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  • As an increasing number of Americans choose Cremation over traditional burials, Cremation Scams and Fraudulent Practices are also on the rise. As with IRS scams and Banking scams, Cremation Scams are aimed at people 65 and older.  Fraudsters and scammers attempt to take advantage of the sadness, grief and confusion many feel in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one. This is a time of great vulnerability for families, especially those who did not take advantage of Pre-Planning Services.

    The best way to combat Cremation Scams and Fraud is education. Here are some examples of Cremation Scams:

    • Concealing or misrepresenting prices. Dishonest providers may deliberately avoid providing prices to you in writing or they even increase prices/fees once the cremains are delivered.
    • Selling extra or unnecessary services or items. Service providers may try to sell unnecessary additional services, such as embalming or a burial casket, as part of a cremation package. These items can be quite expensive and are considered “pure profit” by unscrupulous funeral providers. Oftentimes, providers will use “high-pressure” sales tactics to coerce elderly customers into buying unnecessary products and services.
    • Forcing consumers to buy proprietary goods. Sometimes called “cramming,” a family member who wants to use a family heirloom for the cremains may be coerced into buying an “approved” urn or casket that is only sold by the provider, at a premium of course.
    • Misrepresenting legal requirements for funeral or cremation services. Unscrupulous providers may insist that embalming is required by law, even in a direct cremation with no viewing or funeral service, despite the fact that embalming is not a statutory requirement in most states.

    Now that you know what a Cremation Scam looks like, here are some steps you can take to avoid falling victim to such scams:

    Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

    Cremation providers should be willing to answer any questions that you or your family may have. If a provider fails to answer questions, is evasive or tries to hurry your family into a decision that does not feel right, you could be at risk for a scam. Be sure to meet with family members and even a family attorney to organize your questions in advance. Such questions can include:

    • How can I be sure that my loved one’s cremains are actually his or hers?
    • How will the cremains be presented to the family?
    • How long will the Cremation process take and how long will cremains be held prior to pick-up?
    • Do you offer support services for bereaved families, especially young children?

    Research the Cremation Provider

    As more and more families opt for Cremation in lieu of burial, “fly by night” cremation-only providers have begun to appear. In the same way that you would investigate a general contractor before building a house or hiring an attorney to draft a will for your family, you should investigate the credentials and performance of your Cremation provider. Here are some ways to conduct your investigation:

    • Visit the provider’s website and locate the provider’s physical address
    • Most provider websites include an “About Us” section. In many cases, you can double-check that information with public resources, including the Better Business Bureau and certain state-specific licensing agencies
    • Be wary of offers that may be too good to be true. Contact at least two providers so that you can compare products and services. The more offers you compare, the better
    • Read online reviews on social media and other online resources such as Yelp and Google
    • Where possible, follow-up with references

    Arrange for a Witness be present at the Cremation

    Request that a family member or representative (such as an attorney) witness the Cremation to ensure that no mishandling or mistakes in identification happen at any point during the Cremation process. The family representative must be able to visually identify the individual being cremated as a safeguard to ensure to that your loved one’s cremains are being returned to the family. Keep in mind that some states do not allow witnesses and some crematories have specific rules and regulations concerning witnesses, including additional fees to allow for a witness.

    Get Everything in Writing 

    Do not commit to any Cremation services until you have received all documentation in writing and have had a chance to review, including having legal counsel review the documents.

    Know Your Rights 

    As a consumer, your rights are clear under the FTC’s Funeral Rule, which describes in detail how providers of funeral services should provide burial and cremation services. Knowing your rights can help you to avoid the cremation and funeral scams listed above.

    The FTC’s Funeral Rule applies to all types of funeral and cremation service providers except third-party sellers like casket and urn dealers or cemeteries without an on-site funeral home. Your rights when purchasing or contracting services for burial or cremation include:

    • The right to buy only the services and products you want.
    • The right to refuse embalming. Many state laws do not require embalming as the only preservation process. In some cases, refrigeration may suffice. Check with your specific state laws before being forced to pay for embalming.
    • The right to get price information by phone without agreeing to buy.Funeral service providers are required by law to give you the prices you request by phone without requiring you to provide your name or other information. You also have the right to compare prices without being obligated to purchase a provider’s services.
    • The right to a written, itemized price list and written statement that lists your products and services.
    • The right to use a container other than a casket for cremation.A provider might try to coerce you into purchasing a casket for cremation even though no laws require it. The provider must offer alternatives such as wooden boxes or cardboard.
    • Know your rights and Cremation requirements in your state.

