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Complaint Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Cemetery Oversight

  1. How do I file a complaint?
  2. How do I check a cemetery’s, crematory’s or burial goods business’ complaint history? How far back can I search for complaints?
  3. What information do I include with my complaint?
  4. Where do I send the complaint?
  5. What happens after I file a complaint?
  6. Does the cemetery, crematory, and/or burial goods business receive a copy of the complaint?
  7. What happens if the cemetery, crematory, and/or burial goods business does not respond to the complaint?
  8. What happens if the cemetery, crematory, and/or burial goods business does respond to the complaint?
  9. How long does an investigation take?
  10. Will an investigator come to my house?
  11. What is the purpose of an investigation?
  12. What happens if MOCO does not pursue regulatory charges based on my complaint?
  13. What happens if MOCO files regulatory charges based on my complaint?
  14. If there is a hearing based upon my complaint, do I need to appear at the hearing?
  15. What is the mediation program?
  16. Are complaints part of the public record?
  17. How do I benefit from filing a complaint?
  18. How can I contact my investigator?
  19. Which complaints are priorities for MOCO?
  20. Can the MOCO force their registrants to comply with the demands requested in submitted complaints against them?

1. How do I file a complaint?
The first step in the complaint process is to complete and sign a written complaint form. Complaint forms are available online (Word), or by visiting the Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight (MOCO). You may also call the Office at 410-230-6370 or 410-230-6229 to request that a complaint form be mailed to you.

2. How do I check a cemetery’s, crematory’s or burial goods business’ complaint history?
Anyone may check a registered cemetery’s, crematory’s or burial goods business’ complaint history by calling the Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., at 410-230-6370 or 410-230-6229 or by sending an e-mail to DLOPLCemeteryOversight-DLLR@maryland.gov. Complaints closed within the last five fiscal years are reportable to the public.

3. What information do I include with my complaint?
Please include the complaint form and copies of your original cemetery, crematory, or burial goods business documents to the MOCO. In addition to the specific information requested on the complaint form, you should attach a copy of all paperwork that will support the complaint, e.g., the security agreement/contract (front and back of all pages), memorial order form, memorial proof, interment order, etc. and proof of payment, such as copies of both sides of each check. In addition, please include any e-mails or other correspondence between you and the cemetery, crematory, or burial goods business. You may also include pictures or other evidence that will support the allegations contained in the complaint. Please make sure to fill out the complaint form completely and sign it.

4. Where do I send the complaint?
You may mail, fax, e-mail and/or hand-deliver the complaint to Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight; Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; 500 N. Calvert Street; Baltimore, MD 21202-3652. Complaints can be faxed to 410-962-8480 or e-mailed to DLOPLCemeteryOversight-DLLR@maryland.gov.

5. What happens after I file a complaint?
After MOCO receives your complaint, an investigator reviews your complaint to determine whether or not MOCO has jurisdiction over the complaint and sets up a complaint file. The registrant’s license information is added to the complaint file. Then, the MOCO’s investigator will contact you via e-mail or by phone confirming receipt of your complaint.

6. Does the cemetery, crematory and/or burial goods business receive a copy of the complaint?
After the complaint is reviewed by a MOCO investigator, the cemetery, crematory, and/or burial goods business is sent a copy of the complaint along with a letter with a response date. This document notifies the registrant of the complaint and requests a written response to the complaint within 14 days. In addition to responding to the specific allegations contained in the complaint, MOCO may require registrants to provide a copy of any documents related to the complaint.

If the cemetery, crematory, or burial goods business is not within MOCO’s jurisdiction, we will attempt to assist you using the information provided in the complaint to locate the proper party, and if found, send the complaint to that party with a letter requesting that a response be sent directly to you and a copy to MOCO.

In some cases, we are unable to determine the party to whom your complaint should be sent. In these cases, you will receive written notice from MOCO.

7. What happens if the cemetery, crematory and/or burial goods business does not respond to the complaint?
If the registrant cemetery, crematory and/or burial goods business does not respond to the Notice of Complaint, the director may hold a hearing and may issue a subpoena for the attendance of any witnesses to the complaint. The director may sue in the name of the state to enforce any provisions and may refer the matter to the Office of the Attorney General for enforcement or to enjoin any violation.

8. What happens if the cemetery, crematory and/or burial goods business does respond to the complaint?

  1. If the cemetery, crematory and/or burial goods business responds in writing to the complaint, the MOCO investigator will review their response to assure that all of the issues raised by the complainant have been addressed.
  2. If the registrant has not responded, the investigator will request additional information from all parties named in the complaint, in order to move the case toward resolution. At this point, the MOCO Investigator will review the open complaint with the MOCO director for procedural guidance and/or closure approval.

