Plan Allows Businesses to Junk Fax Any Customer From Past Seven Years
Santa Monica, CA — A Senate proposal to amend the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) will result in a massive increase in unwanted faxes into homes and offices around the country. The bill, S. 2603 (Smith), improperly titled the Junk Fax Prevention Act, would allow businesses with an “established business relationship” to send unsolicited faxes and prevent consumers from challenging many junk-faxers in court. S. 2603, which was introduced less than a month ago, will be heard in the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday morning.
Consumer groups contend that Americans should not be forced to have their fax machine hijacked by businesses for advertising. Unlike junk mail or even telemarketing, junk fax advertisements make the recipient of the fax pay the costs of the communication — the paper and toner.
“This junk fax bill is just junk because it will allow banks, telephone companies and others to waste fax paper and toner that consumers pay for with reams of unwanted fax advertisements,” said Lawrence Markey, Jr., staff attorney for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). “This is not a ‘prevention’ act because it would legalize millions of junk faxes that are illegal today.”
Current law bans businesses from sending an unsolicited fax advertisement without the recipient’s “express permission.” S. 2603 would create a loophole that allows any company from which a consumer or business has made a purchase or transaction in the last seven years to send a fax advertisement. According to consumer advocates, this provision would result in a new advertising blitz by travel agents, mortgage lenders, insurers, cell phone companies and virtually any business with which consumers interact on a daily basis.
Under the existing law, Americans still receive millions of illegal junk faxes from marketers, but are allowed to take the junk fax marketers to small claims court and make them pay as much as $1,500 for each unsolicited fax. The current proposal, which has already passed the House, would dramatically expand the number of businesses that are allowed to send unwanted faxes without legal accountability.
“Americans are tired of the endless stream of nuisance faxes coming through their home and office machines. The Senate should work to strengthen the junk fax law rather than weaken it on behalf of the business lobby, which is exactly what this bill would do,” concluded Markey.
FTCR provides consumer education and assistance about how to fight junk faxers on its website at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/other/junkfaxes/