    Pre-Planning 

    Not only can Pre-Planning save your family money, it is always better to make such important decisions ahead of time so that all aspects can be researched and evaluated. Rarely are proper decisions made under duress or during a time of grief and confusion.

    Veterans Benefits for Cremation 

    The Department of Veterans Affairs provides certain burial benefits for veterans of U.S. military service that covers free interment in a National Cemetery and associated military honors, and those benefits can also be used for cremation services. Ask your cremation provider how they are equipped to accommodate veterans and their families.

    What Can You Do if You Fall Victim to a Scam?

    What actions can you take if you experience cremation fraud or fall victim to a cremation scam? Your rights under the FTC’s Funeral Rule are protected by several agencies and organizations, and you can report any experiences of fraud or scams to these entities for further investigation. You can report a funeral or cremation scam to the FTC here. State Attorneys General also investigate consumer complaints pertaining to funeral services. You can contact the Attorney General’s Office in your state by searching online.

    Business organizations also track complaints about the funeral and cremation industry. The Better Business Bureau and Consumer Protection Agency pursues reports of scams/fraud, and so does the Consumer Protection Agency.

    As you can see above, education is the best way to avoid falling victim to any cremation or funeral scams. At Cremation Society of America, we are committed to providing you and your family with the most competitive and dignified Cremation services available. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

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  • Children are capable of wonderful questions. During a recent client meeting, a young child asked us whether his grandmother would be cremated with her clothes on. What an amazing yet simple question! We thought that this would be a good time to explain how to dress your loved one for a Direct Cremation.

    For thousands of years, deceased loved ones were buried or cremated in special or ceremonial clothing and accompanied by valuable items, keepsakes or mementos. These days, there are certain types of clothing as well as certain items that cannot be included in a Cremation.

    A traditional cremation arranged with a funeral home will include the loved one being dressed and clothed by a funeral home representative prior to the viewing, services and cremation. The family provides the funeral home with the clothing of their choosing. Some funeral homes also provide the family with option to actually dress their loved one at the funeral home. In certain instances, the funeral home may also have clothes that can be purchased.

    By comparison, Direct Cremation services do not include viewings or dressing services. In most cases, people are cremated in either a sheet or the clothing they are wearing upon arrival to the crematory. However, most Direct Cremation providers give you and your family the option to fully dress your loved one prior to Direct Cremation.

    Not all clothing can be cremated

    It’s important to keep in mind that not all clothing and materials are permitted into the cremation chamber. Certain materials cannot be cremated because they are not combustible and could damage the chamber or associated equipment. We recommend that you avoid dressing your lived one in clothes that feature metallic buttons, zippers, or snaps.

    Materials that CANNOT be cremated include:

    • Metal
    • Plastic
    • Glass
    • Clothes made from synthetic materials that may be hazardous to burn
    • Electronic devices or implants such as pacemakers or hearing aids

    It may seem like common sense but here are materials that CAN be cremated:

    • Clothing made with natural materials such as cotton or wool
    • Cardboard or paper-based
    • Wood

    Please be sure to check with your Direct Cremation provider to confirm which clothing or outfit is appropriate for Cremation. There are various laws and regulations governing materials that can and cannot be cremated and they vary from state to state.

    Dressing your loved one for Direct Cremation

    Remove the clothing your loved one was wearing when he/she passed away. Funeral home professionals prefer to cut clothing off when dressing a loved one. You should do the same as it will make the process easier.

    Although it is not necessary for Direct Cremation, some families prefer to wash or clean their loved one, especially for religious reasons. Soap, water, and a washcloth are perfectly fine for this. Please be sure to dry his/her skin thoroughly after you’re done washing.

