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Every week, join Sydney Waters as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Funeral Live Stream Scams

American soldier kneeling at a veterans grave on memorial day. Focus on the foreground.
MivPiv/Getty Images/iStockphoto
American soldier kneeling at a veterans grave on memorial day. Focus on the foreground.

First reported in Australia and Ireland late last year, the ruse has made its way to North America. A recently deceased Quincy, Illinois, woman had a Facebook page made to promote a live stream of her funeral. The scammer behind the creation of the live stream sent friend requests to people to help promote the website associated with the live stream.

The website promoting the live stream of the funeral included photos of the woman and a link to an alleged live stream of the funeral. When users tried to watch the event, they were told they had to acquire a membership to the website. Those who entered information for a website were at risk of giving up their personal information, including banking and credit card information.

Keep in mind, funeral directors do not routinely charge people to watch live streams of funerals that they arrange.

Follow BBB’s tips for avoiding funeral live stream scams:

Research websites before paying any money or entering any information.

Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the payment.

Be cautious before clicking links included in social media posts or unsolicited text messages or emails. Clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware or identity theft.

Check a website’s history before you decide to visit it. There are several free web address (URL) database search engines that report how long a website has been active and who owns the site. This information can help you determine whether or not the website is legitimate.

Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL should start with “https://.” You may also see a picture of a small, closed lock in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

Report it. If you think you have encountered a funeral live stream scam:

o Report it to BBB Scam Tracker.

o Report it to the funeral home handling arrangements.

o Report the post to the social media website where it appeared.

Sydney Waters is the new Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau and responsible for outreach efforts in Southern Illinois and Eastern and Southwest Missouri.