Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have urged Scots to beware companies who buy their ‘unwanted’ gold, after receiving evidence that some of these traders are exploiting customers.
CAS Head of Policy Susan McPhee says:
“Over the last few years we’ve all seen the growth of these companies who offer you cash in return for your unwanted gold trinkets. There are lots of these companies now, advertising on TV, online and by direct mail. Many of them are offering a fair legitimate service, and for people who need to get their hands on cash quickly it can seem like a very enticing option.
“Unfortunately, we have seen a number of cases recently which show that some of the companies are in fact scamming their customers – either by under-paying them or by imposing hidden fees, and in some cases simply taking the gold and refusing to pay any money at all.
“The recession has left many people financially struggling. CAB advisers spend a lot of their time now offering money advice to people who are really finding it hard to make ends meet. Such people are vulnerable to this kind of exploitation, and it’s sad that some traders are prepared to take advantage of that and profit from it. These gold cases are just one example of this, and its important that people remain vigilant against them, and indeed against any sort of scam.
“We would urge everyone to be very careful about deals which seem to be too good to be true. As with any transaction, you should always make sure you know exactly who you are dealing with and what the terms and conditions are. We have 5 very simple tips to help beat the scammers – and we re-publish these today.
“The key is to be sceptical, read the small print, protect your information and always come forward and report the scam so that those responsible can be investigated and prevented from exploiting others.”
For CAS interviews, please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 751655.
See below some recent case examples of ‘Cash for Gold’ scams received by the Scottish CAB service.
The Client undertook a gold exchange online The client described the goods and sent a photo of them. The trader offered a good price; the client accepted this and sent the gold away. On receiving the goods the trader then offered a much lower price than had been originally mentioned. The client refused and asked for the goods back. The trader now wants to charge £50 to return the goods.
The client sent the gold to the trader to have it valued, but received no response. After a few days the client phoned the trader to enquire about this, and the trader said they’d made a payment of £76 into the client’s account. However, the trader had not made this offer, and no sale was agreed - they just took the goods and put the money into the client’s account. The client knows the gold is worth more than double that figure. The trader has refused to assist.
The Client sent her gold to the trader, who gave her a price which was agreed. The trader said they would keep the gold on as a pawn for 7 months and if the price had gone up at end they would give the client the difference. The client read the documents when she went home, and found that these stated terms which were different to what was verbally told. The client then wanted to cancel the transaction, and the trader advised the client of a £90 cancellation fee.
The client sent their gold to the trader as agreed, but the trader did not respond. After a few weeks of being unable to contact the trader, the client finally did manage to make contact by telephone and was told that the item has not been delivered and was presumably ‘lost in the post’ (even though it had been set by recorded delivery and the client knows it was received). The client has since been unable to contact the trader again – letters are now being returned un-opened.
OUR TOP 5 ANTI-SCAM TIPS (These apply to scams in general, not just gold-buyers).
Be sceptical, and Take Your Time! Beware of extravagant promises. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Don’t be afraid to bin it, delete it or hang up! Even if you are interested in an offer and it seems OK, make sure you take your time to read the terms of the deal. Scammers don’t like to give you time to think – they’ll try to pressure you into making a decision. e.g. by telling you that if you don’t act now, you’ll miss out. Resist any pressure to make a decision right away. Read the terms and conditions carefully so you know what you are getting into, and consider taking advice or shopping around for a better deal.
Know who you’re dealing with. Always check the organisation which is making the offer. If you’re contacted out of the blue by someone you’ve never heard of, that’s often a clear warning sign that it’s a scam. And don’t be fooled by official-looking websites and marketing materials. Scammers are very good at looking authentic. e.g. we’ve recently seen a few scammers who are pretending to be CABs, with similar logos and branding to ours. Always check!
Protect your financial information. Never give out your bank details and password to someone you don’t know. Trustworthy organisations will never contact you out of the blue to ask for this sort of information.
Cut Junk Mail. You can take some very simple steps to cut the amount of junk mail you receive by post, phone and email. Simply contact these websites, enter your details and you will be removed from the lists of all traders. It’s free and only takes a few minutes to do this.
telephone - http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/index.html
postal mail - http://www.mpsonline.org.uk/mpsr/.
NB Ask your friends and family if they’d like you to do this on their behalf – particularly those who don’t use the internet themselves.
Always Report Scams, to Stop Them Scamming Other People! Did you know that less than five per cent of scam victims actually report their experience to the authorities? Its no wonder there are so many scams around – they feel completely safe to keep trying! Please help to stop them by reporting any scam you know about. The best way to do this is to contact the Trading Standards office at your local Council. Details can be found in your local phone book, or at http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/advice/index.cfm