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Faxing Customers Could Cost $11,000 Per Fax After June 30th

New Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) regulations that are scheduled to go into effect June 30, 2005 would require businesses and non-profit organizations to obtain written consent before sending faxes to their customers or members. Violations could result in a fine of up to $11,000 per fax.

The sending of faxes, among other things, are governed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) enacted by Congress in 1991 and rules implementing TCPA adopted by the FCC in 1992. Under those rules, businesses are free to send faxes to those people with whom they have established business relationships.

The new FCC rules outlaw any "commercial faxes" unless the recipient has given express written authorization.

The revised fax regulations were finished in June 2003. In August of that year, the FCC delayed the rules' effective date until January 1, 2005. That deadline was extended to June 30, 2005 to give Congress time to pass a law allowing for an exemption for commercial faxes sent to businesses with whom there is an "existing business relationship."

The House passed the Junk Fax Prevention act of 2004 (H.R. 4600) in July 2004. The act would reinstate the existing business relationship exemption. Although a Senate version of the bill was passed at the end of that legislative session, there was not enough time for a conference committee to resolve the differences between the two bills.

Hopefully, an effort to pass a new Junk Fax Prevention act will succeed before the FCC regulations go into effect on June 30th. If this effort fails, however, you must not send any faxes “advertising” goods or services to anyone without a signed authorization.

If the Junk Fax Prevention act is passed, I will let you know about it. If not, the safest approach will be to not send any business faxes to customers or potential customers after June 30th unless you have a form signed by the recipient before hand. After June 30th, that form must be received by mail or other delivery, it cannot be faxed.

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