FTC Unearths Unlawful Activity in Funeral Homes
Last week the Federal Trade Commission issued their 2009 report on funeral home practices. Every year, the FTC conducts an undercover investigation of funeral homes to make sure that they are complying with the their Funeral Rule enacted in 1984. This Rule protects consumer rights through the following main provisions:
• Must provide a price list of products and services at the beginning of any in-person discussion of arrangements
• Must give consumers a price list for caskets before any are shown
• Cannot require customers to buy any item, such as a casket, as part of the funeral services
• Must allow customers to compare prices and buy only the products and services they want
With the assistance of states' attorneys general and the AARP, the 2009 investigation found a high percentage of violations in funeral home operations throughout nine states and Washington, DC. In El Paso, Texas, and Nassau County, New York, half of the funeral homes inspected had serious violations. Funeral homes engaging in unlawful practices can elect to participate in a three-year Funeral Home Offenders Program in lieu of fines or an FTC lawsuit.
Funerals are expensive and occur at a sensitive and vulnerable time. Consumers can be convinced to pay thousands of dollars for funeral goods and services because they don't understand their rights. The FTC website has more detailed articles and explanations on funeral home rules and regulations.