HOUSTON—Stocks are down, savings accounts are paying piddling interest and houses are losing value.
In times like these, where can you make money?
Many Houstonians have turned to an unlikely source: coin collecting.
“You know, I think people are looking for different places to put their money besides the bank,” John Duncan of U.S. Coins & Jewelry said.
Coin expert Garth Clark examines thousands of coins every year. Every so often, he finds an old dime worth $700.
“The best way to tell is just by the ‘ting,’” Clark said. “It’s like a treasure hunt.”
John Heckler of Pearland decided to cash in his old coins he’s been collecting for years.
He got $659.41 for his collection.
But when it comes to buying and selling coins, all that glitters may not always be a good deal. In fact, one Houston attorney said sometimes, it can be downright fraudulent.
Jason Gibson said that’s partly because the price of gold and platinum has gone through the roof.
Gold is worth triple what it was a decade ago.
But with other investments, like stocks, doing so badly, telemarketers are peddling gold coins as a great alternative.
The Texas Attorney General said those high-pressure salespeople are targeting senior citizens.
“The problem is not that these coins are fake,” Gibson said. “The problem comes at the price these coins are being sold.”
Some buyers brought the coins they bought over the phone to Houston’s Royal Coin.
“We could have sold them – that same identical item – for 30 to 50 percent less,” Royal Coin’s Sonny Toupard said.
Coin dealers are virtually unregulated.
The good ones advise collectors to check with the Better Business Bureau, then get prices from multiple dealers before buying or selling coins.
And if you get a call from a coin telemarketer, hang up.
In tough times, selling old coins can be a new source of income, but buying them as investments should be calculated with caution.