Get a Free Inbound Fax Number

Category: Fax

A reader asks: 'I occasionally need to receive an inbound fax, but I don't own a fax machine. Going to Kinko's or the local drugstore to pick up a fax is a nuisance, and nothing is private there. Is there some way to get my faxes online, but still have a real phone number that people can use to send faxes to me? Oh, and free is nice...' The answer is YES -- and here's how to get your own free fax number...

Get Your FREE Inbound Fax Number and Receive Faxes for Free

Yes, you can get inbound faxes delivered to you electronically, for free. There are several ways to get a free fax number that will forward incoming faxes to you via email or web, and the senders will never know you don't have a real fax machine. Fax machines are so 1990... free online faxing (both inbound and outbound) is the way the cool kids do it now. :-)

One option for free inbound fax to email service is K7. Sign up for a free account, and you'll get your own private incoming fax number, which you can give to anyone who wants to send you a fax. You can choose to receive incoming faxes in your email inbox, read them on the K7 website, or both. K7 can also act as a free voice mailbox, but if you plan to use K7 only for incoming faxes, select the Fax Only (fax tone only, no message) option when creating your account.

Free inbound faxing

K7 is truly free, but there are some limitations on the service. First, you must activate your new K7 number by sending a voice or fax message within 72 hours, or it will be terminated for non-use. Also, your K7 number must receive at least one incoming voice or fax call every 30 days, or the account will be terminated. (If your account is terminated, you can register online for a new account, but you probably won't get the same number.)


FaxBetter offers a free toll free fax number to anyone. Faxes are received in your email inbox as a PDF attachment. That's pretty standard, but what separates FaxBetter is that all faxes received are OCRed. This means the actual text from the fax is extracted by Optical Character Recognition and is then embedded into the body of the email, thus making the email searchable in your email program (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.). The free service is limited to 20 incoming pages per month, and you have to receive a fax every 7 days to keep your free toll free fax number. Unfortunately, the ability to forward faxes to your email inbox is only free for 30 days. But you can still retrieve your incoming faxes on the FaxBetter website.


If you're looking for a free OUTBOUND faxing service that's free and requires no fax machine, check out my companion article Send a Free Fax for the scoop on free Internet faxing.

eFax is another well known free fax service online. They offer three different account types. The eFax FREE account, also referred to as their Limited Account, will provide you with a non-local fax line and up to 10 incoming fax pages. But be aware that they call it "Limited" for a good reason. If you receive more than 10 fax pages in any thirty day period, eFax may terminate or suspend your account if you do not upgrade to a paid subscription service. The eFaxPro package will let you receive 200 faxes a month and will allow you to send faxes from your email for less than $20 per month. The eFaxPlus program is a few dollars cheaper per month and will let you receive up to 150 faxes per month, as well as send faxes through your email account. You can also bring an existing number to eFax, if you want to junk your dinosaur fax machine and go digital.

NOTE: Lots of people write to me and say eFax is not free! But it really is. You just have to scroll down to the bottom of the page, where it says "Fill Out This Form to Start Using eFax Free." Don't click the red buttons to sign up for a paid or trial account.


Finally, there's Voxox. This option requires you to download a "client" app that runs on your PC, Mac, Android or iPhone. After starting the client and creating your account, you'll need to provide a mobile number to get an activation code in a text message. Enter that code, and under "My Numbers" you'll see your free Voxox number. It's a bit confusing, but there is no need to buy credits or a virtual number.

Login to the Voxox client with the username and password you specified earlier. Click File / Preferences / Notifications, then check the box(es) on the "New Fax" line for email and/or text notifications of incoming faxes. Incoming faxes are directed to your inbox, and can also be viewed with the Voxox client. Vovox doesn't seem to have any limits on the number of incoming faxes, but I found the process of having to download the software, create an account, figure out that I didn't really need to buy credits, a bit confusing. It also took a lot of bouncing back and forth between the Vovox website and the Vovox client app to discover that I needed to configure the fax-to-email option before incoming faxes would be forwarded to my email inbox.

Almost Free, But Maybe Better

My favorite inbound fax service is Faxaway. This company has been in business since 1995 and despite their "Web 0.9" website, the service is rock solid. Sign up for a Faxaway account and it will allow you to receive faxes and voicemails via your email account. The only catch is that it's not quite free, but it is really cheap. There is a small account maintenance charge of $1 monthly, but here's why I think that's a bargain: Unlike the other free inbound faxing services listed here, there's no limit to the number of inbound faxes you can receive, and your Faxaway number will never expire.

Like the other services, Faxaway gives you a real fax number that you can give to anyone who wants to send a fax to you. When that fax number receives an inbound fax, Faxaway answers the call, saves the fax as a TIF image, and forwards it on to your email address. I don't care if they do it with computers, pigeons or monkeys -- it just works every time. The only downsides are no OCR capability, and you probably won't get a local fax number. Mine is in a Seattle area code, and I'm in New York, but that's never been a problem for me. I've had a Faxaway account for years, and have always enjoyed the service without any interruptions.


