How Can I Stop Junk Faxes?

I keep getting unsolicited advertisement spam sent to my office fax machine. Who are these people and how do I get them to stop faxing me?

You have my sympathies. Junk faxes are costly and time-consuming. Fortunately, several laws have already been put into place to keep these companies from costing you more money. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 made it illegal for advertisers to send unsolicited faxes, and the Junk Fax Prevention Act (JFPA) of 2005 required that advertisers put an opt-out phone number on all faxes sent.

The easiest course of action would be to call the voice or customer service numbers listed on the fax and politely explain that you want to be removed from the faxing list immediately. If there is no voice or opt-out number, try looking up the company on the internet or using a reverse phone search tool. Do not fax the spammer back. If the company refuses to remove you from the list or continues to send you unsolicited faxes, you will need to take stronger action.

You can start by filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They have an online FCC complaint form that makes the process fairly simple, and they fine companies based on how many complaints are made. Another option is to call the spammer’s customer service number every time you receive a fax. By tying up their line, wasting their time and costing them money, you make yourself more of a nuisance than you are worth. (Of course, that wastes your time, too.) However, do not think that you can get even by sending unsolicited faxes back. That behavior is illegal and could easily backfire on you.

A final option is to sue. You are entitled to $500 per unsolicited fax, and that amount can be tripled if the case is taken to court. Something to remember, though, is that the JFPA also made it legal for companies who have an established business relationship (EBR) with you to send you advertisements over fax (provided that they include an opt-out number.) That means that any two-way business interaction you have had with a company could make it legal for them to send you a fax.

Some tricky fax spammers conveniently locate themselves outside of the U.S., where U.S.-based laws don’t touch them. When that’s the case, I know of very little you can do to stop the onslaught. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Junk Fax Prevention Act don’t affect them, so they’re more or less beyond the reach of the law. It used to be too expensive to spammers to fax internationally, but cheap, IP-based telephony has made international fax spam cheaper than ever. You might be able to ask your phone company to refuse any incoming calls from the offending country or area code. If your phone company can even do this, remember that it will block all faxes from that area, including legitimate ones.

If you are overwhelmed with problems like these, you could always switch to email or Internet faxing, which allows you to view the fax before you print it out, thereby saving you paper and ink costs. The services listed on my faxing guide are all great options. You might also want to check out my fax service comparison site,, to help you find a more general service that matches your price range and needs.

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