Fact Check: North Carolina Does NOT Offer Statewide Program To Help Cover Burial, Cremation Costs

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: North Carolina Does NOT Offer Statewide Program To Help Cover Burial, Cremation Costs Insurance Lead

Does the state of North Carolina have an "affordable supplemental death benefit program" that will pay up to $40,000 to cover final expenses as is claimed in an ad posted on Facebook? No, that's not true: No such statewide benefit program exists. This misleading ad is intended to generate leads to sell life insurance for final expenses. There is no $40,000 government benefit in North Carolina that is free for people who qualify.

The claim appears in a post on Facebook (archived here) published by the page American Final Expense & Legacy on December 11, 2023. The caption begins:

πŸ›‘ π€π­π­πžπ§π­π’π¨π§: North Carolina π‘πžπ¬π’ππžπ§π­π¬ πŸ›‘

An Affordable Supplemental Death Benefit Program, up to $40,000, has been approved for 2023. Social Security ONLY pays $255 toward final expenses. That is it.
These Affordable supplemental death benefit programs are designed to pay what social security does not, up to $40,000!

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Feb 8 18:10:21 2024 UTC)

The post features a photo of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. A Google Lens reverse image search returns a November 19, 2021, article on wilmingtonbiz.com that includes the photo with a report that Cooper had signed the first state budget in three years. The article lists some items that the budget will be funding -- but not a program to help cover burial and cremation costs. The Facebook post image has a "Local Update" news-style banner caption stating:


The final part of the post caption reads:

βœ… Choose your Beneficiary
βœ… Benefits are Tax Free
βœ”οΈ Traditional Burial Services
βœ”οΈ Cremation Services
βœ”οΈ Memorial Services
If you are currently without Funeral Expenses and would like to know how to apply or qualify you can 𝐋𝐄𝐀𝐑𝐍 πŒπŽπ‘π„ now πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡

Directly below the photo, a "Learn More" button has a message employing the time-based marketing scarcity tactic, "Enrollment Ends Soon." This is not true. The Facebook page American Final Expense & Legacy was created on June 3, 2023, and that page has been running similar ads targeting North Carolina residents since September 30, 2023 (here and here). After clicking on the "Learn More" button, a pop-up window appears (pictured below) with the fields pre-filled with the Facebook user's personal information (redacted with orange by Lead Stories). The Facebook user must complete the form with their personal information before they can proceed. The caption says:

Congrats for taking the next step to securing the benefits you are entitled to! This form is highly secure & you will not receive spam of any kind. We will send you over your qualification status! Please VERIFY info below before you click the BLUE NEXT BUTTON below!


(Source: Redacted Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Feb 08 20:28:53 2024 UTC)

The Facebook page American Final Expense & Legacy does not have a website and is not listed by the Better Business Bureau. There are no posts on the page explaining their purpose. The final expenses ads are not forward-facing on the page. They are only visible when viewed in the Meta ad library or when they are served to the Facebook user as a sponsored post. The page intro reads:

Our mission: Educate families about Life Insurance Programs, enabling informed choices for loved ones

Funeralocity.com describes their company as is "the nation's leading consumer advocate website for families who are planning a loved one's funeral or cremation." The website has a guide titled, "The Complete A-to-Z Guide to Getting State Government Assistance for a Funeral." The entry for North Carolina includes a link to the North Carolina Judicial Branch portal to county services and is otherwise brief:

North Carolina does not provide statewide funeral or burial assistance but financial support may be available at the county level. For example, the Durham County Department of Social Services is responsible for cremation expenses for unclaimed bodies and offers burial/cremation assistance for indigent families.

Lead Stories reached out to the North Carolina Department of Insurance by email and we will update this article if we receive a reply.

An article published by the insurance agency Choice Mutual reviews some deceptive marketing strategies commonly encountered by the public in the name of state regulated life insurance. This article is not a specific response to this Facebook ad, but features images of similarly deceptive cards received in the mail. Like the Facebook ads, the cards request a person share their personal information based on deceptive offers of state benefits to pay tens of thousands of dollars for final expenses. The article explains what happens when a person responds:

Any advertisement that says 'new state regulated life insurance program' or something similar is a gimmick. These offers for government burial insurance are not connected to the government (federal, state, or local) in any way.

They are just highly deceptive life insurance marketing creatives that make you think it's a program affiliated with a local or state government.

If you respond to one of these offers, a life insurance salesperson will call you incessantly and show up at your house (if you give your physical address).

A video posted on the YouTube channel Perpetual Intent Marketing on December 30, 2020, is titled "The Best Final Expense Facebook Ads!" but is actually about problematic lead-generating ads, which presenter Jason Eichmiller called RBM for "Really Bad Marketing." As with the Choice Mutual article, the examples shown are similar but not specific to this ad. The gist of what Eichmiller said mirrors what Choice Mutual explained, but from the point of view of a person trying to sell insurance. At the 1:52-minute mark Eichmiller candidly said:

One thing that is very common with a lot of these ads is that they don't say insurance. When they're really really bad they say, 'Social Security burial benefits update,' stuff like that. But the whole point behind them is to get a senior to click thinking that it's something that it isn't. A lot of these seniors who interact with these ads, if it doesn't blatantly say 'life insurance' or 'affordable life insurance' or if it isn't a video of you talking about it and explaining what life insurance is, kind of like I'm teaching you right here. It's just, you're gonna get spammy people looking for free stuff that doesn't really exist and they're going to waste your time in two ways: Number one, they're going to waste your time because you'll, you're going to be having bad conversations with people who are never going to buy. Number two, you're going to waste your time, and this is even worse, you're going to waste more time because these people aren't going to pick up the phone when you call. So you're going to be chasing these people time after time after time and then once you get them on the phone again, they're going to say, 'Oh thanks for calling! I wanted that free burial benefit thing' -- that again we know doesn't exist.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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