    To dress your loved one in pants:

    Press the pants so that the bottom cuffs are pressed against the seat of the garment. Lift the legs of your loved one and steadily slide the pants over both legs, pulling them up as high as possible -this should be above the thigh.

    Then, roll your loved one over onto one side. Using the belt, pull the pants the rest of the way up to your loved one’s waist. Then repeat with the opposite side. Fasten the pants closed and you’re done.

    To dress your loved one in a shirt, dress or skirt:

    Slowly split the garment straight up the back with a fine pair of scissors. Then place the shirt, dress or skirt over your loved one and wrap it around him/her. For shirts or dresses, be sure to place his/her arms into the sleeves and slide up his/her arms prior to tucking the shirt or dress underneath your loved one.


    Now you can add socks, shoes, scarves, kerchiefs and other accessories. 
    Then you carefully and gently groom your loved one by brushing or combing his/her hair, applying makeup, and any other grooming that you prefer. Please note that any prohibited materials in your loved one’s clothing or accessories will be removed by the crematory representatives prior to cremation. 

    Once you’re done dressing your loved one, your Direct Cremation provider will take it from there, including transportation, all documentation and certifications, verification and placement in the urn or vessel of your choosing.


    Please contact us at Cremation Society of America for more information regarding our Direct Cremation services to provide you and your family with peace of mind. We can also help you pre-plan all of your Direct Cremation services to meet your needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.

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  • Throughout this week, family and friends will gather together on Thanksgiving to take stock of their blessings and to be thankful for so many things. We at Cremation Society of America would like to take a moment to express our thanks to YOU for the privilege to serve YOU. Without YOU, we would not be able to do what we love: provide respectful and dignified cremation services during a time of stress and sadness.

    It may sound a bit cliché but we Americans are blessed by living in the greatest, most generous nation in the world. We should be thankful for all of the sacrifices of those who came before us so that we may be free. In case you were wondering how the Thanksgiving Holiday came to be, here is a brief history:

    Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2018 occurs on Thursday, November 22. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states.

    The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11. Unlike our modern holiday, it was three days long. The event was based on English harvest festivals, which traditionally occurred around the 29th of September. After that first harvest was completed by the Plymouth colonists, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, shared by all the colonists and neighboring Indians. In 1623 a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest.

    During the American Revolution a yearly day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress. In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same.

    In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod. Since then, each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941.)

    We at Cremation Society of America would like to wish you and your family a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. We hope that you cherish these moments surrounded by family and friends in the spirit of joy and Thanksgiving.

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  • So long as you use a licensed and reputable crematory or Cremation Service, you can assume that the ashes or cremains placed in your urn are indeed your loved one. However, many of us have asked ourselves the question “Is he or she REALLY in there? How would I really know? Did the crematory make a mistake?”

    At Cremation Society of America, you receive our Cremation Integrity Promise that our specially-trained team strictly follows our established protocols for ensuring that your loved one is positively identified throughout the cremation process.

    Our industry-leading chain-of-custody procedures include the following:

    Step 1: Before your loved one is removed from the place of death, a sealed identification band is placed on your loved one’s ankle. The placement of the band is certified and witnessed. Your loved one is then transported to our location in a solemn and dignified fashion.

    Step 2: Upon arrival at our location, the information on the identification band is confirmed a second time to be true and correct. A second identification band is then created with a barcode and placed on the wrist of your loved one. The barcode is then scanned and your loved one’s identification is entered into our system for validation and tracking. This ensures that we know the name of your loved one and your loved one’s precise location anywhere within our facility.

    Step 3: Once the designated family members make positive identification of your loved one by viewing or providing a photo ID, your loved one is then moved to the crematory.

    Step 4: Upon arriving at the crematory, identification and verification is confirmed once again and witnessed. Your loved one is then placed in the cremation chamber. An indestructible identification disk is placed in the chamber with your loved one. The disk is approximately the size of a quarter and is made of stainless steel. It will not melt despite the intense heat of the chamber. Unique identification numbers are stamped onto the disk for future verification. The disk will remain with the ashes (cremains) and we will keep a record of the unique identification numbers indefinitely. You are welcome to review the identification numbers upon request.

