Fax Machine with Confidential Mailbox?

I am interested in obtaining a fax machine which has a confidential mailbox facility but have been told that other people won’t be able to send faxes to the machine unless their machine also has the facility. Could you explain whether this is true or whether you can fax to a confidential mailbox from any machine?

Some fax machines do have a password-protected receive mode. When activated, the machine stores incoming pages in its memory and will print them only after the correct password is entered. The sender does nothing different in sending the fax: there is no option on the sender’s end to choose whether the fax will be secure or not. As a result, any fax machine can send to this machine, and to the sender it will appear to have been transmitted normally. The fax just won’t get printed until the password is entered by the recipient.

The Sharp UXB-700E fax machine is one model with password-protected receive mode. It has memory for about 100 pages.

However, there’s another type of confidential mailbox function, which may be confusing the issue a little. Many models of fax machines can record voice messages as well as receive faxes — that is, they work as fax machines and voice answering machines. In my experience, the private mailbox feature of these machines is limited to voice messages; faxes cannot be delivered privately.

With private mailboxes set up for voicemail, a caller might hear “To leave a message for Bob, press 1. To leave a message for Amy, press 2.” Later, Bob or Amy can pick up their private voice messages with their secret codes. But if the caller sends a fax, it will just print and sit on the machine for Bob or Amy (or anyone else who wanders by) to pick up and read.

Some product examples: Panasonic KX-FPG391 (Plain Paper Fax/Copier, Cordless Phone System and Digital Answering System) features up to three mailboxes. One for general use and two private mailboxes that can be protected with passwords. It costs about $199. Somewhat cheaper is the Panasonic KX-FP145, but it only features two mailboxes — one for general use and one private mailbox that can be protected with a password.

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