Federal Trade Commission investigators, working undercover in five states, found failures to disclose timely itemized pricing information, as required by the Funeral Rule, in 17 of the 90 funeral homes they have visited since 2018.
The FTC periodically conducts undercover inspections to monitor funeral homes’ compliance with the Funeral Rule. The Rule gives consumers important rights when making funeral arrangements, requiring funeral homes to provide itemized information about the price of funeral goods and services. The Funeral Rule enables consumers to compare prices and buy only the goods and services they want.
Funeral homes that violate the price disclosure requirements for the first time may be eligible to enter the Funeral Rule Offender’s Program (FROP), a training program run by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) designed to increase compliance with the Rule.
All of the homes found to have violated the Rule in these inspections have chosen to enter the FROP rather than subject themselves to the possibility of an FTC enforcement action seeking civil penalties, which can be as high as $43,280 per violation. The FROP provides participants with a legal review of the price disclosures required by the Rule and ongoing training, testing, and monitoring for compliance.
Funeral homes that participate in the program make a voluntary payment to the U.S. Treasury in place of a civil penalty, and pay annual administrative fees to the NFDA.
The results of the inspections for failure to comply with price list disclosure requirements by region are as follows:
- In Marietta and Gainesville, Georgia, seven of the 13 funeral homes inspected failed to comply.
- In Lafayette, Louisiana, three of the 20 funeral homes inspected failed to comply.
- In Las Vegas, Nevada, three of the 23 funeral homes inspected failed to comply.
- In Northern and Central New Jersey, none of the 11 funeral homes inspected failed to comply.
- In Beaumont, Texas, four of the 23 funeral homes inspected failed to comply.
In addition, the FTC identified a number of funeral homes within the tested areas with minor compliance deficiencies. In such cases, the FTC sent letters noting the concerns and requiring the funeral homes to provide evidence that they have corrected the problems.
The FTC wishes to thank the Nevada Office of the Attorney General and the Nevada Office of Consumer Affairs for their assistance with the inspections in Nevada.
To promote compliance with the Funeral Rule, the FTC has issued a new tip sheet for businesses, Funeral Rule Price List Essentials, to help funeral providers comply with the Rule’s price list disclosure requirements. The FTC also offers a comprehensive business guide: Complying with the Funeral Rule.
The FTC provides information, in English and Spanish, about consumers’ rights under the Funeral Rule: Shopping for Funeral Services and Paying Final Respects, Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods and Services.
The public is reminded that the FTC is seeking comment on whether to make changes to its Funeral Rule as part of the agency’s systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides. The notice has been published in the Federal Register, and the comment period will be open until June 15, 2020. Instructions for filing comments appear in the notice.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.