    Step 5: Once the cremation process is complete, the cremains – including the disk – are then placed into the container or urn selected by the family. The disk remains in the run with the cremains to provide an ironclad method of ensuring that your loved one’s ashes are indeed inside the urn.

    Please contact CSA for more information regarding our Direct Cremation services and our industry-leading identification protocols to provide you with peace of mind. CSA can also help you pre-plan all of your Direct Cremation services to meet your needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.

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  • As with all Cremation pre-planning, the time to choose an Urn for your loved one is well in advance. With the myriad of decisions that will bombard you and your family in the days following the passing of a loved one, Pre-Planning can bring a certain bit of peace to all involved. When it comes to selecting an Urn, the choices seem to be overwhelming. Where do you even start? At Cremation Society of America, we’re here to help.

    Urns come in a bewildering array of shapes, sizes, designs and materials. You can refine your search by focusing on the following questions:

    • Do I even need an Urn?
    • How will I use the Urn?
    • How much can I pay for an Urn?
    • Of which material should the Urn be made?
    • How should the Urn be designed and decorated?

    Let’s take a look at each of the questions.

    Do I even need an Urn?

    When choosing to pre-plan for a Direct Cremation, there are many ways to honor and memorialize your loved one. Deciding how to remember your loved one will affect all other urn decisions, such as:

    • Scattering Ashes at Sea: This is an increasingly popular option. You can choose an Urn with a removable lid or even use an approved biodegradable or alternative container
    • Land Burial: Another instance where an approved biodegradable or alternative container can be used
    • Urn for Display: This is the more traditional option for cremains. These Urns are made out of metal, marble, ceramic, stone or glass and are more permanent in nature
    • Urns residing in a columbarium: Much like Urns for Display, these are made out of metal, marble, ceramic, stone or glass and are more permanent in nature. The size of the chamber or niche will dictate the scope and cost of the Urn
    • Jewelry or Keepsake Urns: These can be quite ornate and store a small amount of cremains. These Urns are desirable when families wish to share the cremains

    How much can I pay for an Urn?

    Cremation Urns come in a nearly infinite price range, so the first step is to know what you’d like to spend. There are many high-quality urns in the $135 – $295 range. Competitive Internet pricing of Urns has made them very affordable without your having to sacrifice the quality or the ornate beauty of the vessel.

    With a moderate budget you can select an Urn with higher production value and more expensive materials. Some marble urns, ceramic urns, glass urns, Cloisonné urns, and hand-crafted wood urns can be purchased for $250 – $500.

    For high or even unlimited budgets, you can order a custom-made Urn that can be called a work of art, such as Artisan Urns that are made by hand. These Urns are literally a one-of-a-kind expression of love and honor for your loved one. Such Urns can cost from $900 to tens of thousands of dollars and are often made from glass, wood, ceramic or rare, expensive metals.

    Of which material should the Urn be made?

    Whether you have chosen to scatter the cremains, place the urn in a columbarium, or display in your home or office, here are some things to keep in mind:

    • Biodegradable Urns – Ideal for burial because they are made from non-toxic, eco-friendly materials that decompose over time, releasing the cremains into the ground or water as materials break down.
    • Permanent Cremation Urns – Used for display or for internment, placed in a columbarium or entombing in a mausoleum. These are usually made of marble or granite, or metals such as aluminum, stainless steel or bronze, even high-quality wood.
    • Urns for Scattering Cremains – Designed and crafted to be lightweight, these Urns are ideal for performing a scattering ceremony on the water. These are usually made with biodegradable and water-soluble materials like paper or silk for releasing the cremains into the sea or other body of water.

    How should the Urn be designed and decorated?

    The possibilities are nearly infinite. Many families design the Urn to reflect their loved one’s personality, passions, hobbies or special interests to spark memories and stories so that the loved one lives forever. Some themes can include religious, patriotic, sports team or university, hobby motifs such as gardening, cars or music. Engraving is a preferred option for those who wish to personalize the cremation Urn to commemorate the loved one. Names, dates, or even quotes can be inscribed onto many urns.

    Please contact CSA for more information regarding our selection of Urns and which Urn may best fit your Direct Cremation needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.

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