On Friday December 12th, 2008, the state of Indiana filed a lawsuit on Friday against Texas-based company Envarion Corp. for sending a record-breaking number of junk faxes.
Junk Fax Lawsuit
Faxed advertisements from Envarion were sent to 57 different counties in Indiana and garnered 1,842 complaints, which is the largest number of recorded infractions since the state’s Do Not Fax law was enacted in last year (source: InsideIndianaBusiness.com). Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter is quoted as saying, “These fax offers are frustrating for business owners who bear the brunt of the costs of unsolicited junk faxes. We don’t want Indiana citizens wasting their time sorting through unwanted piles of paper each day. Home-based businesses also have the added frustration of interrupted privacy during the owners’ time spent with family.”
Understanding Why Unsolicited Faxing Happens
Junk fax lawsuits never fail to surprise me. No matter how many states enact anti-junk fax laws, the problem of receiving unsolicited advertisements through fax machines doesn’t seem to disappear. This lawsuit is just the latest case of unwanted faxes to surface in the news. And it likely won’t be the last. Though we can’t be entirely sure of the reasoning behind sending junk faxes, we can guess that companies who do it either don’t realize the consequences of sending junk faxes (which isn’t very likely) or choose to disregard the consequences in favor of large-scale advertising through a relatively low-cost medium. The latter reason is also the reason why we still find spam e-mails in our inboxes despite the CAN-SPAM Act and other anti-spam legislation.
Realistically speaking, laws can only do so much. Despite the fact that we have laws that are supposed to deter people from despicable actions, there is a small minority who will break the rules for their own gain. That said, when a threat to our privacy and freedom exists, good sense dictates that we ought to take every measure available to prevent something bad from happening. In other words, be proactive.
Let’s use spam email as an example. If you keep getting spam emails sent to your inbox, what do you typically do? Do you automatically call up your email host and complain that someone is violating the CAN-SPAM Act and then wait for them to take care of the problem? You would probably make sure to follow appropriate procedures to eliminate spam on your own first. You’d mark the messages as spam, add them to your blocked senders list, be careful not to open similar messages in the future, and report the sender to anti-spam organizations and blacklists. If we can be proactive when it comes to email, why can’t we be just as proactive when it comes to faxes? After all, junk faxes can be much more costly and more time-consuming than junk emails. Faxes waste paper, toner and the time you could have spent sending or receiving necessary faxes. For that reason, I strongly advocate using online fax services.
One of the biggest advantages of using an internet fax service is that your service provides you with an online interface that allows you to see where an incoming fax is coming from and who’s sending it. Your received faxes are stored on hosted web space that you can access through a login. This feature allows you to choose the faxes you wish to print and to delete the faxes that you suspect are junk. If you wish to tie your fax account to an email address, you can view the received fax in your inbox and easily delete junk faxes.
With an internet fax service, you are also able to alert your provider to junk faxers and easily block them, or simply choose not to print them. The service can potentially save you from a lot of grief and is as low as $10 a month, which is cheaper than the cost of a dedicated phone line. It really is that easy and that sensible. And it’s there for a reason. Please, for the love of God, I don’t want to hear any more about junk fax problems in 2009. Start using online fax today.