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DLLR's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing

 

Secondhand Precious Metal Object Dealer/Pawnbroker Act Compliance Advisory - Maryland Licensing of Secondhand Precious Metal Objects Dealers & Pawnbrokers

 

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March 4, 2014

Home "Gold" Parties
This Compliance Advisory supersedes previous Compliance Advisory dated July 29, 2011.

Who must be licensed?

The Secondhand Precious Metal Object Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act, Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, Title 12, requires any individual or organization that buys, sells or otherwise trades commercially with the public items that are composed of gold, silver, platinum, iridium and palladium to be licensed. Bus. Reg. Art., § 12-101(1)(b)(1)(i). Further, an individual or organization that arranges to sell a secondhand precious metal object for compensation on behalf of someone who is not licensed is "acting as a dealer," and is, therefore, required to obtain a license. Bus. Reg. Art., § 12-101(b)(1)(ii). An individual who engages in pawn transactions of other tangible property in addition to secondhand precious metal objects is required to be licensed. Unless a local jurisdiction regulates pawnbrokers (not with regard to zoning, but rather, issues a local license authorizing the holder to engage in pawn transactions), a pawnbroker must hold a license issued by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation ("DLLR") before engaging in such a transaction.

Common examples of individuals who acquire secondhand precious metal objects and who are required to be licensed are: jewelers, antique dealers, consignment store owners, auctioneers, and an individual, business or organization that that facilitates the sale of secondhand precious metal objects for compensation. Other examples of individuals or companies that arrange or otherwise facilitate the sale of secondhand precious metal objects include: E-bay trading posts, internet trading sites or companies; individuals who, in any way, organize, for compensation, an event designed to facilitate the sale of precious metal items for others; and a person who may act as an agent on behalf of another individual who desires to sell precious metal objects.

Are "Parties" in a Private Homes, Hotel or Fundraising Events Permitted?

No. Since 2010, the law has prohibited the purchase of secondhand precious metal objects at private homes, hospitals, schools, places of worship, or at any location other than at the business address of a licensed dealer that appears on a dealer's license. Purchases of secondhand precious metal objects are permitted at judicial or estate sales, and at the residence of an owner of a precious metal object. It must be emphasized that the law permits the purchase at a private home of secondhand precious metal objects only exclusively owned by the resident owner. Purchases from guests or other individuals who do not reside in the home are prohibited. Bus. Reg. Art., § 12-206.

Are Appraisal Parties or Events Permitted?

Under very limited conditions, an event may be hosted at which individuals are invited to have a secondhand precious metal object that he or she owns appraised by a licensed dealer which may result in the dealer acquiring the object at a later time at the dealer's place of business. An item cannot be purchased at the location of the appraisal. However, if it is later transported to the dealer's place of business by the host or an agent of the owner of the object, the transaction may be completed at the dealer's place of business. Caution: The licensed dealer is required to obtain and record personal information regarding the owner/seller of the secondhand precious metal object at the time of the appraisal if the owner/seller is not physically present during the transaction through which the dealer acquires the object at the dealer's business location. Bus. Reg. Art., §§ 12-301 and 12-302.

The host or facilitator of such an event may not receive a commission or compensation of any kind for arranging the "appraisal event" or subsequent acquisition of appraised objects by a licensed dealer. This includes any payment or compensation of a particular amount or a percentage of the value or the number of objects referred to the dealer as a result of the appraisal. To accept compensation of any kind would constitute "acting as a dealer," for arranging a sale without a dealer's license required in compliance with under § 12-206 of the Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland. Such a violation may be prosecuted criminally, punishable by imprisonment for up to two (2) years, a $10,000 fine, or both, and may also be handled administratively for which a civil monetary penalty of $5,000 for each violation may be imposed. Bus. Reg. Art., § 12-502.

Implications for the Host

The host of an event at which a licensed dealer may appraise or otherwise offer a value for the subsequent acquisition by the licensed dealer of a secondhand precious metal object owned by another individual may be in violation of Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, Title 12 if the individual is offered or receives compensation for arranging for the sale of a precious metal object on behalf of another person. Such conduct meets the definition of "dealer" under §12-101(b)(1)(ii) for which a licensed must first be obtained from DLLR.

Implications for the Agent

An agent may be in violation of Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, Title 12, whether the agent is the host of the "appraisal event" or the agent is another individual designated to act on behalf of the owner/seller of a secondhand precious metal object after an "appraisal event" if the agent meets the definition of "dealer" as defined in §12-101(b)(1)(ii) for which a licensed must first be obtained from DLLR.

Implications for the Dealer

The Dealer, by entering into an agreement to compensate a host or an agent for any secondhand precious metal object that the host or agent has arranged for the dealer to appraise that is ultimately acquired by the dealer, may have violated Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, §12-207(f) by allowing another person to benefit as a result of the dealer's license. A secondhand precious metal object dealer's license is not transferable and, accordingly, may be used only for the benefit the licensee.

SUMMARY OF DISCUSSION OF HOME "GOLD" PARTIES

The acquisition of a secondhand precious metal object by a dealer outside of the dealer's approved business location is permissible only at an estate or judicial sale or at the home of an owner of a secondhand precious metal object and at the request of the owner, as set forth in Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, § 12-206(b). At no time may a transaction occur at a private residence in which a licensed dealer or a dealer's employee acquires a secondhand precious metal object owned by a person who is not a resident of the home. A transaction with any person who does not reside at the location is prohibited. Any other acquisition by a dealer that occurs outside of a licensed dealer's place of business is prohibited. § 12-206(a).

The appraisal of a secondhand precious metal object that is subsequently sold or otherwise acquired by a licensed dealer may be permitted under limited circumstances. As stated above, no transaction may occur at a private residence in which a licensed dealer or a dealer's employee acquires a secondhand precious metal object owned by a person who is not a resident of the home. A transaction with any person who does not reside at the location is prohibited. A secondhand precious metal object owned by a non-resident at a private residence or other "appraisal event" may be appraised, but not sold or otherwise given or entrusted to the dealer outside of the business location of the dealer.

Neither a resident of private home nor host of an event, at which a secondhand precious metal object has been appraised, may receive compensation from the dealer for arranging for the appraisal or subsequent sale to or acquisition by the dealer of a secondhand precious metal object not owned by that individual. Any compensation paid to a host of an "appraisal event" must be based exclusively on the value of a secondhand precious metal object that is personally owned by the host. No individual may be designated an agent for a person whose secondhand precious metal object was appraised by a licensed dealer, for the purpose of transporting the appraised item(s) to the dealer's place of business for sale or other acquisition by the licensed dealer in return for compensation for doing so.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE

The purchase or acquisition of a secondhand precious metal object at a location other than the business location that is indicated on the dealer's license is limited to estate or judicial sales and at the residence of the owner of secondhand precious metal object at the owner's request. The dealer is required to submit advanced written notice of an authorized proposed transaction that may occur away from the dealer's business location, to the local police department in the jurisdiction where the proposed transaction is to occur. Authorized transactions that occur at locations other than at the business location of the dealer must be reported by 12 NOON the next business day to both the local law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction of the dealer's business address and the jurisdiction of the location where the transactions occurred. Bus. Reg. Art., § 12-304.