Unsolicited faxes damage their recipients. A junk fax recipient loses the use of its fax machine, paper, and ink toner. An unsolicited fax wastes the recipient’s valuable time that would have been spent on something else. A junk fax interrupts the recipient’s privacy. Unsolicited faxes prevent fax machines from receiving authorized faxes, prevent their use for authorized outgoing faxes, cause undue wear and tear on the recipients’ fax machines, and require additional labor to attempt to discern the source and purpose of the unsolicited message.
In 1991, Congress enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq. (“TCPA”) to regulate the explosive growth of the telemarketing industry. In so doing, Congress recognized that “unrestricted telemarketing . . . can be an intrusive invasion of privacy . . .” See 47 U.S.C. § 227, Congressional Statement of Findings #5. Specifically, in enacting the TCPA, Congress outlawed telemarketing via unsolicited facsimile (“Junk Fax”). See 47 U.S.C. §227(b)(1)(C).
Section 227(b)(1)(C) of the Act makes it “unlawful for any person within the United States. . . to use any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send, to a telephone facsimile machine, an unsolicited advertisement.” See 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(C); see also 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(a)(3).
Under the TCPA, recipients of unsolicited fax advertisements can file suit in federal or state court to collect the greater of $500 or actual damages for each violation, and/or obtain an injunction. See 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(3)(B). If a court determines that the violations were willful or knowing, damages can be tripled. This means that every distinct junk fax sent out could result in damages of $1,500.
Example of a “Junk Fax”:
- Hold the phone! Court awards Westwood lawyer $2,500 for receiving junk faxes (nj.com)
- Win! U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Federal Jurisdiction Over Consumer Telemarketing Claims (gloucestercitynews.net)
- ‘Junk fax’ suit can go national, U.S. judge rules (thedailyrecord.com)