Since there is a forum here entitled "Gold and Silver Dealer Reviews" and there is a discrete chance that someone brand new to metals will google by and read the posts on this forum looking for information on how to buy metals, we might as well have a few posts listing the "fool proof" methods of buying gold or silver.
They just might see some add on cable TV and call someone to get their free 'Gold Investor Kit" and end up with a significant portion of their life savings invested in MS65 1923 nickels or $700 slabbed Morgans or somesuch.
We already have a post on Provident but, for metals newby's public consumption, we need to say that APMEX is also a safe and reliable method to buy metals and no one will try to take advantage of you.
Buy metals at close to spot and don't ever buy collectables that you don't understand. There was a local shop that I used to buy a bunch from but 90+ of everything I've bought came from Apmex or Provident.
Couple of times from Gainesville Coin with no problems.
Oh yeah, anyone remember that Texas woman dealer who was the sweetheart of GIM back around 2006-2008? A bunch of us used to buy from her. Never had a problem with her and she went out of her way a few times to hunt stuff down for me. I remember asking for her to hunt down every Lunar Series 1 Dragon she could find. She flat came through when I couldn't find any at the regular online places.
two dragons by Tom, on Flickr