Fortress Gold Group is a precious metals dealer that was founded in 1995. In 2007, the company became privately held. Now their website states that they will not take on new customers, and prior customers have not received responses from their customer service email. So what happened? Was the company a scam? And what should you do if Fortress Gold Group was your precious metals dealer?
About Fortress Gold Group
There's surprisingly little to learn about Fortress Gold Group. The company was never forthcoming about its ownership, CEO, managing partners, or even its internal structure. There was no information about whether there were different departments, a board of directors, a family ownership, or something else.
That already shows a certain lack of transparency. But there are some precious metals dealers that don't publicize this information, and they still get good customer reviews.
Still, many people do feel more comfortable doing business with a company when they know the name and position of the owner. Fortress Gold Group didn't appear to publicize its management or have a physical address. However, while the company was in operation, they did definitely ship orders and follow through on their agreed-upon terms.
While the company was still in operation, they had several promises that they'd made through their website. These were related to their policies and the ways they wanted to show an advantage over the competition.
Whether they always managed to keep these promises is questionable. But they did have several positive reviews from customers prior to going defunct.
Precious Metals IRAs
One of the services that Fortress Gold Group offered was precious metals IRAs. They helped people to create a new self-directed IRA or roll over one of their existing retirement accounts into a self-directed IRA.
Many precious metals IRA companies handle the account setup process for you. They walk you through the application paperwork, talk to your custodian, get your depository account set up, and then help you finalize your purchases.
It's not clear whether Fortress Gold Group had an in-house team that did this. But it's important to note that every precious metals IRA is overseen and managed by a custodian. Fortress Gold Group was a precious metals dealer, not a licensed custodian.
That means that if you signed up for a precious metals IRA through Fortress Gold Group, you have a different custodian. If you want to find out about your account holdings, you'll need to get in contact with your custodial company directly. You can also choose any other precious metals dealer to make future purchases for your account.
Many precious metals dealers have partnerships with depository companies, and Fortress Gold Group was no different. Whether you had a precious metals IRA or a regular investment portfolio, the company recommended using depository storage to protect your items.
In the case of self-directed IRAs, you are legally obligated to store your items in an IRS-approved depository. It must meet stringent security requirements. You are not allowed to store your IRA precious metals in your home. You are also not allowed to add precious metals that you already own to your IRA.
Fortress Gold Group's main depository partner was Brinks Global Services. This is one of the best known depository companies in the world.
If you made a personal purchase and chose not to store it in a Brinks vault, you could have it shipped to a safety deposit box at your bank, your home address, or any other safe location. Packages would come with full insurance, so you'd have to sign for them when they arrived.
Other Things to Know
The company has been pretty consistent in its lack of transparency. Not only did they not provide any information about who owned and operated the business, but they also didn't explain much about their fees. Their website didn't say how much their prices were marked up, how they calculated their sale prices, or whether there were fees for things like setting up an IRA.
When you work with a precious metals dealer, you want one that will be as transparent as possible. Otherwise, you might get to the end of the transaction and find that you're paying much more than expected.
Similarly, we can't find any information about whether the Fortress Gold Group employees worked on commission.
But with all of that said, there are several reviews from customers that praise the customer service. Just keep in mind that the vast majority of those were left years ago. We're still scratching our heads about what happened between then and now.
For example, one 2017 review on Trustpilot said that the company was extremely professional and great to deal with. This user also named several people, which is significant since that's the only employee information we've been able to uncover.
The customer said that every employee they worked with was extremely professional and pleasant. They said that rolling over their 401(k) funds was simple, and that they would highly recommend the company to anyone who wanted to open a precious metals IRA.
There are also quite a few positive reviews that were posted in 2015. These consistently praise the high quality customer service, ease of use, and overall peace of mind that the customers experienced.
Is Fortress Gold Group a Scam?
Fortress Gold Group does not appear to be a scam. But it is difficult to tell whether the company is still in operation. Their website is technically still active as of writing, but their security registration has expired. That means that their setup might be vulnerable to cyberattacks, and they don't seem interested in renewing the certificate.
That seems to indicate that Fortress Gold Group does not have any intention of coming back anytime soon. Their website does say that they aren't accepting new customers. Old customers are given an email that they can contact if they have questions. But some people have indicated that they haven't received a response to their queries through this email.
It is odd that the company is not giving its customers more information. They also don't seem to have officially declared bankruptcy or said that they're out of business. On paper, they are still operational. But it's impossible to find anyone who was behind the group, especially since they didn't have very transparent information about the owner.
There are plenty of other companies that offer precious metals without suddenly vanishing off the face of the earth. It's a good idea to look for a well-established industry player that has a lot of positive customer feedback. In addition, if Fortress Gold Group was your previous precious metals dealer for your gold IRA, it's a good idea to get in contact with a new dealer ASAP.
The good news is that Fortress Gold Group was just the broker for precious metals, not the custodian of an IRA. So you don't need to worry that your account itself is potentially compromised. You just need a new trustworthy brokerage to help you add to your IRA precious metals holdings in the future.
Pros & Cons of Fortress Gold Group
Fortress Gold Group's existence is a bit of a puzzle. With most precious metals dealers, there is clear information about who operates the company and where they operate from. But that's not the case here. The company has stated they aren't taking new customers and has "ghosted" their old customers. Since there's no information about the owner online, customers aren't sure who to contact.
Now, there's nothing to indicate that Fortress Gold Group was any kind of malicious scam. What's more likely is that the company ran into financial trouble and decided to close the doors rather than try to continue operations. There have never been any allegations of illegal activity or fraud.
But some customers have found themselves feeling betrayed. If you opened an IRA through Fortress Gold Group, you probably planned to keep purchasing precious metals through them until you retired. It's important to get a knowledgeable precious metals IRA dealer to help you make future purchases for your account instead.