Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

September 11, 2012

Consumer Advisory: Consumer encouraged to check for registration & research businesses when selling precious metals

Gold1-366x244 HARRISBURG - Attorney General Linda Kelly urged consumers to check for local registrations and research businesses when considering the sale of gold, silver or other precious metals.

Kelly said the registration requirement is intended to protect consumers who are considering the sale or purchase of jewelry or other items containing precious metals, as well as to assist law enforcement in tracking the resale of stolen items.

"The purchase or sale of precious metals - including jewelry and other family heirlooms - can be a major undertaking for consumers," Kelly said.  "It is essential that consumers understand their rights, research their transactions carefully and conduct their business with dealers who are complying with state laws."

Kelly explained that any individual or business involved in the purchase of gold, silver or platinum from the general public in Pennsylvania - either for resale or for refining - is required to register with the County Sheriff's office in each county where they operate. 

Additionally, precious metals dealers are required to keep accurate and detailed records of their transactions, including information about the seller or buyer, the quantity and type of metal purchased or sold, along with any serial numbers or identifying marks.

Kelly said the law requires precious metals dealers to provide fair and accurate information to consumers - including the public posting of prices for various metals and the use of scales or other measuring devices inspected and certified by municipal or state officials.

Kelly noted that the regulations are also intended to assist law enforcement in tracking items that may have been stolen. 

Dealers are required to report metal purchases to their County District Attorney, or a municipal police department designated by the District Attorney, and to retain those items for at least five working days after the purchase report has been filed. 

Kelly said that dealers are also required to give written notice to law enforcement if they believe an item or precious metal has been stolen, and to make any item available for inspection by law enforcement officials.

In addition, dealers purchasing metal items from minors are also required to receive written authority from a parent or guardian, and to verify that the sale has been authorized by that adult.  Minors are required to wait three full working days before receiving payment from the sale of precious metals.

The purchase or sale of precious metals by unlicensed dealers, or violations of any other sections of the precious metals law, are third-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. 

Kelly noted that the registration requirements and other regulations do not apply to financial institutions that are licensed under state or federal laws, or individuals purchasing precious metals for their personal use (not for resale or refining).

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