Beware of Scammers Who Target Grieving Families

By Emma Matthews, Funeralocity Family Advocate 

In times of grief and loss, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is falling victim to heartless criminals. A recent incident in Pennsylvania has been reported in which  scammers targeted a grieving family after reading a published obituary. The family was called by someone posing as an employee of the funeral home and told that the family had neglected to purchase “casket and urn insurance.” The caller wanted the family to provide a credit card to cover this additional charge.  No such insurance exists and fortunately this family did not fall for the ruse. It is crucial to be aware of such scams and take proactive measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones during vulnerable moments.  

Targeting Grieving Families: A Disturbing Reality

Bad actors, exploiting the information published on social media, news articles and obituaries, sometimes pose as sympathetic individuals or organizations offering financial assistance, funeral planning services, or even claiming to be debt collectors seeking payment on unpaid bills.

There has been a cold-hearted history of residences being burgled while families are attending services. And fake consultants have called families offering to help them obtain FEMA funeral expense reimbursement after the Covid-related death of a loved one.

In some cases, scammers may request personal information, such as social security numbers, bank account details, or credit card information, under the pretense of facilitating assistance. They may also manipulate the family’s emotions by mentioning outstanding debts or unpaid bills, coercing them into making immediate payments.

Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones:

  1. Be cautious with personal information: Avoid sharing sensitive information, such as social security numbers, bank account details, or credit card information, over the phone or via email unless you are certain about the legitimacy of the recipient.
  2. Verify the source: When receiving offers of assistance or charitable donations, always verify the identity of the individual or organization before providing any personal information or making financial transactions. Independently research the legitimacy of the organization and check if they have a verifiable track record.
  3. Beware of unsolicited communications: Be skeptical of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or social media messages claiming to offer assistance or demanding payments. Legitimate organizations usually do not initiate contact in such a manner.
  4. Educate family members: Inform your family members, especially the elderly or those who may be less familiar with online scams, about the existence of such schemes. Encourage them to seek advice from trusted individuals before making any financial decisions.
  5. Report suspicious activity: If you encounter any suspicious activity or believe you have been targeted by a scammer, report it to your local authorities immediately. This helps in raising awareness and preventing others from falling victim to similar scams.

Scammers targeting grieving families represent a real low in the realm of scams, exploiting vulnerable individuals during a time of immense emotional distress. By staying vigilant, educating ourselves and our loved ones about these heartless tactics, and adopting the necessary precautions, we can create a shield of protection against these predators.

In times of mourning, it is essential to focus on healing and cherishing the memories of our loved ones, without the added burden of falling victim to scams. Together, as a community, we can ensure that scammers are unable to exploit our vulnerability, and instead offer support, empathy, and compassion during our most challenging moments.

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