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Buyer Beware: Fake Coin & Bullion Websites are on the Rise!

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Buyer Beware: Fake Coin & Bullion Websites are on the Rise!

As members of the largest and most well-respected industry networks, we’re oftentimes privy to information that hasn’t yet made its way to the general public. Even when events in the coin and bullion industry are covered, it’s typically not front-page news and may take a while for the masses to become aware.

One especially concerning trend we’re seeing in the industry is fake coin and bullion websites advertising coins and

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bullion at a fraction of the market price. These sites appear to be legitimate on the surface, and in two recent cases, are copies or knockoffs of the U.S. Mint and SD Bullion websites. We’re not going to help these scammers by providing backlinks to their websites but can tell you that the quality of the sites is better than most.

These fake websites are being promoted on social media, and in some cases, include videos advertising rock bottom prices on coins and bullion. This is a warning for fans of social media. If you see a Facebook or Instagram advertisement, video, or reel promoting products at well below market rates, there’s a high likelihood that these are fake sites and/or that they’re selling counterfeit items.

 

How can you avoid becoming a victim of these scammers?

 

Missing or Incorrect Website Info

After you click on a link and are taken to a website, browse the site to see if anything is amiss. Fake websites typically aren’t perfect, so there’s bound to be something that will tip you off that this may not be a legitimate company or website.

While it may not be 100% accurate, there is a nice tool to check in addition to some of the suggestions/recommendations we’ll address in this article. The website and tool, “Whois“, is a domain lookup tool. You enter the main web address of the site that you are looking into and it will tell you where the site is located out of, when it was created, and other relevant information.

Young websites with a registration of a year or less are usually scams, as well as, websites hosted, registered, or located outside of the United States. Again this tool is not going to be 100% fail safe, but it will give you some insight that can be valuable when making your decision. Click HERE to view our Whois data as an example. 

 

Misleading Web Address and/or Company Name

Check the website name. In many cases, it’s similar to the official website of the company or entity. For example, the counterfeit U.S. Mint and SD Bullion websites had website addresses that are fairly close to the originals. In the case of the U.S. Mint website, the website address ended in .com. Considering that the U.S. Mint is a government entity, the official website ends in .gov. 

While not always the case, most legitimate company websites end in .com or .net, so if the website you’re on ends in .co, .info, .bz, .tv, etc., it may be worth researching further. Furthermore, if the website address ends in a different country code, such as .fr, .au.uk, .ca, or .uk, it could be a scam, unless you live in that particular country.

fake gold bullion sites AGCB - red flag

 

Legitimate Companies Answer the Phone and Know Their Industry

If you’re on a website and you’re not certain if it’s legitimate or not, look for a phone number and give them a call. If the website doesn’t have a contact number, then it may be fraudulent company. Also, if they have a number and you speak with a representative, they should be well informed on their industry and products. 

It’s possible that you may be speaking with a receptionist, so don’t be too quick to discount the company. However, if they refer you to one of their traders and the sales person isn’t familiar with their products or pricing, then they may not be a legitimate company. Also be careful for companies that push for your personal information or credit card number. As a former victim of identify fraud, I can tell you that it make take years to unwind the damage done by a fraudster.

 

Verify the Website by Opening A New Browser

Another way to verify if a website is legitimate or not is by opening another window on your internet browser. Type the name of the company in the search engine. Compare this website address to the one you were originally directed to. Does the same website address come up? If not, then you may be on a counterfeit site. While you’re at it, type in the name of the suspicious website into your search engine to see if there are any complaints or warnings from individuals that have been scammed in the past.

 

Third Party Sites 

Check the company out on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. You’ll see if there are any recent complaints from the public about the company or reports of a possible scam. The BBB should also have the correct website address for the company, so check that and compare it to the website you’re on to confirm that they match.AGCB BBB Profile

Last, but not least, check to see if the company has a Google Business profile page. There should be a history of long standing operations, such as reviews from previous years, and the website link from the Google profile page should bring you to the same website address you originally came across. These days, it’s much more difficult to set up a business page through Google, as they have additional checks and balances that they didn’t have in years past.

Searching the company on Google Maps can also show even more company info than the usual Google Search Result page. 

 

Summary

If after all this, you’re still not convinced that the company or website is legitimate, reach out to your local coin dealer, schedule an appointment and do business in person. While you’re not always guaranteed the lowest rates in the nation, your local coin dealer should be reasonably competitive and can provide you with insight on the market, products and economy that you’re not going to get from an online dealer.

Whether you choose to do business online, through the mail or in person, Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers can help. Unlike some of the fly-by-night companies you’ll find online, we’ve been in business for 14 years and have established ourselves as the leading coin dealer in metro Atlanta & beyond, Contact us today to see how we differ from the competition and allow us to help you reach your coin & bullion goals.

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Tony Davis
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation, and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at atlantagoldandcoin.com to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at sales@atlantagoldandcoin.com or at 404-236-9744

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