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United Gold Direct is one of the dozens of precious metals dealers who offer their products online. But are they legitimate? What concerns should you have before investing? What services do they offer, and do they beat the competition?
We've taken a look at everything you need to know when deciding where to invest in precious metals.
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About United Gold Direct
United Gold Direct is a company that serves people in every state in the US. They aim to be an industry leader with regards to precious metals. Their corporate office is headquartered in California, and the company hearkens back to the Gold Rush when they talk about why they've chosen their place of business.
When you call the company, you get a chance to talk to a customer service agent about investing. They will explain the benefits of investing in precious metals, as well as some reasons why the market is ideal right now. If you have an IRA custodian already, it usually takes just one to three weeks.
When you set up your account, the company takes care of your paperwork in-house. They'll work with your custodian and the IRS to streamline the entire process.
You'll then be able to access your portfolio online to see the value of your investments in real time. At the end of each quarter, you'll get a report on your holdings. You can call the company's customer service number to get quick, personalized answers to your questions as well.
The company has been in business since 1996, though it has only been operating under this name since 2009. They don't use pushy investment tactics. However, their agents might tell you that you should be wary of the news, particularly considering the economic crashes of late.
When you make a purchase with the company, you'll be told what you're paying up front. You don't have to worry about hidden fees.
None of the employees work on commission. Instead, they work on salary. That means that they don't feel any pressure to upsell you on investments you don't want. They're free to work with you to get you the investment portfolio that works best for you.
There are only three licensed wholesalers in the US, and United Gold Direct is one of them. They can keep their prices low because of their low operating costs. These costs are also kept low due to their lack of advertisements. They depend upon referrals for business.
Even so, you can find some advertisements for the company with search engines like Google. In addition, the company has been caught using client funds to pay for their overhead. This raises some questions about the validity of their claims.
If you're not sure what a business is doing with its money, it's hard to trust that they have your best interests at heart.
Fees for a Gold IRA
If you make an independent purchase for your personal portfolio, you don't need to worry about any fees. But if you're setting up a gold IRA, you'll need to pay certain fees for account setup, ongoing maintenance, and ongoing storage.
The initial setup fees tend to be about 75 dollars, though they might be more depending on how much you invest. You'll also pay 95 dollars in administration fees annually for maintenance. Storage is billed annually on a scale ranging from 100 to 250 dollars. You'll pay more when your vault becomes fuller.
You do need to make a minimum purchase of 5,000 dollars if you want to set up a gold IRA. The company usually works with Delaware Depository, an IRS-approved depository located in Delaware. This depository also has some state tax advantages that can protect your wealth over time.
Is United Gold Direct a Scam?
United Gold Direct is a legitimate company. However, they have several serious customer complaints on the internet, and they are not accredited with the Better Business Bureau.
To make matters worse, there is also litigation against them. As of August 12, 2020, California issued a consent order about the company. The Department of Business Oversight says that the company sold items worth about 45,000 dollars to three different people. But the company then used the client funds to pay unrelated business expenses.
These are violations of the use of the capital. The company has been ordered to stop using client funds to further their business agenda. The company has also agreed that they will refund the 45,000 dollars to the respective clients when they can.
Most legitimate gold dealerships don't have pending litigation against them. This government action points to a pattern of mismanagement. If they were misusing the funds of other clients, how can you be sure they won't misuse yours?
Because of this, and because of the extremely negative customer reviews, we have to warn people away from this service. It's not the best one to use to purchase precious metals.
On the BBB website, there's just one consumer review. The customer gives the company 1 out of 5 stars. He says he's totally unsatisfied with his experience because the company won't help him get his money back.
The customer stated that he removed gold from his IRA due to a family emergency. Despite this, several weeks went by without any of his money being paid to him. He should have seen his money returned much sooner than that. Because of the company's negligence and mismanagement, he accrued several thousand dollars in delayed payments and late fees regarding his emergency.
The customer said that the need for the money was immediate because he had a special needs child who needed additional resources. Because of this, transfers were meant to be done digitally, without any checks. The customer had such a hard time that they felt the incompetence might have been malicious.
The customer did note that the service team they spoke to was always very pleasant. However, no one made an effort to expedite his payment. As of when he finished writing the review, he had still not received his money.
Ripoff Report has been subject to a few complaints as well. There are four different reports on the website, although two of them appear to be written by the same person.
One of the complaints states that the person paid for precious metals but never received their purchase. They paid 37 dollars for a purchase of silver, which turned out to be marked up to nearly 70 percent more than a wholesale competitor.
This customer heard about the company through a coworker. When they called the company, they ordered some gold and had it shipped to them. The company said it would take several weeks.
Once several weeks went by, the customer began to call the company asking for information about the package. Their dedicated customer service representative refused to call them back. The customer then wanted to cancel the order, but their representative said that this wait time is common.
The customer tried to complain to the Better Business Bureau, only to discover that the company was not accredited with them. They then did research into company owner Adam Blaser and found that he's ripped customers off in the past.
They were told that there were no refunds available. When they tried to contact Adam Blaser, he just said the order was still being processed. The customer then called to complain with California itself, and they were told that California has received numerous complaints regarding the company.
United Gold Direct told the customer that the shipment delay was because they were having trouble securing the gold. But when the person called several of the company's competitors, none of them were having problems with getting gold shipments. So the customer believes this was just an excuse.
Positive Customer Reviews
There are some positive customer reviews to offset the negative ones. There's only the one scathing review on the BBB website, but Trustlink has access to 21 reviews. The majority of them have five stars.
One customer noted that the purchase and transfer process was extremely easy. The customer service team helped them understand the process and choose the best investments for them.
Another customer stated that they came to the company with a lot of questions. Each question was patiently answered by a customer service representative. The customer was able to move some assets into their IRA for tax advantages.
Many other customers have stated that they were happy with the polite and professional customer service. In addition, some people noted that they were happy about the pricing for their orders, as it was lower than what they found with other brokerages.
Even the negative review posted on the BBB did note that the company has stellar customer service. So it has that going for it, at least.
Pros & Cons of United Gold Direct
United Gold Direct is a legitimate business that does sell precious metals. But they lack transparency and seem to outright lie about some of their business practices. For example, they claim not to have an advertising budget, but you can find advertisements through a Google search.
In addition, the company has been cited by the state of California for misusing funds. They spent 45,000 dollars of client money to pay for overhead operating costs. This issue has been recorded on their Better Business Bureau page.
On top of that, the company has several concerning reviews. One disgruntled person on the BBB page stated that they purposefully withheld funds from him. There are also three different Ripoff Reports related to the company's practices.
For these reasons, we don't find this a totally trustworthy company to do business with. We'd recommend working with a more specialized gold IRA company that has credible consumer reviews.
We don't think that United Gold Direct is a HORRIBLE company, but we believe that there are better companies out there to make your investment with.
Or you can get a free precious metals investment kit from our #1 recommended company right now!
Or, continue with United Gold Direct...