Fax Sent to the Wrong Number

I sent a fax to the wrong fax number. I got a confirmation that it was received, and when I called the number it’s definitely a fax line. The information I sent was very sensitive. How do I find out where I sent it?

Yikes! Sending a fax to the wrong number can be embarrassing or a waste of time, but it’s usually not cause for panic. Most mistaken recipients aren’t jerks who will misuse information. They will probably just throw away the fax.

However, if the content of your message put yourself or someone else at personal or financial risk, you may want to try to track down the recipient and ensure that the fax was discarded. The easiest way to find the owner of a fax number is to simply input the 10-digit number into Google’s search box. In many cases, the results will show a business, government, or other web page that includes the number. Then, you can call or email the associated entity and explain what happened and why you’re worried.

If Google doesn’t uncover the number’s owner, you could try a reverse phone directory such as AnyWho. Most include fax numbers as well as land lines.

Make sure that the fax cover sheet clearly states to whom the fax was supposed to be directed and includes language noting that the content of the document is confidential, for the intended recipient only, and should be disregarded if wrongly received.

If you are faxing on behalf of a business that’s required by law to guard personal information, exercise extreme caution by triple-checking fax numbers before you hit “Send.” For medical faxes, considered a HIPAA-compliant fax cover sheet. I recently read of a case where a medical office mistakenly faxed a patient’s private information to his employer, resulting in a referral to a government oversight agency.

If your misdirected fax could affect a third party, the ethical thing to do is give them a heads-up.

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