R.O.S.E., Resources/Outreach to Safeguard the Elderly
Losing a loved one is already an emotionally challenging time, and the last thing you need is to fall victim to a scam that is now becoming more prevalent. These heartless schemes prey on vulnerable individuals when they’re most in need. Here’s how to identify and protect yourself from becoming a victim of the latest funeral scam.
How It Works
Information in an obituary gives the scammer what they need about their potential target: deceased name, living spouse/companion, funeral date, and location.
The scammer will search the internet for the phone number of the living spouse and funeral home, claim to represent the funeral home, and ask for more money for unforeseen circumstances. If their initial polite ask is met with resistance, they will turn up the pressure. For example, they may say the price of the service was misquoted for some reason or they didn’t receive the previous payment or that the previous payment method failed to process.
Regardless of the excuse, they will say that they cannot move forward with the funeral until the payment has been made.
Any person who is forced into making a quick decision may miss the signs. But someone grieving the loss of a loved one is under even more stress. Oftentimes, the loved one will miss the signals and pay so the funeral can continue without delay.
How to Identify This Scam and Protect Yourself
* Resist the urge to act immediately! If you receive this call, email, or text—hang up. Call your funeral home at the number you have for them—not the number on your Caller ID or in the email or text. Scammers can “spoof” the Caller ID phone number to make it look like the funeral home, and they can provide different numbers in the email or text message that will go directly to the scammer. Verify before trusting!
* Be wary of the payment method! Scammers will ask for payment via gift cards, wire transfer, cryptocurrency, or services like Zelle, Venmo, or Paypal.
* Talk to a trusted advisor. Reach out to someone that you trust to make them aware of the call. They may be able to help you understand that this is a scam.
* Report the scam to the funeral home—they will want to know that scammers are impersonating them.
These bad actors will contact you via phone, email, or text and will create a compelling reason to act—in this case, preying on you as you grieve. And finally, they will request payment, usually via gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. They will push a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly. In this case, payment before the services can be held.
By being vigilant and following these guidelines, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to funeral scams during a difficult time. For more information, go to www.roseadvocacy.org or call 602-445-7673.
R.O.S.E. seeks to create change by educating and providing awareness of financial scams that typically target the older/elderly population, with a focus on those age 60 and over. For more information and resources, visit www.roseadvocacy.org, email us at [email protected], or call us at 602-445-7673.