I live out of my inbox, so it's nice to be able to search and refer back to faxes I received a while ago. Oh, and I get to choose whether or not they are printed. If you've ever come home and found 100 junk faxes piled on the floor beneath your fax machine, unplug that beast and make the switch to email-based incoming faxes.

In addition to Faxaway, eFax and the others mentioned in this article, there are other fax-to-email services, some of which offer free trials. I can't personally recommend any of those because I have not used them. If you've found one that you like, feel free to post a comment below...

 
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Posted by on 12 Nov 2013


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Most recent comments on "Get a Free Inbound Fax Number"

Posted by:

Felipe Galvan
12 Nov 2013

I have been using K7 for a long time. I saves on having the fax machine turned on. No more paying for fax paper or ink or an extra phone line. I get all of my faxs in my e-mail box. Unlimited incoming faxs for free. Unable to find a free unlimited outgoing service so I just turn on my fax machine only when I have to fax out. K7 is just GREAT !


Posted by:

Stuart Berg
12 Nov 2013

Here's a little known secret about eFAX: Their FAX attachment file has a ".efx" extension. Because of that, they require that you download and install their Messenger software to open and read the attachment. All they've done is change the ".tif" extension to ".efx". So You don't need to install their Messenger software. Just change the extension name back to ".tif" and open the file with any software that opens a ".tif" file. An example would be Irfanview, which opens TIF files as well of many, many other types of files.


Posted by:

Carole
12 Nov 2013

I use Windows software to send & receive faxes. You do have to have a land line in order to be able to pull it off. Been doing this for at least 10 yrs.


Posted by:

Nick Zales
12 Nov 2013

Great article! Keep up the good work, Bob!


Posted by:

Don
13 Nov 2013

I went to the efax homepage. The only option for free is a 30 day free trial.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Why did you go there? The link I gave for the FREE offer is correct.


Posted by:

Maury
13 Nov 2013

Only in the U.S.A.? or e.g. New Zealand?


Posted by:

Joyce
13 Nov 2013

What is the difference between eFax Free® and eFax Plus®? With eFax Plus, you are provided with:

•a local or toll-free number.
•the ability to send and receive faxes.
•lifetime fax storage in eFax Message Center for life of account.

eFax Free is a limited account. When you sign up for eFax Free, you are provided with:

•a non-local number to which you may receive faxes.
•30 days fax storage in eFax Message Center.
•You cannot send faxes with eFax Free.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm assuming your question was rhetorical, since you answered it yourself. :-)


Posted by:

RandiO
14 Nov 2013

Another great topic, Mr. Bob Rankin.
But I also have a few rhetorical questions myself.
For example:
1) Why do we really need a "Fax" service in the 21st Century?
2) What is exactly the use/need for a fax (HW or SW) that cannot be achieved via the digital file types of a PDF or a TIFF/JPEG/PNG, or etc.?
3) Why can't an OCR be used to convert an image file containing text, w/o the need for a "fax machine"?

In the case of Vonage VoIP, their website provides the following information for those who insist on maintaining a hardware fax machine: "NOTE: Your Vonage voice line is not optimized for fax service, however, you can send and receive an occasional fax on this line. To do so, you must unplug the telephone cord used for voice services from the port on the Vonage adapter and plug the cord from your fax machine into that same port."


Posted by:

Hira
15 Nov 2013

Thanks Bob. Very nice article. I was looking for a free inbound fax number and this article helped me.

~ Hira

@ Maury - eFax is in few countries


Posted by:

Buffet
17 Nov 2013

Ultra cool. Thanks man!


Posted by:

George
31 Dec 2013

Thanks Bob. Great article. I went with Fax Away and found they do also provide .PDF format for inbound faxes. That is great for me. Should save me $16 per month over current Efax service (but without a local number). Happy New Year!


Posted by:

manish wadhawan
09 Feb 2014

Thanks a lot for sharing info.
Keep it up
regards manish


Posted by:

Scott
25 Mar 2014

Hi guys,
Just to add another thing in the list, guys who are looking for a fax to email solution and want there fax number to be a non US and a normal landline or fax number rather than those premium rate numbers should check out www.advancefone.com .
Advancefone provides virtual fax numbers something around in 40 countries , you can receive phone calls and faxes on same number. pretty good calling rates for outbound phone calls as well.
here is link:
www.advancefone.com


Posted by:

Marshall Spevak
09 Apr 2014

Hello Bob, Thanks for the informative article. I'm stuck at "It also took a lot of bouncing back and forth between the Vovox website and the Vovox client app to discover that I needed to configure the fax-to-email option before incoming faxes would be forwarded to my email inbox." Do you have any suggestions on how to do the last step in this process? Thanks so much. Marshall


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