National Cemetery Administration
Consumer Affairs Guidance
VA cemetery staff sometime receive complaints about policies or practices in the private sector that Veterans and their families find offensive or misleading. In many cases, staff cannot intervene, but there are organizations that may be able to help. Consumers may want to contact the references listed here. The important thing is to select the most constructive approach to resolving your particular concerns.
Contact the Firm
Call or write the firm directly. Find out what is actually being offered. Let the firm know why you object to their practices or policies. Many times a cemetery or funeral home is owned by a larger business. If so, it may be worthwhile to write the parent company to express a complaint.
International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA)
The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, a national trade association of private, religious and municipal cemeteries, offers its assistance to consumers with inquiries regarding cemetery sales practices.
107 Carpenter Drive
Sterling, VA 20164
National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)
NFDA offers a number of consumer resources to provide a greater understanding on topics such as planning funerals and life tributes, types of losses, grief and bereavement, consumer tips, and links to support and charitable organizations.
13625 Bishop Drive
Brookfeld, WI 53005
Monument Builders of North America (MBNA)
This association represents retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers of headstones and markers. It works with consumers to resolve complaints.
136 S. Keowee
Dayton, OH 45402
State and Local Consumer Protection Offices or State Attorneys General
Most areas of the country have government offices charged with protecting consumers from fraud. Addresses and telephone numbers are listed in the "Consumer Action Handbook." Single copies of the "Consumer Action Handbook" can be obtained by calling 1-844-872-4681 or visit www.gsa.gov. If you believe the law has been broken, you may want to consult your state attorney general's office. Consumer protection divisions may investigate to determine if state laws have been violated.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Write or call the local BBB with your complaint. Addresses and telephone numbers are listed in the "Consumer Action Handbook." If the complaint involves an advertisement which is national in scope and deceptive to the public, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus may be interested.
Arlington, VA 22201
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The funeral industry is covered by a specifc rule issued by the Federal Trade Commission. Although there is no comparable rule regarding the cemetery industry, cemeteries are still covered by general prohibitions regarding unfair practices in interstate commerce. Complaints regarding private cemeteries may be sent to the FTC, so that the information may be considered in future rulemaking proceedings.
Public Reference Section
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
AARP and similar groups are interested in protecting the public from fraudulent practices, and can incorporate warnings into their information pamphlets and formal testimony before Congress, the FTC and others. Consumer pamphlets are available entitled "Cemetery Goods and Services" and "Prepaying Your Funeral."
601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049
If the complaint involves an advertisement, contact the newspaper, TV or radio station that carried the ad. Indicate which statements could be misleading. If the misleading statements appear in a news report or printed article (as opposed to an advertisement), call the broadcast station news director or send a letter to the editor. Many newspapers and broadcast stations have consumer hotlines or investigative reporters who might be interested in following up on a consumer complaint.
Burial in a Private Cemetery
If you are selecting burial in a private cemetery and plan to request a government headstone, grave marker, or medallion, there are several things you should determine in advance. Find out if the cemetery has any restrictions on the type of headstone or marker that can be used to mark the grave or if it will require a special marker base. Ask if there will be an additional cost for the placement, setting or care of a free government headstone or marker and if they charge more than if a private headstone or marker is purchased.
If you plan to request a government headstone or marker for the Veteran's grave in a private cemetery, we recommend that you complete in advance, VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker; or VA Form 40-1330M for a bronze medallion and place it with the Veteran's military discharge papers for use at the time of need. Only an eligible Veteran may receive a government-provided headstone or marker for placement in a private cemetery. Veterans' spouses and dependent children are not eligible.