Funeral practices in the United States have changed a lot over the last several years. Where once the vast majority of Americans purchased cemetery plots and arranged for traditional burial, today more and more people are opting for cremation – in fact, cremation has become the choice in over half of recent funerals. Unfortunately, as the number of cremations has increased, so too has the number of scammers looking to take advantage of people during their time of grief.
Cremation fraud is a deceptive or illegal activity perpetrated by those trying to take advantage of people while they are at their most vulnerable — after the death of a loved one. It can take many forms, including:
- Improperly handling remains
- Misidentifying remains
- Charging for unnecessary services or concealing fees until after the service has been provided
- Pressure tactics to force mourners to buy unneeded services or products
- Forcing mourners to buy proprietary urns
- Lying about legal requirements regarding burial, including indicating that a casket or embalming is required
There are several ways to protect yourself from being a victim of cremation fraud, and most of them have to do with doing your research and being aware of your rights. They include:
- Planning ahead and making your own arrangements. Doing so eliminates the need for your loved ones to make decisions hastily or while grieving
- Learn the laws about funerals. The Federal Trade Commission’s website explains what is legal in terms of pricing and services, most of which are entirely up to the consumer. The more you know about your rights, the better.
- Read reviews of funeral companies. As is true of every other service industry, happy and unhappy clients are posting reviews of cremation and burial service companies, and you can learn a great deal by checking these testimonials to learn about others’ experiences. Also, check the provider’s listing on the Better Business Bureau website.
- Request that a witness be present for cremation
- Ask thorough questions about how the funeral service identifies and tracks bodies and remains throughout the process
- Check the company’s background, including where they are located and how long they have been in business.
- Recognize pressure tactics for what they are, and don’t fall for them.
- Visit more than one provider and compare prices, services, and approach
- Get everything in writing
If you believe that you have already been the victim of cremation fraud, you have the right to pursue justice on your own behalf as well as on behalf of your loved one. For more information, contact us today to set up an appointment with our compassionate attorneys.