By T. Scott Gilligan, NFDA General Counsel
NFDA is alerting its members regarding Heritage Cremation Providers, an online cremation business that has been the target of state enforcement actions in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon and Tennessee. On its website, Heritage Cremation Providers, which also operates under the name of Legacy Funeral Service, portrays itself as a low-cost, family-owned, locally based cremation service. In actuality, it is a scandal-ridden middleman that collects payments from consumers for cremation services and then outsources all of the work to funeral homes and crematories that perform removals and carry out the cremation. Due to numerous misrepresentations on its website, its lack of licensing, and a track record of carelessness and incompetence, it has drawn the scrutiny of state enforcement agencies and the Federal Trade Commission.
Heritage Cremation Providers and Legacy Funeral Services were able to operate unchecked for several years because they were selling cremation services over the internet. As such, they did not have a physical base of operations which makes it difficult for state licensing authorities to pursue them. But, faced with a mountain of consumer complaints, state agencies have begun to issued fines and injunctions against Heritage Cremation Providers and Legacy Funeral Services. In addition, apparently 30 complaints have been filed with the Federal Trade Commission, although it is not known if the FTC is actively investigating Heritage Cremation Providers.
According to reports from the Better Business Bureau, which currently gives Heritage Cremation Providers a D- grade, Heritage Cremation Providers, Legacy Funeral Services, and its owners Joseph Damiano and Anthony Joseph Damiano have been ordered to cease and desist operations in Florida, Georgia and Colorado. Moreover, in North Carolina, the State Funeral Board has advised funeral homes in that state that if they perform services for Heritage Cremation Providers, they will be charged with aiding and abetting an unlicensed provider of cremation.
Even in states where there is no current order against Heritage, funeral homes and crematories should be aware of the numerous enforcement actions against Heritage Cremation Providers and Legacy Funeral Services from around the country. NFDA members who have had dealings with Heritage or Legacy in the past should closely consider whether they want to continue to provide services to either of these companies. In addition, if approached by these companies, members should think twice before agreeing to provide cremation services for their customers.
Any NFDA member with questions regarding this matter may contact Scott Gilligan at 513-871-6332.