Consumer Protection Division
- Is it illegal for anyone to send me a fax?
- Are some faxes legal even though I didn’t ask to receive them?
- I bought something from a company. Can they send me a fax?
- How do I notify a fax sender that I do not want to receive faxes?
- What is an Established Business Relationship?
- I notified my office supply company not to send me any more faxes, and I got one the next day. How long do they have to comply with my request?
- Are there exemptions to the Do Not Fax law?
- If my company publishes its fax number on its website, does that give anyone permission to send us faxes?
- What can I do if I get unsolicited faxes?
- Can I send the attorney general faxes I have received prior to January 1, 2007?
- Is there a limit on the number of faxes that I can send with my complaint form?
- Do I need to put my fax number on a Do Not Fax list in order for my complaint to be investigated?
- I hear fax tones when I pick up my telephone, but I don’t have a fax machine. What can I do?
Under Indiana and federal law it is illegal to use a fax machine to send you an unsolicited advertisement. An unsolicited advertisement is a material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services which is transmitted to you without your prior express invitation or permission, in writing or otherwise.
Faxes that do not advertise the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services are not covered by the law. Also, if you have an established business relationship with the sender, then the sender may send you advertising faxes until you communicate to the sender that you do not want to receive any more faxes.
Buying something from a company creates an “established business relationship” (EBR). An EBR can also be created on the basis of an inquiry, application, or other transaction with the company. The company can send you advertising faxes until you notify the company to stop.
Each fax is supposed to contain a clear and conspicuous, cost-free way for you to notify the fax sender that you do not want to receive any more faxes. This can be an “800” number, an email address or a Web site, and must be noted on the first page of the fax advertisement. The instruction must state 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. The cost-free mechanism must permit consumers to make opt-out requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
An “established business relationship” (EBR) is a prior or existing relationship between you (or your business) and the fax sender. It is formed by a voluntary two-way communication between you and the fax sender, with or without an exchange of payment, on the basis of your inquiry, application, purchase or transaction. The EBR allows a seller to send you faxes until you notify the seller that you do not wish to receive them.
Senders that receive a request not to send further faxes must honor that request within the shortest reasonable time from the date of such request, not to exceed 30 days. The request must identify the fax number or numbers to which the request relates; and be sent to the telephone number, fax number, website or e-mail address identified in the “Opt-out” instructions on the fax advertisement.
Yes, they include:
- Fax advertisements sent to a fax machine with the recipient’s prior express invitation or permission.
- Faxes which do not advertise the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services. Examples: issue advocacy, charitable solicitations.
- Unsolicited fax advertisements to individuals and businesses with which the sender has an established business relationship (EBR).
Charities are not exempt, however, but if they send you a fax that does not advertise the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services, then the fax is not covered by the law. In other words, a fax asking for a charitable donation would not be considered an unsolicited advertisement. A fax advertising raffle tickets for sale would be an unsolicited advertisement and would be prohibited.
Publishing a fax number in your own directory, advertisement, or Web site may be considered an invitation for others with whom you have an EBR to send you faxes unless you note on such materials that you do not accept unsolicited advertisements at the fax number in question. For directories compiled by third parties, the fax sender is supposed to take reasonable steps to verify that the recipient consented to have the fax number listed.
You may also file your complaint with the Federal Communications Commission at: www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html, or by calling the FCC’s Consumer Center at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY, or send your complaint to: Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.
The TCPA allows recipients of unsolicited faxes to sue the fax sender in small claims court. You can recover either your actual monetary loss or up to $500 in damages for each violation. If you prove the sender willing or knowingly committed the violation, you can recover $1500 per fax. Contact your county clerk’s office to file a claim in small claims court.
Yes. We will review faxes dated prior to January 1, 2007, for informational purposes. However, we intend to concentrate our investigative efforts on faxes dated after January 1, 2007.
Each fax you receive is a unique event. In order for the Attorney General's Office to investigate your complaint, we need certain questions answered for each fax. These include the date and time of the fax, the telephone number that received the fax, whether there was an established business relationship, etc. Therefore, each fax must be accompanied by a separate completed complaint form.
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Do I need to put my fax number on a Do Not Fax list in order for my complaint to be investigated?
No. There is not a Do Not Fax list in Indiana.
In order to investigate a fax complaint, we need a copy of the fax. In most instances, the fax sender will discover your number is incorrect and the fax attempts will stop. However, if you receive repeated fax calls, you may wish to contact your telephone carrier and file a nuisance complaint.
In addition, you may wish to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission at: www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html, or by calling the FCC’s Consumer Center at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY, or send your complaint to: Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.
The Indiana Attorney General’s remedies
The Attorney General can file a lawsuit in state court to enjoin unsolicited faxes and obtain on behalf of the state civil penalties in the amount of $500 for each violation or $1,500 for a knowing or intentional violation. In the alternative, the Attorney General can file a lawsuit in federal court to obtain an injunction and damages in the amount of $500 for each violation or $1,500 for a knowing or intentional violation. In either type of action, any monies obtained are paid to the State and not to individual consumers.