How Widespread Is Harassment By Fax?

Interviewer: Do you see much harassment by fax, or is it pretty rare?

Andrew: For a lawyer, it is easier to sue when there is a paper based violation.  What happened with this law is lawyers started protecting consumers mainly in the fax area because: You get a fax and there it is.  You have a piece of paper.  You can prove the fax was sent.  The law started developing with the junk fax portion.

Now there are not a lot of violations. This is because a lot of those companies have gone out of business.  Back in the early 1990s, there were all sorts of fax blasting companies devoted to doing that; but they have all been sued. There have been a lot of class actions and those companies have gone out of business for the most part.

Note: You can fax people. You just have to have their permission.  You have to have a way to opt out.  There are rules you have to follow.  You can still fax but you are only really able to do it to people you have a relationship with. If you have developed a relationship with them, it is not really going to be that hard to get their permission.

That is the junk fax part. Again, there are not a lot of lawsuits regarding junk faxes nowadays. Most of the lawsuits center on calls to cell phones. Cell phone use has exploded. This law was implemented in 1991; and at that time there were about 7.5 million cell phone users. In 2009, there were 234 million cell phone users.

The damages for a call are $500 to $1500 per call. $500 is the minimum and it can go up to $1500 if the call is willful or knowing. If you have a class action, whether it has been 30 calls or 40,000 calls, the damages can be just enormous. Companies are starting to realize they have to regulate because it is costing them a lot of money.