by T. Scott Gilligan, NFDA general counsel
Over the past two years, NFDA has issued warnings to funeral homes regarding the operations of Heritage Cremation Providers, an internet middleman that holds itself out to the public as a locally-owned and trusted funeral home providing low-cost cremation services. In fact, Heritage Cremation Providers is an unlicensed seller of funeral and cremation services with a long track record of consumer fraud and abuse. State Funeral Boards in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon and Tennessee have all taken action against Heritage Cremation Providers; however, because Heritage Cremation Providers can hide behind the internet, it is virtually impossible for a state board to be able to shut it down. Despite efforts of state regulators, they continue to peddle low-cost cremation services to the public through its website.
Because of warnings issued by NFDA and state funeral associations, in addition to efforts by state funeral boards to prohibit funeral homes and crematories from providing services to Heritage Cremation Providers, many funeral homes have refused to enter into agreements with Heritage Cremation Providers to service families.
It appears that the warnings by NFDA and others have had an effect because we just learned that Heritage Cremation Providers has adopted a new subterfuge in contacting funeral homes to provide services to them. An NFDA member in New Hampshire informed NFDA that it was contacted over the last several weeks by a Colorado funeral home operating under the name of “Families First Funeral Homes.” After receiving several calls, the New Hampshire funeral home became suspicious and reviewed closely the paperwork that it had received from Families First Funeral Home. Buried in the paperwork were several written listings of “Heritage Cremation Providers.” Apparently, when Heritage Cremation Providers decided to disguise itself as Families First Funeral Home, it overlooked several references to Heritage Cremation Providers in its own paperwork.
Upon discovering the discrepancies, the member in New Hampshire notified NFDA and we have been able to confirm that Families First Funeral Home LLC is a limited liability company organized in Colorado. In addition, NFDA was able to verify that the contact agent for Families First Funeral Homes LLC listed with the Office of the Colorado Secretary of State is Anthony J. Damiano. Of course Anthony J. Damiano, also known as A.J. Damiano, is one of the owners and operators of Heritage Cremation Providers.
While NFDA members who receive calls to provide cremation services for Families First Funeral Home or Heritage Cremation Providers know to refuse those requests, it is highly probable that Heritage Cremation Providers will simply adopt a series of new aliases and fictitious trade names to disguise its actual identity. For that reason, funeral homes should always investigate when they receive a request for services from out-of-state funeral homes that they are not familiar with. If you have not previously dealt with a particular out-of-state funeral home, ask for its contact information and confirm through NFDA’s website, state board licensing listings and funeral home directories that it is an operating funeral home. Since nearly every funeral home has a website, this will be helpful in confirming who owns and operates the funeral home that is requesting you to provide cremation services.
NFDA members with questions regarding this matter may contact Scott Gilligan at 513-871-6332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.