Unwanted Faxes are Against the Law
If you’re being annoyed by junk faxes, you should know that you’re protected by federal fax spam laws. In 1991, Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in an attempt to put an end to annoying telemarketing calls and junk faxes. Other fax laws include the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and, later, the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005.
The TCPA specifically says that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can enact Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulations prohibiting junk faxes. The Junk Prevention Act of 2005 was enacted to change some of the FCC rule regarding junk faxes. In response to the new junk fax law, the FCC redefined what are considered to be junk faxes.
According to fax laws and FCC regulations, it’s a violation to send an advertising fax to home and business fax machines unless two conditions apply. First, a company can send an advertising fax to a home or business fax machine if there is an “established business relationship.” Essentially, this means that any company with whom you’ve done business can send you a fax. For example, if you purchased a sewing machine and the company later sends you a fax advertising sewing classes, that fax is legal. Similarly, if you attended a trade show and dropped your business card into a fishbowl at a vendor booth, and that vendor sends you a fax, that fax is legal.
Second, the FCC says that, in order for a fax to be legal under the “established business relationship” provision, the advertiser must have obtained your fax number in one of three ways:
- Directly from you (for example, on an application or registration form)
- From your directory, ad, or website (unless you explicitly state that you don’t accept unsolicited faxes)
- Though a third-party directory, providing the advertiser assures that you voluntarily provided your fax number to the directory.
While advertisers are allowed to send unwanted faxes if they have an established business relationship with you and obtained your fax number by legitimate means, you can still put a stop to unwanted faxes. According to FFC regulations, the faxer is required to include “opt-out” information on the first page of the fax. The statement must say that you can ask to opt out of receiving additional faxes from that sender, and that it is a violation if the sender doesn’t honor your request within 30 days. It must also include a fax number, telephone number and free way to enable you to opt out. This might include a toll-free number, a URL, or an email address. The regulations say that the sender must set up a mechanism where you can opt out 24-7-365.
The TCPA outlines that consumers and businesses can sue faxers that violate the regulations, and receive actual monetary damages or $500 for each page, whichever is greater. It also says that, if the violation occurs willfully and knowingly, the court can triple the damages.
If you believe a company has violated fax spam laws and regulations, or would like a free case evaluation, we urge you to contact us by completing our web form or calling us at 475-277-2200.