The mere idea that there are people who would take advantage of a mourning family is enough to make most people sick. Unfortunately, cemetery and funeral home fraud are increasingly common. No matter where in the country you live, there’s a good chance that you’ve turned on the local news in the last year, only to hear about families learning that their loved one’s prepaid burial arrangements turned out to be a scam — or worse, that a funeral home or cemetery mistreated their loved one’s remains.
The problem has become so prevalent that the FBI has dedicated an entire page of its website to tips designed to protect consumers. Some of these include:
- Learn about caskets before purchasing one and be aware that you do not need a casket for a direct cremation.
- Know the difference between fees for professional services and those that are for additional services.
- Inform yourself of your state’s rules about embalming, including knowing that you do not need one for a direct cremation.
- Read all contracts carefully before signing, and make sure everything you’ve agreed to is in writing.
- Do not let yourself be pressured into any purchases or into signing any contracts and think twice before prepaying for services.
One of the most important things that consumers need to know to avoid being a victim of funeral home fraud is that funeral homes are required by federal law to provide pricing lists for goods and services offered, for caskets and for grave liners or “outer burial containers.” Another thing to be aware of is that you can purchase a casket from anywhere: any funeral home that tells you that you have to buy directly from them in order to have them provide memorial services — or that you have to pay an additional fee if you buy the casket elsewhere — is acting outside of the law.
The most common methods of funeral home and cemetery fraud all involve fraudulent operators relying upon consumers being unaware of which services are actually required and which are optional. Though the Federal Trade Commission does conduct inspections and undercover operations in order to ensure that funeral home operators are obeying the law, they cannot be everywhere, so if a funeral home operator tells you that you are required to pay for embalming or have to pay to use your own casket, you are advised to look elsewhere.
If you believe that you have been the victim of fraud you have options. We encourage you to call us to learn more about how we can help.