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33 funeral homes fail to disclose price information to consumers, the FTC finds

CasketIn 33 of the 134 funeral homes visited in 11 states during 2017, the Federal Trade Commission's undercover investigators found failures to disclose pricing information required by the FTC’s Funeral Rule.

The rule requires funeral homes to provide consumers with an itemized general price list at the beginning of a discussion of funeral arrangements, a casket price list before consumers view any caskets, and an outer burial container price list before they view grave liners or vaults. The rule also prohibits funeral homes from requiring consumers to buy any item, such as a casket, as a condition of obtaining any other funeral good or service.

By requiring a list of prices, the Funeral Rule allows consumers to compare prices and buy only the goods and services they want.

In the FTC 2017 inspections for price list disclosures by region, the following number of funeral homes failed to comply with a price list disclosure requirement:

  • In Fort Wayne, Indiana, none of the 19 funeral homes inspected.
  • In Southern Fairfield County in Connecticut, Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York, and Southern New Jersey, none of the 26 funeral homes inspected.
  • In Tucson, Arizona, one of the 11 funeral homes inspected.
  • In Boise, Idaho, two of the 14 funeral homes inspected.
  • In Hagerstown, Maryland, and Winchester, West Virginia, three of 15 funeral homes inspected.
  • In Tulsa, Oklahoma, four of the 20 funeral homes inspected.
  • In Augusta, Georgia, five of the 13 funeral homes inspected.
  • In Lansing, Michigan, seven of the 15 funeral homes inspected.
  • In Odessa and Midland, Texas, seven of the 15 funeral homes inspected.

In addition, the FTC identified a number of funeral homes, in the test areas, with only minor deficiencies. In these cases, the FTC requires the funeral home to provide evidence that it has corrected the problems.

Funeral homes that violate the price list disclosure requirements for the first time can enter the Funeral Rule Offender’s Program or FROP, a training program run by the National Funeral Directors Association. The homes found in violation choose to enter the FROP rather the possibility of an FTC enforcement action seeking penalties, which can be as high as $40,654 per violation. Funeral homes that participate in the program make a voluntary payment to the U.S. Treasury in place of a penalty, and pay annual administrative fees to the NFDA.

Since the FROP began in 1996, the FTC has inspected nearly 3,200 funeral homes and found 559 homes with violations that required referral to FROP.

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