So you think you’ve been scammed by a silver or gold scheme

So you think you’ve been scammed by a silver or gold scheme
Image: Bárbara Abbês for Quartz
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Part of our series, Mining for Silver on Facebook

Are you worried that you, or a loved one, have fallen for a precious-metals scam?

Call your state’s securities regulator.

“Call us. Call us now. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Call us immediately.  Don’t delay.  Do it now,” says Joe Rotunda, the enforcement director of Texas’s State Securities Board.  Here’s how.

Find your state securities regulator

The North American Securities Administration Association, a group for state securities regulators, provides a map with contact information for securities regulators in every state plus Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Canada, and Mexico.

These state agencies work to protect consumers from securities fraud—or from people offering investment advice without following the rules.

Call them

Anyone who thinks they might have been scammed “can call any state securities regulator and describe their investment, and the regulator will either field the inquiry or direct them to the most appropriate agency,” Rotunda told Quartz. “We’re very organized and work closely together, and state regulators routinely share information and refer inquiries to take the burden off investors.”

Don’t worry about whether the securities regulator is the right agency for your exact situation.

“We’re designed to interact with individual investors. We’ll do whatever is necessary to appropriately field the complaint or inquiry, point them in the right direction or refer their inquiry to the most appropriate agency,” Rotunda said.

It’s state securities regulators and local authorities who have taken legal action against, not federal authorities.

You can also contact your city’s consumer protection agency, if your city has one. The city attorney’s office in Santa Monica, CA, brought lawsuits against several precious metals companies. The city of Los Angeles is currently suing one for unfair business practices (which the company denied).

Consider hiring an attorney

Rotunda also suggested investors consult with a lawyer and considering suing. The American Bar Association has a online lawyer search tool.

“Many state bars and other organizations may be able to direct investors to competent local counsel for an initial consultation,” Rotunda said. He added that investors, “benefit most when they act quickly, rather than delay their actions.”