What is a Junk Fax?
Last Update: August 9th, 2021
- History of Junk Faxing
- Difference Between Broadcast and Junk Faxes
- Junk Fax Regulation and Laws
- Additional Resources
With the invention of the computer-based fax board in 1985, computers were able to dramatically increase the ability to transmit fax advertisements on a regular basis while drastically decreasing the cost to the advertiser.
In 2005, the US Congress passed the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 to amend the TCPA to no longer prohibit unsolicited fax advertisements if “the unsolicited advertisement is from a sender with an established business relationship with the recipient).
Recently, due to the proliferation of online fax services, as well as the reduction in costs of long distance services, there has been an increase in junk fax transmissions coming from areas outside of countries that have enacted laws against junk faxes.
For example, an accountant who broadcast faxes an annual reminder to a list of existing clients who have permitted communication via fax that tax deadlines are approaching is (in most cases) broadcasting a message to people that already have a business relationship with the organization.
As another example, a travel agency who broadcast faxes an advertisement for discount vacations to Hawaii 100 fax numbers they have found on the internet and has no prior business relationship is sending junk faxes through a broadcast fax method.
Whether or not a broadcast fax is junk or not depends on the laws regarding junk faxes, but not all broadcast faxes are junk faxes.
Laws in the United States involving Junk Faxes primarily revolve around the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (47 USC 227), The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005, and the rule changes the FCC implemented in April of 2006.
Many states have laws regarding junk faxes, and this can translate into different regulations depending on where a junk fax originates and where it is sent.
In the case of sending a junk fax , the FCC can investigate violators and impose fines. Complaints are investigated when a complaint is filed with the FCC.
Individuals can also bring a private suit against a junk fax violator, seeking to recover the monetary loss or $500 in damages for each violation (whichever is greater). This penalty can, if the court decides, be tripled if it is found that the defendant acted “willingly or knowingly.”
FCC penalties can be up to $11,000 per junk fax transmitted.
In Canada, there is no mechanism for individuals to sue the senders of junk faxes. However, unsolicited faxes must follow certain guidelines as regulated by the CRTC.
Canadian regulations regarding unsolicited faxes can be found under Order CRTC 2001-193.
As the CMA’s Do Not Call List is relatively public information, there have been situations where telemarketers and junk fax senders from international locations have used the database to send junk faxes to, outside of Canadian law.
For more information, as well as sources of this article, please see:
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- FCC – File a Complaint
- FCC Consumer Fact Sheet – Fax Advertising – What You Need to Know
- FCC Fax Policy
- FCC Fax Advertising Guide
- JunkFax.org – Comprehensive Website about junk faxes and how to deal with them
- Missouri v. American Blast Fax – example of a legal challenge involving junk faxing
- Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
- Order CRTC 2001-193 (Canadian Junk Fax Regulation)
- Government of Canada National Do Not Call List
- BusinessEdge.ca – “CRTC Ruling Slaps Limits on Unsolicited Fax Callers”