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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Junk Faxes

There are laws to prevent these from happening. Junk Faxes are violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. Each violation is worth $500 and triple if the act is wilfull The problem is many fax owners don't know about this law.

Today's Sun-Sentinel reports about a Broward County firm in Plantation that does nothing but try to recover money from the senders of these nuisances. Fax Recovery Systems Inc. charges their clients nothing but promises $100 for each fax they collect on.

I have a dedicated fax/computer line and I do get unsolicited faxes. Just not very often, since I'm online 90% of the time and when not, I turn both the computer and my fax off. This company sounds like a good idea, if I had a bigger problem with these nuisances I'd use them. Below is some of the Sun-Sentinel article, I suggest you read the whole thing.

The Vermuts, who run a farm supply business from their Plantation townhouse, take their junk faxes every two weeks to Joel Nussenblatt at Fax Recovery Systems, Inc., also in Plantation.

The business tracks down senders and warns them to stop. If they don't, FRS goes after them, in court if necessary, to make them pay $500 to $1,500 for each unsolicited fax. The recipient gets $100 per fax, no matter how much is collected.

Since they started using the free service, the Vermuts say they are receiving 75 percent fewer junk faxes.The money they collect is "not enough to get rich on, but it is enough to compensate you for the aggravation and the consumables you have to use," Dan Vermut said.

A little-used provision in the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 requires senders to pay recipients $500 for each unsolicited fax and triple if the fax was sent willfully. Courts have said simply pushing the button to send the fax makes it willful.

Just as an e-mail spammer can flood hundreds of thousands of in-boxes, a fax blaster need only push a button to send unrequested faxes across the country. In a recent case, one company was reported to have sent 2.5 million a month.

But unlike those who get spam, the recipient of the fax also pays the cost of paper, toner and supplies. In the Vermuts' case, that was as much as 16 cents a page."It's the only time you're forced to pay for someone else's ads," Nussenblatt said.

The sender can be ordered to pay if the first page of an unsolicited fax fails to include a return address and a provision enabling the recipient, at no cost, to tell the sender to quit.

In some states, including Michigan and California, attorneys general use the federal law to sue, with money collected going to their states.But courts in Florida and other states have ruled that individuals can seek damages on their own.

In Florida, Attorney General Charlie Crist has never hauled a fax blaster to court because when warned to stop, they have, said his spokeswoman, JoAnn Carrin.Fax blasters send out an estimated 2 billion faxes a year, said Nussenblatt, and nationally, fines have been huge.

A Hooters restaurant in Georgia paid $9 million for hiring a company to send out unsolicited faxes. The Federal Communications Commission last year fined a California company, Fax.Com. Inc., $5.4 million for 489 violations.

Nussenblatt, whose firm employs six people, started FRS about 18 months ago after getting tired of faxes tying up the machines he needed for his computer parts business."I got [teed] off one day and said I'll make these people pay," he said. "I couldn't take it any more. No one wanted to stop them for me. I spoke to a half-dozen attorneys. So I had to stop them myself."

His firm, one of the few in the nation performing such a service, took on its first clients in February and now has 1,500 nationally, about half individuals and half corporations, he said. He declined to say how much the company is earning.

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