A growing number of New Jersey residents grieving the loss of a family member are reporting being contacted, and in some cases harassed, by companies offering inheritance advances for a fee after a loved one has passed.

Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, R-Morris is sponsoring a measure that would prohibit the solicitation of business based on death notices and obituaries for three months.

She said the current situation has gotten out of control.

Targeting children in mourning

“Children, minor heirs are actually receiving these solicitations to cash out on your inheritance, and these are loans with monthly fees and interest charges,” she said.

She said this kind of predatory practice when people are emotionally spent and vulnerable crosses the line of decency.

“We are familiar with the ambulance chasers, and in this case, these are businesses that have been created solely to be coffin chasers,” said Dunn.

She pointed out that many people in this economy are in struggling and they may easily be taken advantage of, so it’s important to give them some safeguards.

KatarzynaBialasiewicz GettyImages

Getting tough

The proposed law would impose penalties as high has $10,000 for a first offense and $20,000 for a subsequent offense.

In addition, a violation can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General's Office, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

She stressed this legislation should get bipartisan support.

“What we just experienced through the pandemic, no one got out unscathed, we’ve all faced loss and suffering,” she said, “this is compassionate legislation I believe all of us should get behind.”

The measure has been referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee for consideration

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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