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Sinister Scam Targets Grieving Families

Scam AlertJust got word from the Texas Funeral Directors Association of a new scam going around targeting grieving families. This is perhaps the most sinister scam we’ve seen since telephone and e-mail scams began over 5 years ago.

A family is contacted by an individual claiming to work for the funeral home, and rudely informs them that they have a balance due on their loved one’s funeral. They are asked to pay immediately by credit or debit card. Our guess is that they get the funeral home information from the obituary and the phone number from the telephone or internet phone directories because the funeral home would not release this information.

Please be aware and do not to be taken in by this scam. The family who reported this had paid in full, but someone who did have a balance might actually pay. Not only do they get taken, but the funeral home gets a bad reputation.

This has started in West Texas, but we know that once a scam takes hold, it can quickly travel across the nation.

What To Do If You Receive One Of These Calls

Do not give them your credit or debit card until you verify that this is not a scam. It is within your rights to say no to anyone asking your to immediately pay a bill over the phone.

  1. Explain that you will need to call them back with the information they want.
  2. Ask for the name of the funeral home, the name of the person calling and a phone number in which you can called them back.
  3. Hang up and verify that the phone number belongs to the funeral home by looking the funeral home number up in the phone book or online. If the number is different than the one the caller gave you, this is a good sign that it is a scam.
  4. Call the funeral home and ask for the billing department. Verify that the information the caller gave you was in fact correct.
  5. If you find out that the call was a scam immediately file a report with your State Attorney General Office. Be sure to give them the phone number that the scammer gave you.
  6. Make sure the funeral home knows that a scammer is calling their clients.

How Funeral Homes can protect themselves from this scam.

  1. Give clients clear and written information concerning terms of payment for services.
  2. Give clients a business card with billing contact information.
  3. Pass along any information you have about scams like these to your state and national funeral directors associations, FSN Funeral Homes as well as other local funeral homes.

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