9. How long does an investigation take?
MOCO’s goal is to complete each investigation within 60 days of receiving the registrant’s response. Some investigations take additional time depending on the complexity of the complaint and the cooperation of all parties.

10. Will an investigator come to my house?
Most likely, an investigator will not come to your house. Instead, MOCO relies upon the complainant to provide photographs and other evidence to support the complaint. In certain cases, MOCO may send an investigator to conduct an on-site visit of the registrant’s business. Also, at the request of the MOCO director, an on-site meeting at the cemetery, crematory and/or burial goods business, may be requested between all parties to the complaint.

11. What is the purpose of an investigation?
To protect Maryland citizens from unfair and unscrupulous practices, MOCO determines and enforces the ethical standards related to the operation of cemeteries, crematories and those businesses related to the provision of burial goods and services within the state.

12. What happens if MOCO does not pursue regulatory charges based on my complaint?
If MOCO does not pursue regulatory charges against the registrant based upon the complaint you filed, then MOCO will administratively close the complaint. At that point, you will be notified in writing that the complaint is closed. You may have the right to file a claim against the registrant in a civil lawsuit in court.

13. What happens if MOCO files regulatory charges based on my complaint?
If MOCO files regulatory charges against their registrant cemetery, crematory and/ burial goods businesses, they will receive a copy of the Statement of Charges and a hearing notice. Hearings are held by the director, or delegated to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Based upon the number and severity of the charges, if the director or the ALJ finds that the registrant violated the law or regulations addressed in Title 5, Business Regulation, Annotated Code of Maryland, the registrant may be fined up to $5,000 per violation. In addition, the registrant’s license may be suspended or revoked.

14. If there is a hearing based upon my complaint, do I need to appear at the hearing?
Yes, whenever the Office holds a regulatory hearing, it is necessary for the complainant who filed the complaint to appear and testify in support of the allegations contained in the complaint. If the complainant does not appear to testify at the hearing, the regulatory charges against the registrant may be dropped, in which case the complaint will be dismissed.

15. What is the mediation program?
MOCO offers mediation conferences, free of charge, to consumers and registrants who are interested in working together to resolve their disputes. During the mediation conference, the parties will meet at a convenient time and location with the MOCO director who will listen to both sides and then work to create a solution that benefits all parties. If the parties reach an agreement during the mediation conference, MOCO will consider the complaint to be resolved. If either party elects not to participate in the mediation conference, the MOCO director may recommend that the parties submit their dispute to binding arbitration. If either party is unwilling to participate in binding arbitration, the MOCO director, if warranted, may proceed with disciplinary action against the registrant or permit holder.

16. Are complaints part of the public record?
No. MOCO does not publish complaints made against its registrants on the MOCO website. However, anyone may check a registered cemetery’s, crematory’s or burial goods business’ complaint history by calling the Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., at 410-230-6370 or 410-230-6229 or by sending an e-mail to DLOPLCemeteryOversight-DLLR@maryland.gov. Complaints closed within the last five fiscal years are reportable to the public.

17. How do I benefit from filing a complaint?
The complaint triggers a regulatory investigation, whose purpose is to determine if the registrant has violated any laws or regulations outlined in Title 5, Business Regulation, Annotated Code of Maryland. The complainant may not directly benefit from this investigation, which is aimed at protecting the public by upholding the professional standards of the death care industry in Maryland, as it pertains to registered cemeteries, crematories, and/or burial goods businesses. However, in some cases, MOCO will work with the complainant and the registrant to settle a complaint whereby MOCO agrees to not pursue regulatory charges against the registrant if the registrant agrees to make amends that are fair to both parties.

18. How can I contact my investigator?
Investigators are scheduled to visit registrants throughout the state. Therefore, the best way to communicate with the investigator assigned to the complaint is by e-mail or voicemail.

19. Which complaints are priorities for MOCO?
All complaints that are submitted to MOCO are treated seriously. However, complaints that involve public health and safety issues may need to be expedited immediately and therefore may take priority over the handling of complaints that do not involve these types of issues.

20. Can MOCO force its registrants to comply with the demands requested in submitted complaints against them?
Yes. MOCO does not have the specific authority to issue an order to a cemetery, crematory and/or burial goods business to correct a violation or error that results in a complaint. However, the director has the authority to issue a cease-and-desist letter or to ask a court to issue an injunction against a registrant’s practices. Additionally, because the director is authorized to levy a civil penalty or to suspend or revoke a registrant’s license, registrants are often willing to correct items in an effort to resolve complaints filed with MOCO in order to avoid these sanctions.