How To Stop Fax Spam

Category: Fax

If you own a fax machine, you may be afflicted by fax spam -- unsolicited faxes advertising commercial products. Fax spam is even more offensive than email spam because it costs the victim money. Fax spammers are using YOUR paper and ink or toner to deliver their unwanted messages. Here's what works to eliminate fax spam...

Put an End to Junk Faxes

Your first thought might be to put your fax number on the "do not call list." But unfortunately, that won't help you stop fax spam. "Do Not Call" laws apply only to voice phone calls made to residential phone numbers. But there is a federal law designed to punish fax spammers.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Federal Communication Commission rules generally prohibit the sending of unsolicited fax advertisements. But there are some loopholes. Unfortunately, fax spam consisting of political or nonprofit advertisements is exempted from TCPA sanctions. So are fax ads sent by spammers to recipients with whom they have "an existing business relationship." The FCC rules define "existing business relationship" as follows:
Stop Fax Spam

"A prior or existing relationship formed by a voluntary two-way communication between a person or entity and a business or residential subscriber with or without an exchange of consideration [payment], on the basis of an inquiry, application, purchase or transaction by the business or residential subscriber regarding products or services offered by such person or entity, which relationship has not been previously terminated by either party."

Yes, it's confusing. Basically, you should avoid giving your fax number to anyone without a very good reason. Don't write your fax number on a request for quotation, membership application, or any other form unless you absolutely must receive a reply via fax. If you list your fax number in industry directories, add a note that you do not want unsolicited faxes.

Opting Out of Unwanted Faxes

The TCPA requires senders of unsolicited faxes to provide an opt-out method and describe it clearly on the first page of a faxed advertisement. The opt-out method may be a phone number, fax number, Web address, or email address. The opt-out method must be cost-free to the recipient, so any phone number should be toll-free or a local call. The opt-out method must be available 24/7. To opt out of fax advertisements, you must send a request noting the fax number from which the advertisements come using the prescribed opt-out method.

If you still receive fax spam you can file a complaint with the FCC online or by calling 888-225-5322. The FCC can issue warnings or citations to violators of the TCPA. You can also file complaints with your state and local consumer protection agencies, which are typically part of the State Attorney General's office. The TCPA also permits victims of fax spam to file civil lawsuits and claim $500 in damages for each unsolicited fax advertisement they receive. Such suits can usually be filed in small claims court; rules for filing vary from one jurisdiction to another.

A Better Solution: Online Faxing

The problem with all of these remedies is that they must be applied over and over, each time a new spammer gets your fax number and starts bombarding you with unwanted faxes. If you want to eliminate the problem entirely, move your faxing out of the dark ages. Wouldn't it great to eliminate your fax machine, all the expenses of the paper and toner, and the monthly cost of the fax line? Internet-based faxing makes it possible.

A fax-to-email service lets you receive all your inbound faxes right in your email inbox. From there, you can simply delete the ones you don't want. You only print the ones you DO want, eliminating the wasted paper and toner. You can transfer your fax line to an online faxing service, or let them assign you a new number, and drop your fax line entirely. Even better, my article Free Inbound Faxing will show you how to forward incoming faxes to your email for free. You can also send outbound faxes via the Internet. See my article Free Internet Faxing for details.

Do you have something to say about fax spam? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "How To Stop Fax Spam"

Posted by:

Lee McIntyre
13 May 2011

One area of concern with fax-to-email services is confidentiality. We all know not to put our Social Security number or credit card numbers in email messages, because email is less private than a post card.

Faxes sent directly to a physical fax machine are not subject to interception by bad guys, unless they have actually tapped your personal phone line.

HOWEVER, faxes converted to PDFs and attached to emails by fax-to-email services are just as vulnerable as the emails themselves. Less private than a post card.

The solution, if confidentiality is a concern, is to use services that will encrypt the PDF before sending it to you. Typically, you specify you want your faxes encrypted, and tell the company what password to use. All faxes they send will then open with that password.

An even more secure solution is to use a service that will send you an email notice of an incoming fax. Then you go to a secure web site, enter your password, and download the fax from there.

There are services that offer all three choices: (1) no encryption, (2) password-protected fax documents, and (3) email notification to download from a secure site.

I'm a long term satisfied customer of Freedom Voice Systems (http://www.faxfreedom.com/) I highly recommend them based on reliability, customer service, ease of use, and price.


Posted by:

pdsterling
13 May 2011

okay, this is great, however I have a virtual FAX - a toll free number, and it costs me 10ยข every time I get a spamfax. one can't believe the originating number is correct when this is only a scam to get personal data from me, so ? ? ?


Posted by:

Renier Emons
14 May 2011

This happened to me before the Internet in 1992 or 1993. I would find 20 odd pages in the morning with useless advertising. When this happened again the next day I sent a fax back requesting not to send any more faxes.
To my frustration they were there again the next day.
I then faxed back with the same request, but each word on a separate sheet of paper and in as large a font as the A4 size would allow; about 40 sheets I remember. That did the trick! I never received another fax.
I realize that nowadays with computer faxes it wouldn't do much good, but at the time it was effective.


Posted by:

Renier Emons
14 May 2011

This happened to me before the Internet in 1992 or 1993. I would find 20 odd pages in the morning with useless advertising. When this happened again the next day I sent a fax back requesting not to send any more faxes.
To my frustration they were there again the next day.
I then faxed back with the same request, but each word on a separate sheet of paper and in as large a font as the A4 size would allow; about 40 sheets I remember. That did the trick! I never received another fax.
I realize that nowadays with computer faxes it wouldn't do much good, but at the time it was effective.


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