Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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ASK THE ATTORNEY GENERAL : How Do I stop junk faxes?

?JUST THE FAX?

You have been selected for a 10-day European cruise. Disney World for only $99 a person. Beach front land in Florida for only $200 down. It sounds too good to be true and generally speaking, it is. If you have seen faxes like this before then you know how annoying junk faxes can be. However, what you may not know is that they are prohibited in the United States and that consumers like yourself are protected against them.

How am I protected against unwanted faxes?

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a federal law, makes it illegal in most circumstances to send unsolicited faxes. In addition, the federal Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 prohibits using a fax machine or computer to send unsolicited faxes.

TCPA and the Junk Fax Prevention Act prohibit:

  • Any person within the United States from sending unsolicited advertisements to a fax machine.
  • Any fax advertising property, goods, or services without a consumer?s direct invitation or permission. 
     

TCPA and the Junk Fax Prevention Act require:

  • Companies sending faxes advertising property, goods, or services to have an ?existing business relationship? with the consumer who is receiving the fax.
  • Fax advertisements to include clearly marked date, time, sender?s name and telephone number of the machine from which the fax is sent.
  • A conspicuous notice on the first page of the fax that allows recipients to request no further solicited advertisements.
  • The notice must include a telephone and fax number for the responses.
  • What types of faxes can be considered unlawful?

Faxes that you receive at your home or business that advertise the sale of goods or services can be considered unlawful. However, if you receive a fax advertising the sale of goods or services that you have inquired about, applied for, or purchased in the past, then it is assumed that an ?existing business relationship? exists between yourself and the company which sent the fax. In these instances the fax is regarded as being lawful the first time it is sent. You may then request that your name and fax number be removed from their distribution list.

What about deceptive faxes?

The Pennsylvania Unsolicited Telecommunications Advertisement Act or ?spam law? protects consumers from any fax that includes false or misleading information in the subject line, return addresses, or false and misleading return addresses and telephone numbers which could be used to ?opt out? of future messages. Under the Unsolicited Telecommunications Advertisement Act a consumer may report receipt of a fax that includes false and misleading information.

 If I?m not a business and I receive these types of faxes at home, will I still be protected?

Residential consumers receive the same protection against unwelcomed faxes as businesses. For additional information on junk faxes or to report a violation, call the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or use our online consumer complaint form.