Undercover investigation cites Marietta, Gainesville funeral homes

Investigators working undercover found that more than half of the funeral homes they checked in Marietta and Gainesville failed to provide detailed information on prices, as required by federal consumer protection rules.

Georgia had the worst compliance with the regulation among five states investigated. Seven of 13 funeral homes inspected violated the regulation, the Federal Trade Commission said. In Louisiana, three of 20 homes failed; as did three of 23 in Nevada and four of 23 in Texas. None of the homes in New Jersey failed.

FTC didn’t identify the homes in question.

The rule is intended to prevent financial exploitation of consumers who are often under time pressure and emotionally strained in choosing funeral services.

Fines for violating the regulation are as high as $43,280, but FTC said that the homes opted to enter its training and monitoring program and make a voluntary payment to the U.S. Treasury in place of a civil penalty.

Funeral homes also can face sanctions by the Georgia Board of Funeral Service for failing to disclose pricing. The board annually inspects home and investigates if it receives a complaint. The state fine is $200. Failure to comply with other pricing disclosures also can result in fines or disciplinary action, including suspension or revocation, said Executive Director Brad Coman.

The federal findings come as the FTC is considering whether to revise rules intended to prevent unfair and deceptive practices in the sale of funeral goods and services. June 15 is the deadline to comment on the pricing rule. To comment, online go to regulations.gov and search for "Funeral Industry Practices Rule."