FTC Sends Warning Letters to Many Funeral Homes
We often see whistleblowers come forward to stop fraud and other misconduct that takes advantage of people at their most vulnerable times. It’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable time than when family and friends are grieving the loss of a loved one and trying to arrange their funeral. It’s good to see the FTC is on the case to protect consumers in this context.
On January 25, the FTC announced it is “sending warning letters to 39 funeral homes across the country after investigators conducted the agency’s first undercover phone sweep and discovered several violations of the Funeral Rule, including funeral homes that failed to provide accurate pricing information or failed to give out price information entirely.” Hopefully, these letters will stem at least some of the misconduct.
Under the Funeral Rule, consumers have certain rights, including (i) “get[ting] a general price list from a funeral provider”; and (ii) “choos[ing] the funeral goods and services they want (with some exceptions).” Each year, the “FTC conducts undercover inspections” to see whether funeral homes are complying with the rule.
In 2023, FTC investigators and staff “placed undercover calls to more than 250 funeral homes across the country to try to obtain price information,” finding that “39 funeral homes violated the Funeral Rule on these calls.” According to the FTC, most of the violations related to funeral homes that “either refused to answer questions about pricing at all or provided inconsistent pricing for identical services.” On one call, a funeral home apparently misrepresented the local health code concerning embalming. On another call, the funeral home provided package pricing that did not meet the Funeral Rule’s requirements for a General Price List with itemized services and disclosures.
The FTC plays an important role in enforcing the Funeral Rule to try to ensure that unscrupulous funeral homes do not take advantage of vulnerable, grieving people. Whistleblowers are often motivated by a similarly noble desire: to make sure that companies and individuals are not taking advantage of people, particularly the most vulnerable.
If you would like more information on what it means to be a whistleblower or think you may have information relating to fraud or misconduct involving a government program, please feel free to contact us so we can connect you with a member of the Constantine Cannon whistleblower lawyer team for a free and confidential consultation.
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