 000 in coins from Goldco. They are not an ethical company, fibbing to the BBB to scrub legitimate negative reviews. Keep that in mind as you read all the glowing, five-star reviews on those "independent" review websites.
Goldco preys on first time gold/silver investors, moving them overpriced coins far above any realistic resale value, while claiming modest margins of 7-21%. I came to Goldco because of 5-star ratings on an (ostensibly "independent") review website, seeking to establish a self-directed IRA and buy physical gold and/or silver.
My sales rep, David Taylor, suggested premium, collectible silver "proof" coins. It wasn't until I got my order confirmation that I saw their price, which seemed exorbitant - nearly $50/oz above the silver spot price! (I was expecting something closer to $10-15 over spot, but I was never offered a price quote.) Afraid I had been grossly overcharged, I immediately began researching the value of these coins, and I couldn't find ANY exact price comparisons. (It appears Goldco has an "exclusive" with the Perth Mint, which makes it nigh impossible to do any price comparisons, allowing Goldco to protect their high margins.) Another dealer was kind enough to share with me two current price sheets from US wholesalers offering the same proof coin --- American Bald Eagle 2020 reverse proof, except but from the US Mint (West Point) --- between $43-$48.
For quantity one! Meanwhile, Goldco sold me their coins at $74.90/ea, for quantity 667. Given their volume, I suspect their markup on a sale like this close to 100%, or 50% margin. This is unconscionable.
During my research, another metals dealer confided to me that he regularly has clients bring him the metals purchased from predatory dealers (including Goldco), and that he has to break the news that they are worth a small fraction of what they paid.
Fortunately for me, I was able to reach my IRA custodian and cancel the transaction prior to my life savings being pilfered by these predators. I put a hold on my account, and removed Goldco's authorization to place orders. I emailed Goldco to let them know that my order was on hold until I became more comfortable with the purchase. But the more research I did, the more I realized Goldco was taking advantage of my naivety as a metals investor.
They had taken advantage of my trust, and there's no way I was going to do business with them.
Fast forward a few days. By this time I am relieved but still angry, and I left a negative review with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB posted it, along with a short rebuttal from Goldco. Next thing you know I began to receive text messages and calls from Goldco wanting to "clear the air, " but with the obvious aim of talking me out of my review.
Remaining convinced about the character of their business, I refused. The very next evening I received an email from the San Jose BBB, informing me that my review is being removed from their site (!) because "the review is not from a customer of the business." !?! WHAT?! But I certainly was.
Goldco lied to the BBB to attempt to scrub the BBB site of any negative reviews. This is wrong. I appealed this determination of the San Jose BBB, sending them a copy of my sales order confirmation from Goldco. I have not heard a determination, but it has only been a little over 36 hours as of this moment.
If the BBB is conscientious about their mission, they'll leave my review up. (Right now it's still pulled.) However, Goldco is a paying BBB client -- and I'm just a stranger to them. So I'm not optimistic.
It should be noted that I have no evidence of any illegal activity or fraud, nor is there any breach of contract. What I am alleging here is merely a huge breach of trust, unconscionable gain, and predatory sales practices.
My desire is simply to warn other investors before they trust this company with their retirement savings.
One truly evil part of this model is Goldco knows that most of their buyers will not find out they overpaid until years down the road, when they retire and start taking in-kind distributions, or selling. Silver would have to double or triple just to break even, at Goldco's prices.
Another sales pitch that sounded fishy to me is the tax advantages. Goldco rep David Taylor assured me that in-kind distributions would be taxed at the spot price of silver, so I would not be taxed on the total "value" of the coin. I don't know if that's true.
However, one thing that I KNOW is true is that my 401K investment account will suffer a MASSIVE loss the same day I buy Goldco's overpriced, collectible coins. This would significantly reduce my income when I retire and start taking distributions, so...I would pay less income tax. Thanks?
Bottom line...run away! Look elsewhere to invest in gold/silver
If you're new to gold/silver investing and want to add physical gold/silver to your IRA, try this site instead:
apmddealers dot org
The Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) maintains a list of accredited dealers, who hold to a strict code of ethics.
It may be a good place to look for a precious metals dealer who won't take you to the cleaners.
Here's a quote from the PNG:
"The personal finance market is filled with slick advertisements touting gold bullion coins labeled with a superb grade or in holders with decorative, autographed inserts. These may be fine collectibles for some, but you could pay more than twice the value of the precious metal content of the coin. There certainly are better ways for investors to buy bullion coins much closer to their actual intrinsic value, " Barry Stuppler, president of the Professional Numismatists Guild
Here's a quote from the website of the dealer that I decided to work with:
"We have spent years consoling clients that found us AFTER they funded their gold IRA.
Many of them had fallen victim to the most common Gold IRA Review Scam in the market, believing that they had found credible Gold IRA review sites, only to find that these reviews were empty copied content from a gold dealer, by people who have never owned a precious metals IRA. Worse yet, they often found that they landed with a dealer that sold them overpriced gold and silver for their precious metals IRA, the very dealer that was rated #1 in the 'reviews'."