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Scammers Targeting Funeral Homes

Posted: November 15, 2012

NFDA has received numerous reports from members who have been contacted by scam artists in recent weeks. These scams run the gamut from people pretending they want to purchase cremation jewelry to individuals claiming a relative has died in another country and they need repatriation assistance. Scammers contact funeral homes in a variety of ways (fax, email, relay operators, etc.), and the inquiries can originate from anywhere in the world.

In previous scam alerts, NFDA has cautioned funeral homes to reduce the risk of fraud by taking the several precautions. Make sure that all employees at your firm, as well as your firm's answering service, are aware of the potential for scams by sharing these guidelines with them.

  • When an American citizen dies overseas and the remains must be returned to the United States, the nearest embassy or consulate will issue a certificate to accompany the casket. You should still personally verify the legitimacy of a death overseas and the intent to repatriate a body by contacting the State Department's Overseas Citizens Services Office at 888-407-4747.
      
  • NFDA members can be found in nearly 40 countries around the world. NFDA also has relationships with funeral associations in many countries around the world. NFDA staff can help verify the identity of a funeral home or funeral director in many countries. Call NFDA at 800-228-6332 for assistance.
      
  • Simply because a charge goes through on a credit card does not mean that it is legitimate. The credit card may have been stolen and a chargeback will eventually be made against the funeral home when the theft is discovered. Funeral homes should be very careful about accepting credit card payments when the contact is initiated by the consumer and the credit card number is given via e-mail, fax or telephone.
      
  • Never wire funds to a consumer or to a third-party office such as MoneyGram. Funds should never be wired unless the funeral home is certain as to the identity of the recipient, such as a funeral home that the funeral director has personally contacted using a telephone number available through an independent directory, such as NFDA's online member directory.
      
  • Be suspicious if the order is for several of the same items of merchandise, like cremation jewelry.
      
  • Whenever a contact is made from overseas, be cautious. Many scams are initiated overseas.
      
  • Be wary of any orders from addresses that use free e-mail services. Credit card companies report that these e-mail services have no billing relationship with the consumer, which makes them very difficult to trace.
      
  • Never ship merchandise until you verify that a check has cleared and that funds are in the account.
      
  • If you are contacted by someone asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Guard your account information carefully.
      
  • Be skeptical of individuals asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts or in transferring money from an overseas bank account to an account in the United States.
      
  • Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.