EnviroFax Commission Sending JUNK Faxes Touting Free Service

  
     
January 26, 2010

BBB received an inquiry from a Billings, MT accounting firm about the above-mentioned company. The MT company received a fax from Envirofax Commission offering the same type of service that you would want rendered unto them: Fax them your unwanted faxes received, making sure your fax number is prominently revealed on the fax itself.

For FREE, the EnviroFax Commission will contact the senders and make sure you are removed from their list within the 30 days that the FCC requires of unauthorized fax slammers.

The offer states that they will do all of this for free. However, think about it, why would you PAY to fax unwanted faxes to a group that only gives you their fax number?

Sounds too good to be true and like a scam to gain active fax numbers. The flyer says, among other things, "The EnviroFax Commission is a nonprofit corporation. Its assistance is FREE. EnviroFax does not sell goods or services and will not contact you." "Please make sure your fax number is on the fax you send to us.”

BBB ADVICE

BBB believes that there is no such thing as this commission, and that this group’s primary goal is to confirm valid fax #s under the guise of providing a free service to eliminate unwanted or junk faxes in the future.

The offer provides no phone # or online web presence, only a return fax #. It is safe to assume that this is a deceptive pitch used to verify real fax #'s (aka compile a third-party list of active fax numbers) in order to sell these lists of active fax numbers, and/or to send more junk faxes in the future.

Tips on Unsolicited Faxes

As defined in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, an “unsolicited advertisement” is “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, in writing or otherwise.”

Also as defined in FCC rules, an “established business relationship” or EBR is “a prior or existing relationship formed by a voluntary two-way communication between a person or entity and a business or residential subscriber with or without an exchange of consideration [payment], on the basis of an inquiry, application, purchase or transaction by the business or residential subscriber regarding products or services offered by such person or entity, which relationship has not been previously terminated by either party.”

The rules provide that it is unlawful to send unsolicited advertisements to any fax machine, including those at both businesses and residences, without the recipient’s prior express invitation or permission. Fax advertisements, however, may be sent to recipients with whom the sender has an EBR, as long as the fax number was provided voluntarily by the recipient. Specifically, a fax advertisement may be sent to an EBR customer if the sender also:

*obtains the fax number directly from the recipient, through, for example, an application, contact information form, or membership renewal form; or

*obtains the fax number from the recipient’s own directory, advertisement, or site on the Internet, unless the recipient has noted on such materials that it does not accept unsolicited advertisements at the fax number in question;

or

*has taken reasonable steps to verify that the recipient consented to have the number listed, if obtained from a directory or other source of information compiled by a third party.

If the sender had an EBR with the recipient and possessed the recipient’s fax number before July 9, 2005 (the date the Junk Fax Prevention Act became law), the sender may send the fax advertisements without demonstrating how the number was obtained.

Opt-out Notice Requirements

Senders of permissible fax advertisements (those sent under an EBR or with the recipient’s prior express permission) must provide notice and contact information on the fax that allows recipients to “opt-out” of future faxes. The notice must:

*be clear and conspicuous and on the first page of the advertisement;

*state that the recipient may make a request to the sender not to send any future faxes and that failure to comply with the request within 30 days is unlawful; and

*include a telephone number, fax number, and cost-free mechanism (including a toll-free telephone number, local number for local recipients, toll-free fax number, Web site address, or e-mail address) to opt-out of faxes. These numbers and cost-free mechanism must permit consumers to make opt-out requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Senders who receive a request not to send further faxes that meets the requirements listed in the next section must honor that request within the shortest reasonable time from the date of the request, not to exceed 30 days. They are also prohibited from sending future fax advertisements to the recipient unless the recipient subsequently provides prior express permission to the sender.

Opt-out Requests By Consumers

To stop unwanted fax advertisements, your “opt-out” request must:

*identify the fax number or numbers to which it relates; and

*be sent to the telephone number, fax number, Web site address, or e-mail address identified on the fax advertisement.

If you change your mind about receiving fax advertisements, you can subsequently grant express permission to receive faxes from a particular sender, orally or in writing.

Fax Broadcasters

Often fax advertisements are sent in bulk on behalf of a business or entity by separate professional fax broadcasters. Generally, the person or business on whose behalf a fax is sent or whose property, goods, or services are advertised is liable for a violation of the junk fax rules, even if the person or business did not physically send the fax. A fax broadcaster also may be liable if it has a “high degree of involvement” in the sender’s fax message, such as supplying the fax numbers to which the message is sent, providing a source of fax numbers, making representations about the legality of faxing to those numbers, or advising about how to comply with the junk fax rules. Also, if a fax broadcaster is “highly involved” in the sender’s fax messages, the fax broadcaster must provide its name on the fax.

Fax Numbers and the National Do-Not-Call List

Registering a home phone number on the national Do-Not-Call list prevents only telephone solicitations directed to that number, not fax advertisements to your home or business fax number. The FCC’s junk fax rules nevertheless prohibit fax advertisements unless you have an EBR with the sender or have given your prior express permission to receive the fax advertisements.

If you feel you have been sent an unsolicited fax, contact:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
(888) 225-5322
esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm

BBB also advises anyone receiving this fax to also report it to your state Attorney General’s Office.