By Laura Alexander
Everyday, our businesses and personal lives are infiltrated by unwanted advertisements via every aspect of communication. The most publicized avenues for blocking unwanted and unsolicited advertisements are “do-not-call” lists for telemarketers and spam filters for email, but you may not realize that there are efforts to stem the tide of unwanted messages through your fax machine.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), not only has regulations regarding phone use, but also specifically to control unwanted faxes. The FCC prohibits the sending of unsolicited advertisements, more commonly called “junk faxes.” An “unsolicited advertisement” is defined as “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.”
The FCC is going even further. The current regulation has been amended to say that “Beginning July 1, 2005, a person may grant permission to send a fax advertisement only with a signed written statement that included the fax number to which any advertisements may be sent.”
Even though sending unwanted faxes is illegal, we all know that legislation never fully stops the breach of advertisement into our homes and businesses, so there are services available in order to further help us from wasting our time, paper and ink. One of such services is Blocklist.com. Unlike the DNC list, which only applies to residential numbers, Blocklist.com can be used for any phone number. “Blocklist.com provides consumers with free services to save time, money, and frustrations from promotional communications.” Essentially, the service works by allying themselves with a number of fax broadcasting companies. According to the company, “Blocklist.com provides a Web interface that redirects faxes sent from participating fax broadcasting companies to Blocklist.com inbox. If a fax is being sent to you through a participating fax broadcaster, and you are a member of Blocklist.com, the interface will recognize your fax number as a filtered number, and that fax will be redirected to your inbox.” Due to the fact that Blocklist.com can only work with companies that have expressed interest in working with them, not all unsolicited faxes will be blocked.
When you sign up for Blocklist.com, they create an account for you. With this account, you will be able to check online for a list of the faxes that have been filtered from your number. The system will store these faxes for 30 days before they are automatically deleted, thus allowing you time to ascertain that you really did not want any of the faxes. If you simply don’t want to see the messages, they will be automatically deleted, saving you the effort of having to manually delete the messages yourself.
If you are looking for fee-based alternatives to blocking faxes, there are options available. Products exist that control specifically either what numbers are exclusively allowed, or what numbers to block. A quick search online will bring up a number of options.
Whatever path you choose to take to avoid unwanted faxes, it is also important to know that if you still do receive faxes, we have the power to report the violations. The FCC, in a further attempt to regulate fax usage says, “If you have received an unsolicited fax or receive a fax from someone who hasn’t received your prior permission, you may file a complaint by completing the FCC’s on-line Consumer Complaint Form at or by calling the FCC’s Consumer Center at 888-225-5322 voice or 888-835-5322 TTY.
Laura Alexander is an Elementary Teacher.
[From Connection Magazine – June 2005]