What is Black Fax (Disabling of a Fax Machine)?
Last Update: August 9th, 2021
With every invention and piece of technology that comes along, someone finds a way to use it for the wrong reasons.
Table of Contents
- What is a Black Fax?
- How is a Black Fax Sent?
- When are Black Faxes Used?
- What are the Costs of Black Faxes?
- Can a Black Fax be Avoided?
- Is it Legal to Send a Black Fax?
This can result in a company or organization being shut down and unable to conduct business.
A black fax is sent by repeatedly sending a completely black page through a fax transmission over and over to another fax machine.
The black fax will cause excessive use of the victim fax machine’s ink and toner, and in some circumstances may cause it to become overwhelmed and either mechanically or electronically shut down.
At times, a string of pure black pieces of paper are taped together with the intention of continuously feeding the black paper through the fax machine, resulting in an almost endless black fax attack.
Documented events of black faxes occurring have happened with:
- Disgruntled employees taking revenge at former employers
- People using black faxes in retaliation when they feel they have received spam through fax advertising
- The case United States of America v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA, Inc. included a situation of one organization allegedly black faxing another.
The costs depend entirely on the type of fax machine used, as well if there is an internet, online, or email fax service in operation.
If a hard-copy fax machine is used (depending on toner costs as well as wear and tear on the equipment), the costs can be anywhere from $1 per page in toner costs to much higher if part of the printing mechanism is overloaded and needs replacement.
In many cases, there is nothing that can be done to avoid the transmission of a black fax.
There are, however, ways to mitigate the costs involved with a black fax:
- If you use an online fax service to manage faxes, in many cases you can delete the offending faxes without having to print them. As well, many online fax services will have in place an option to block phone numbers that have transmitted black or junk faxes to your number.
- If you are at the machine while the black fax is transmitted, you can stop the current transmission.
Is there technology that can prevent black faxes?
According to JunkFax.org, “If the fax violates 47 C.F.R. § 68.318(d) which specifies header requirements, it’s illegal, whether it was solicited or not. All faxes must comply with the header requirements.”
In some cases, there is a reason to sue both the companies and the individuals involved (this is not to be taken as legal advice).
This site does not support the use of black faxes for any reason, and this article is intended solely to help people who have been black faxed understand what has happened with their systems and to encourage manufacturers of fax technology put filters in place to detect and avoid black fax transmissions.