HOUSTON—With the current economic slump, many people trying to save money for retirement are looking for ways to make some new income.
Stocks are down, savings accounts are paying piddling interests and homes are losing value.
In times like these, where can you make money?
“You know, I think people are looking for different places to put their money besides the bank,” John Duncan, with the U.S. Coins & Jewelry, said.
And what about looking at your spare change?
“These dimes have silver in them,” coin expert Garth Clark said. “The best way to tell is just by the ting. It’s like a treasure hunt.”
Clark examines thousands of coins a year.
“Bam, yeah, a $700 dime, you go ‘wow’!” he said.
Among his discoveries are an old dime now worth $700 and a 1907 $2 gold coin which is estimated at $2,600.
“I know I’ll get more than what I paid for them,” customer John Heckler said.
Heckler, who lives in Pearland, decided to cash in old coins he has been collecting for years. He got $659.41.
“Well actually, I didn’t think it would be that much! “ Heckler said.
But when it comes to buying and selling coins, all that glitters may not always be a good deal.
At least one Houston attorney says sometimes it can be downright fraudulent.
Houston attorney Jason Gibson says this is happening because gold and platinum prices have gone through the roof.
Gold is now 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.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says high-pressure sales people are targeting senior citizens.
Gibson has sued dealers in Beaumont and Austin.
“The problem is not that these coins are fake,” said Gibson. “The problem comes at the price these coins are being sold.”
Gibson says they are being sold for more than they are worth.
Some buyers brought the coins they purchased over the phone to a Houston coin shop to find out how much they actually overpaid.
“We could have sold them that same identical item for 30 to 50 percent less,” Sonny Toupard, with Royal Coin, said.
Coin dealers are virtually unregulated, so the good ones say you should first check with the Better Business Bureau. They recommend you then get prices from multiple dealers before you buy or sell coins.
So if you get a call from a coin telemarketer, beware.
While selling old coins can be a new source of income, buying them as investments should be calculated with caution.