Junk Fax Laws and Regulations - Understanding What You Can Do!

How to Block Junk Fax Telemarketers 

Do you receive calls from a fax machine?  Does you fax machine spew out junk advertising?

These are typically calls from telemarketers autofax programs. Autofax dialers can produce, store, and dial telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator. Often, they dial every number in a sequence, hoping that some are valid and they will connect to a fax machine. 

Autofax programs typically send through a scam about stock market tips.  Once they do connect, they add the fax number to their list of valid fax machines for future pitches.  You've probably seen the stack of sleazy fax advertisements by your company fax machine.


To understand the revised rules, you must first understand the meaning of the terms "unsolicited advertisement" and "established business relationship."

As defined in FCC rules, an "unsolicited advertisement" is "any material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services which is transmitted to any person without that person's prior express invitation or permission, in writing or otherwise."

Also as defined in FCC rules, an "established business relationship" or EBR is "a prior or existing relationship formed by a voluntary two-way communication between a person or entity and a business or residential subscriber with or without an exchange of consideration [payment], on the basis of an inquiry, application, purchase or transaction by the business or residential subscriber regarding products or services offered by such person or entity, which relationship has not been previously terminated by either party."

How to Block Fax Calls

The FCC rules prohibit unsolicited fax advertisements (under most circumstances). In general, to stop unwanted fax advertisements, you must make an "opt-out" request which must:

  • identify the fax number or numbers to which it relates; and
  • be sent to the telephone number, fax number, Web site address, or e-mail address identified on the fax advertisement.

If you change your mind about receiving fax advertisements, you can subsequently grant express permission to receive faxes from a particular sender, orally or in writing.

This won't necessarily stop the faxes - especially if they are scammers deliberately violating the law, but it does give you the right to sue them

First, Try to Identify the Sender

See if the FCC has already researched the fax

Telecommunications Consumers Division - Unsolicited Faxes lists their citations. Often, you can search for the title of the fax, e.g., if you type "Wall Street Watch" in the search box on that page, you can find the offender.

See if someone else has identified the fax

Try searching here: Junk Fax Index

Try a google search on the response number or removal number.

Hire an expert

Contact one of Junk fax attorneys. They know the tricks to find the perpetrators. If they don't, they can contact us via the link and we'll talk to them about how to do it.

Call trap

The best way (but it is by far the most cumbersome) to identify who is sending you junk faxes is to enable a call trap on your phone line. After getting a junk fax, dial *57, and log the date and time on the fax. You can then either send a subpoena to the phone company or get a case number from the sheriff and send a subpoena to them. That will get you the number that called. Then you have to find the owner of those numbers which you can do via Abika as described on Investigation tools.


The FCC Fax Rules

The rules provide that it is unlawful to send unsolicited advertisements to any fax machine, including those at both businesses and residences, without the recipient's prior express invitation or permission. Fax advertisements, however, may be sent to recipients with whom the sender has an EBR, as long as the fax number was provided voluntarily by the recipient. Specifically, a fax advertisement may be sent to an EBR customer if the sender also:

  • obtains the fax number directly from the recipient, through, for example, an application, contact information form, or membership renewal form; or

  • obtains the fax number from the recipient's own directory, advertisement, or site on the Internet, unless the recipient has noted on such materials that it does not accept unsolicited advertisements at the fax number in question; or

  • has taken reasonable steps to verify that the recipient consented to have the number listed, if obtained from a directory or other source of information compiled by a third party.

If the sender had an EBR with the recipient and possessed the recipient's fax number before July 9, 2005 (the date the Junk Fax Prevention Act became law), the sender may send the fax advertisements without demonstrating how the number was obtained.

More Rules for Those Who Send Faxes

Opt-out Notice Requirements

Senders of permissible fax advertisements (those sent under an EBR or with the recipient's prior express permission) must provide notice and contact information on the fax that allows recipients to "opt-out" of future faxes. The notice must:

  • be clear and conspicuous and on the first page of the advertisement;

  • state that the recipient may make a request to the sender not to send any future faxes and that failure to comply with the request within 30 days is unlawful; and

  • include a telephone number, fax number, and cost-free mechanism (including a toll-free telephone number, local number for local recipients, toll-free fax number, Web site address, or e-mail address) to opt-out of faxes. These numbers and cost-free mechanism must permit consumers to make opt-out requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Senders who receive a request not to send further faxes that meets the requirements listed in the next section must honor that request within the shortest reasonable time from the date of the request, not to exceed 30 days. They are also prohibited from sending future fax advertisements to the recipient unless the recipient subsequently provides prior express permission to the sender.

