Purchasing funeral services requires careful consideration.
Some purchases like groceries occur frequently.
People are comfortable with the chore because they do it often.
Other purchases like homes, cars, and funeral services are infrequent.
Often these bring feelings of doubt and uncertainty.
According to a recent The Seattle Times article titled “When shopping for funeral services, be wary,” people are often in vulnerable states when planning funerals and can easily be targets of unsavory individuals in the digital age.
Consider this scenario.
Fraud charges were recently brought by federal authorities against someone operating two online cremation brokerages.
This operator was dishonest to clients and also used the bodies of the loved ones as collateral until higher prices were paid.
The Funeral & Cremation Group of North America and Legacy Cremation Services and principal Anthony Joseph Damiano were sued by the Justices Department on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission.
This company uses several names as a cover.
Two of these are the websites Legacy Cremation Services and Heritage Cremation Provider.
These companies present themselves as local cremation providers with low-cost services.
In reality, they simply arrange for unaffiliated funeral homes to provide the services while setting the prices and arranging the services.
According to the complaint in the lawsuit, low prices are offered but customers are required to pay higher fees.
Customers must also often drive longer distances to view and pickup the remains.
If the customers contest the inflated prices, the complaint states the company refuses to return the remains until payment is received.
How can you avoid funeral scams?
The Funeral Consumer Alliance recommends doing research and reviewing options.
It is better to begin looking for funeral service providers in advance of when needed.
You should ask for the address of the local cremation provider and request a time to visit.
If the cremation site is different than the funeral home, you should not be surprised.
This is typical in the United States.
Cremation sites are also likely not to be available for tours.
Should you be surprised if the price is not listed on the website?
Online price disclosures are not currently required by the Federal Trade Commission.
While some states require this to be included, not all do.
In addition to online funeral scams, the government warns of people calling to offer services in registering for funeral benefits.
By starting funeral planning early, you can help protect your loved ones from fraudulent individuals seeking to prey on your recent death.
As with any life and death matters, professional advice when making plans is the key to success.
Funeral planning is no different.
Todd Schneider of Schneider Family Funeral Home and Crematory is a prime example of what a funeral counselor and provider should aspire to be.
Todd and his staff have taken care of the final arrangements for nearly every member of my extended family in the Mound City, Kansas area.
Reference: The Seattle Times (May 15, 2022) “When shopping for funeral services, be wary”