Dealing with Junk Faxes

I set up an Internet fax service. Will I also be charged for all the sales junk ads that are sent to my fax number? Can I expect a lot of junk faxes?

The advent of the fax machine also presented a new venue in which overzealous or shady marketers send unwanted solicitations and advertisements to fax machine owners. Now, the “junk faxes” have carried over into the Internet-based fax arena.

Fortunately, many fax services don’t charge for receiving these unsolicited faxes, or they allow a generous number of free incoming pages (often 100 or more per month, even for low-end plans). Those that charge per minute usually limit that restriction to outgoing faxes only (those that you initiate yourself). If you have reason to expect that you will be the target of a large amount of junk faxes, be sure to select a service that allows an unlimited number of incoming faxes. Also, be aware that many Internet-based fax services have junk fax filters, which catch many of the spammy faxes before you ever see them. To compare prices and service plans, visit, an unbiased resource for easily assessing features of various services.

As to whether you should expect a lot of junk mail, it’s possible.

Legally, the transmission of fax ads without the “express permission” of the recipient is prohibited in the United States under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, the Telecommunications Privacy Act and the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005, all enacted by Congress and enforced by the Federal Communications Commission. But while the FCC has repeatedly issued fines for unsolicited fax ads, and legislators have sought to curtail fax abuse, the problem remains. Because no one should be sending unwanted fax ads (though some states may allow it if there’s an “established business relationship”), there is currently no fax equivalent of the “do not call” phone registry. If you do get junk faxes, consider notifying the FCC and the attorneys general in your state and the sender’s state—especially if the advertiser has already been fined. The wheels of fax justice turn slowly, but reporting junk faxes might make you feel better and ultimately makes a difference for others. You could also call (not fax) the sender and demand to be taken off their fax list, which has the effect of tying up their time that they would rather spend preparing more junk faxes.

Look at it this way: Since in your case the faxes are coming to you digitally, at least they’re not wasting your paper along with your time.

Do you have a question about faxing? Send me your fax question.