FTC Seeks to Improve the American Public’s Access to Funeral Service Prices Online

The Federal Trade Commission is exploring possible steps to strengthen and modernize the Funeral Rule, which requires funeral providers to give in-person visitors price information to make informed decisions. The FTC also released a staff report that found that fewer than 40 percent of the funeral provider websites the agency reviewed provide any prices online.

“For decades, the Funeral Rule has provided crucial rights to grieving families seeking out burial and cremation services,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We look forward to hearing from the public about how we can modernize the rule to better protect consumers in today’s market.”

The Funeral Rule requires funeral providers to furnish consumers who visit funeral homes in-person with itemized price information. But, because the rule was first issued in the 1980s, it does not require them to provide price information online and via other electronic means like email or text messages.

The agency’s review of funeral providers’ websites – which took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when many people could not or did not feel comfortable visiting a funeral home in person to make arrangements for their loved ones – found that more than 60 percent of the websites reviewed provided little to no information about their prices.  

On February 14, 2020, the Commission initiated a routine review of the rule, which received 785 comments. Several commenters stated that many funeral providers do not provide price information online and asked the Commission to require that funeral providers make price information available on their websites and via other electronic means.

After carefully reviewing all the comments received, the staff report, and the FTC’s enforcement and outreach efforts in the area, the Commission has decided to retain the Funeral Rule and issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning potential amendments to the rule, including whether and how funeral providers should be required to display or distribute their price information online and through electronic means.

Information about how to submit comments on the FTC’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is included in the Federal Register notice. The deadline for submitting comments will be 60 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register in the coming days. Submitted comments will be posted to Regulations.gov.

The Commission voted 4-0 to publish the notice in the Federal Register and issue the staff report. Chair Lina M. Khan issued a separate statement.

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