Thompson said enforcement has gone up under the administration of Gov. John Kasich, a phenomenon he attributed to increased lobbying and campaign contributions by pawnbrokers not covered in the law.

Commerce Department spokeswoman Lyn Tolan said there has been no policy decision to step up enforcement.

"Activity began to rise in 2008. It's hard to blame John Kasich for something that happened before he took office," she said. "So what is it that changed in 2008? Prices of gold started to dramatically increase and more people started to hang out a sign: 'We Buy Gold' â¿¿ unconventional places like gas stations and convenience stores."

State Commerce Director David Goodman urged consumers to be careful as the state weighs its legal options.

"Our concern is for the protection of the consumer," he said in a statement. "Until we determine what comes next, someone who is considering selling gold or silver needs to be as vigilant as ever."

He urged consumers to take these steps:

â¿¿ Obtain estimates from three businesses, preferably in the same day, before you sell;

â¿¿ Ask each business for the weight they calculated of your precious metal;

â¿¿ Do business locally. Never mail gold items off for evaluation or analysis.

The value of gold and silver fluctuates. Gold closed Wednesday at $1,692.40 per ounce. Gold prices peaked at $1,889.00 per ounce in July 2011. Gold is up 113 percent over the past five years and nearly 425 percent over 10 years.

The price of silver peaked at $48.58 per ounce in May 2011 but is up 130 percent over the last five years and up 613 percent over 10 years, the department said.

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