Junk Fax – Resources and Regulation

Similar to email spam and junk mail, junk faxes are a form of telemarketing that sends unsolicited advertisements and through fax machines.

Table of ContentsJunk Faxes

History of Junk Faxing

As fax machines grew in popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, junk faxing became a way for many advertisers to reach prospective customers.

With the invention of a 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.

The United States passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in 1991, and the volume of junk faxes and fax advertising started to decrease.

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).

In April 2006, the FCC implemented changes to existing fax advertising rules of the TCPA with the intention of further reducing the level of junk fax advertising.

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.

Difference Between a Broadcast Fax and a Junk Fax

A broadcast fax is a fax that is sent to multiple people in a programmed sequential transmission. A person sending a broadcast fax sends the same fax to many different people in their broadcast.

In this case, a broadcast fax is a junk fax if it falls under the rules of 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) simply 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.

Junk Fax Regulations and Laws

United States

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 their own laws regarding junk faxes, and this can translate into different regulations depending on where a junk fax originates from and where it is sent to.

In the case of a junk fax being sent, the FCC can investigate violators and impose fines. Complaints are investigated when a complaint is filed through 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 (which ever 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.

Canada

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.

Canada also offers the Canadian Marketing Association’s Do-Not-Call list, which is voluntarily followed by business and not subject to law.

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.

Additional Resources:

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