10 Tips to Protect Against Cemetery or Funeral Scams
Most people would rather not think about funerals — whether it be their own or that of an elderly loved one. Yet knowing about funeral scams can save you and your family from added heartache during an already emotionally charged time.
In 1984, the Federal Trade Commission established the Funeral Rule, which is designed to protect consumers from funeral scams and fraud by requiring funeral providers to give adequate information about their services. Yet unscrupulous funeral-home owners continue to take undue advantage of grief striken families.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the National Funeral Director’s Association, the median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial came to just over $8,500. In an effort to help you and your family from being exploited, here are 10 tips to help protect against cemetery or funeral scams:
Shop around in advance.
Compare prices from at least two funeral homes. Remember that you can supply your own casket or urn.
Ask for a price list.
The law requires funeral homes to give you written price lists for products and services.
Resist pressure to buy goods and services you don’t really want or need.
Avoid emotional overspending.
It’s not necessary to have the fanciest casket or the most elaborate funeral to properly honor a loved one.
Recognize your rights.
Laws regarding funerals and burials vary from state to state. It’s a smart move to know which goods or services the law requires you to purchase and which are optional.
Know the Rules.
Know that embalming rules are governed by state law and that embalming is not legally required for direct cremations.
Read the Fine Print.
Carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing.
Understand the Terms.
Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms, as well as your portability options for transferring your contract to other funeral homes.
Understand the Fees.
Understand the difference between funeral home basic fees for professional services and any fees for additional services.
Be a Smart Shopper.
Apply the same smart shopping techniques you use for other major purchases. For example, you can cut costs by limiting the viewing to one day or one hour before the funeral (if at all), and by dressing your loved one in a favorite outfit instead of costly burial clothing.
For more information on how to avoid funeral scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s webpage, Funerals: A Consumer Guide.
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