Friday, May 17, 2002

George Mindling Column 5-17-2002


Stopping Unwanted Faxes


Tired of having unwanted faxes littering the floor .when you open your business in the morning? Out of fax paper due to the unwanted and unsolicited faxes using up your paper? Anyone who receives junk faxes can complain, not just businesses. The fix is easy, and you don't have to worry about calling different 800 numbers to remove your number from every one of those unwanted faxes.

Unsolicited faxes are not only against Florida law. but are also in violation of the 1991 Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Federal Communications Commission regulations also prohibit sending unsolicited advertisements, also known as "junk faxes," to fax machines. This prohibition applies to both businesses and residences. Stopping the unwanted faxes is a fairly straightforward procedure, but it is a responsibility of the state Attorney General's office.

A fax machine is able to send and receive data, either text or images over a telephone line. According to the FCC. an "unsolicited advertisement" is defined as “any material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services which is transmitted to any person without that person's prior express invitation or permission," Just because your fax number is published or distributed does not mean anyone has permission to send you unsolicited advertisements.

This approach has proven to be quite effective in stopping unwanted faxes. The state Attorney General's office first contacts the offender with copies of the illegal faxes, attached to copies of the Florida Statutes, and sends you a courtesy copy of the complaint to show who the offender really is.
That is usually enough to stop the fax "spam," but if the offender persists, it is a $500 penalty per offense, and the state will take action. The Economic Crimes Division of the Attorney General's Office investigates more than 100 cases a year.

Mail the offending faxes, along with a cover letter explaining who you are and that the faxes are unsolicited. Include your fax num­ber in the letter. If the sender puts your fax number on top of each page twice to blank theirs out, point out in your cover letter that the sender's number is unknown.
Mail the complaint and the faxes to: Economic Crimes Division, Office of the Attorney General, 110 S.E. Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale. FL 33301-5000.

Now, if we could find a way to stop unwanted e-mails.

George Mindling © 2002

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