Unsolicited faxes could get senders in trouble

Beginning next Monday, unsolicited advertising and sales materials may not be sent via facsimile machine without prior written consent of recipients.

The regulation, which coincides with the Federal Communication Commission and Federal Trade Commission’s recent National Do Not Call Registry roll out, will affect business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer dealings.

Many national organizations have objected to the new FCC fax rule, citing the organizations’ failure to seek public comment as a major factor in the opposition.

The new fax rule requires that any business representatives intending on faxing advertisements or other business-related sales materials must get written, signed permission from the recipient.

The written permission must also include a statement clearly illustrating that the recipient consents to receiving these business materials at a fax number listed for every fax number listed on the consent.

Under the new regulation, a company will no longer be able to fax promotional advertisements or sales materials without getting a recipient’s prior approval.

This rule applies to faxes sent by stand-alone machines, computerized fax servers and computers with attached modems. It does not apply to faxes sent as e-mail over the Internet.

Failure to comply with new facsimile rules will result in a $500 fine per infraction, as well as other FCC enforcement.

Last month, FCC officials issued a change in regulations for unsolicited faxes that contain sales and advertising with regards to existing business relationships.

In this previous-business-relationship situation, company officials could assume that recipients would want to continue ongoing and current partnerships.

Under the rule adopted by the FCC, company representatives will be required to have signed and written statements of permission for each and every fax number intended to contact.

Business Editor Barry Graham can be reached at bgraham@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 251).

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