A Chicago funeral home operator has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that he violated the Funeral Rule, which helps to ensure that people have the information they need to compare prices and buy only the funeral services and goods they want.
In July 2011, at the FTC’s request, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Harry J. Carter III, doing business as Carter Funeral Chapels Ltd. of Chicago, with not providing consumers with itemized price lists, as required by the Funeral Rule. The complaint was based on inspections by FTC staff posing as consumers seeking to make funeral arrangements.
The FTC conducts undercover inspections every year to ensure that funeral homes are complying with the Funeral Rule, which gives consumers important rights when making funeral arrangements. The Rule, issued in 1984, requires funeral homes to provide consumers with an itemized price list at the start of an in-person discussion of funeral arrangements, a casket price list before consumers view any caskets, and price information by telephone on request. It also prohibits funeral homes from requiring consumers to buy any item, such as a casket, as a condition of obtaining any other funeral good or service.
Under the consent order, the defendant is permanently prohibited from violating the Funeral Rule. The order also imposes a $64,000 civil penalty, which will be suspended due to the defendant’s inability to pay. The full judgment will become due immediately if the defendant is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.
The FTC educates consumers in English and Spanish about their rights under the Funeral Rule, and provides guidance to businesses in how to comply. For more information read Paying Final Respects: Your Rights When Buying Funeral Goods & Services (Rindiendo Honores: Sus Derechos al Momento de Comprar Artículos y Servicios para Funerales), Funerals: A Consumer Guide (Funerales: Guía para el Consumidor), and Complying with the Funeral Rule.
The Commission vote approving the proposed consent order was 4-1, with Commissioner Rosch voting in the negative. The order was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on September 11, 2012.
NOTE: This consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants that the law has been violated. Consent decrees have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.