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Apr 28, 2005

Junk Fax Solution

by Jamie Court
The following commentary was broadcast on the Marketplace Radio Program on NPR, on Thursday, April 28th, 2005. (Click here to listen to the audio of the commentary.):
DAVID BROWN, anchor: This is MARKETPLACE from American Public Media. I'm David Brown.

Coming soon to the Senate floor, the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005. Consumer advocate and commentator Jamie Court says don't let the name fool you.

JAMIE COURT: What's that screeching sound waking you at 2 AM? The neighbors running over
the cat? No, it's a fax, another junk fax, marketing $99 airfare to Cancun. Junk faxes waste your time, paper, toner, and that means money. There ought to be a law. Well, there is. For every unsolicited junk fax, you can get between 500 and 1,500 bucks from the sender under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. That's right, enough to pay for a few sessions of sleep therapy. Sure, you can't take every junk fax to the small claims court. Some move overseas. But you can still write a letter, reciting the law to the offending business and demanding the money. You'll likely get it.

The really guilty parties are fax blasters, who sell their services to many small businesses that don't necessarily know they could get sued. My consumer group's collected thousands of dollars from fax blasters and other offenders, including a restaurant founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger. So the current law works. The Federal Communication Commission is poised to issue regulations this summer, clarifying a junk faxer specifically needs your written permission to fax you. That should put the junk fax lobby out of business, and that's why it's convincing Congress to change the law. The US Senate is expected to pass new legislation giving junk faxers immunity if they can claim a prior business relationship. So if you've ever flown an airline, it can fax you about the cheap seats to Cancun. Who said Congress doesn't work for somebody?

BROWN: Jamie Court's Web site is

Got a thought about all this? Send it to our Web site:

TAKE ACTION (FROM FTCR): Want to stop the bill (S.714)? Fax your junk faxes to the white house at 202-456-2461. Preferably do it at 2 AM.

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