The emotional toll that burying a loved one takes is hard enough; you shouldn’t have to worry about funeral fraud either. Unfortunately, funeral scams are more common than you’d think. With the average cost of a funeral being more than $7,000, there are many scammers out there who find it the perfect time to squeeze every last dime out of you. Here are five of the most common funeral frauds to look out for.
1. Requiring Unlawful Conditions
Federal law mandates that funeral homes give you a list of three pricing models upon the first meeting. One is for all of the services and goods offered, another for the outer burial containers, and the third for the caskets. If you are not given this list, then be wary that the funeral home may be trying to scam you. It is forbidden for funeral homes to require additional services that are optional by federal law. For example, embalming should never be required. Additionally, if a funeral home insists that the casket is purchased through them and not another business as a condition for their memorial services, this is a sure sign of a scam and is illegal. Also, look out for funeral homes that will try and charge you an extra fee for buying your casket somewhere else.
2. Prepaying Scams
Although planning for a funeral in advance is wise due to the fact you can comparison shop funeral homes and make sure that arrangements are perfectly made, it also comes with the risk of getting scammed. One such prepaid funeral scam that the FBI busted involved over 97,000 people spanning 16 states. It involved over $450 million worth of services and goods that were never delivered or provided. Even when using a funeral home that is legitimate and well established you have to think about what will happen if you decide to move or if the funeral home closes, as your prepaid funds may not be honored.
3. Fake Funeral Invitations
There are many scams that involve funeral homes overcharging for their services. However, another type of funeral scam out there is set up to attempt to steal your identity. In recent times, there have been cyber scammers based in foreign countries that email out fake funeral notifications. This email will take the stolen logo and name from a real funeral home so that it appears to be a legitimate invitation to a remembrance service or funeral for a friend or acquaintance that is unnamed. When you open the attachment or link to get the details, a malware is downloaded onto your computer to steal sensitive information.
4. The Casket Scam
One means that funeral directors scam their customers are by showing them the most expensive types of caskets first. This is because studies have found that shoppers will usually purchase one of the first three caskets shown to them, and typically they purchase the one in the middle price range. Due to this, funeral directors will often show their customers the showroom model caskets, to begin with. To avoid buying an over-priced casket, ask the funeral director to show you the lower priced caskets first. Often these are purposefully painted in unattractive colors to push customers towards the more expensive models, but usually, a cheaper model in the color you want is only a phone call away.
5. Protective Casket Scam
Another common scam is to sell caskets that are said to protect the body. These caskets come with a rubber gasket that claims to stop water penetration into the casket, which then preserves the body from decomposing. However, the protective casket is one of the largest scams in the funeral industry. A typical gasket costs no more than $20, however, some funeral homes will charge up to $1000 more for those models that have the gasket compared to ones that don’t. Additionally, these gaskets have been proven actually to do the opposite, and some have even exploded.