Opt-out Requests By Consumers

To stop unwanted fax advertisements, your "opt-out" request must:

  • identify the fax number or numbers to which it relates; and

  • be sent to the telephone number, fax number, Web site address, or e-mail address identified on the fax advertisement.

If you change your mind about receiving fax advertisements, you can subsequently grant express permission to receive faxes from a particular sender, orally or in writing.

Fax Broadcasters

Often fax advertisements are sent in bulk on behalf of a business or entity by separate professional fax broadcasters. Generally, the person or business on whose behalf a fax is sent or whose property, goods, or services are advertised is liable for a violation of the junk fax rules, even if the person or business did not physically send the fax. A fax broadcaster also may be liable if it has a "high degree of involvement" in the sender's fax message, such as supplying the fax numbers to which the message is sent, providing a source of fax numbers, making representations about the legality of faxing to those numbers, or advising about how to comply with the junk fax rules. Also, if a fax broadcaster is "highly involved" in the sender's fax messages, the fax broadcaster must provide its name on the fax.

Fax Numbers and the National Do-Not-Call List

Registering a home phone number on the national Do-Not-Call list prevents only telephone solicitations directed to that number, not fax advertisements to your home or business fax number. For more information on our telephone telemarketer rules, see our how to block telemarketers.  The FCC's junk fax rules nevertheless prohibit fax advertisements unless you have an EBR with the sender or have given your prior express permission to receive the fax advertisements.

How the FCC Can Help

The FCC can issue warning citations and impose fines against companies violating or suspected of violating the junk fax rules, but does not award individual damages. If you have received a fax advertisement from someone who does not have an EBR with you or to whom you have not provided prior express permission to send fax advertisements, you can file a complaint with the FCC:

  • using the FTC's on-line complaint Form 1088 or
  • emailing fccinfo@fcc.gov; or
  • calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; or
  • faxing 1-866-418-0232; or
  • writing to:     Federal Communications Commission
                        Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
                        Consumer Inquiries & Complaints Division
                        445 12th Street, SW
                        Washington, DC 20554.

What to Include in Your Complaint

The best way to provide all the information needed for the FCC to process your junk fax complaint is to complete fully the on-line complaint Form 1088. The opening pages of the Form 1088 will direct you to the Form 1088A, which asks specific questions relevant to junk faxes. If you do not use the on-line complaint Form 1088, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:

  • your name, address, e-mail address, and phone number where you can be reached;

  • the home or business number where you received the unsolicited fax advertisement;

  • date and time of the fax;

  • whether the fax advertised or sold any property, goods, or services;

  • the sender's name, phone number, or number of the sending fax machine, and whether this information was provided on the first page or in a margin at the top or bottom of each page;

  • any other information such as Web site or e-mail address to help identify the sender or individual or company whose property, goods, or services were being advertised or sold;

  • any number, Web site, or e-mail address provided to allow you to "opt-out" of future faxes;

  • whether you or anyone else in your household or business gave the sender permission to fax an advertisement to you;

  • whether you have an EBR with the sender (specifically, whether you or anyone else in your household or business made any purchases of property, goods, or services from the sender, or made any inquiry or filed an application with the individual or company prior to receiving the fax); and

  • whether you or anyone in your household or business previously asked the sender or individual or company whose property, goods, or services are being advertised or sold NOT to fax, and when and how (call, e-mail, or Web site) you made the request.

You may also submit a copy of the fax with your complaint, either electronically or by fax or mail using the Consumer Center contact information above.

Additional Places to Go for Help

You can file TCPA-related complaints with your state authorities, including your local or state consumer protection office or your state Attorney General's office. Contact information for these organizations should be in the blue pages or government section of your local telephone directory.

How to Sue the Telemarketers

You can also bring a private suit against the violator in an appropriate court of your state. Through a private suit, you can either recover the actual monetary loss that resulted from the TCPA violation, or receive up to $500 in damages for each violation, whichever is greater. The court may triple the damages for each violation if it finds that the defendant willingly or knowingly committed the violation. Filing a complaint with the FCC does not prevent you from also bringing a suit in state court.

More questions?

See this list of frequently asked questions, direct from the FTC.

And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive.  We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!




For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.