Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dalai Busts a Junk Faxer!
Well, Almost....

My fax line at home rang at 3AM the other day, naturally the night before I had to take call. It was a message from my friendly Junk Faxer, and I had received the very same fax about 10 times already. But when someone wakes me at 3AM unnecessarily, watch out!

Some rather brief research on the Junk Faxer's fax-back number disclosed that he is using Global Crossing, and that the long distance provider is a little Seattle company called Threshold Communications. I called Threshold, and was able to speak to Karen, one of their VP's. She was very kind and helpful, and promised to get my number removed from the Junk Faxer's list. But, no, she could not disclose the name of the faxer. And she had been receiving numerous calls from disgruntled members of the public such as myself.

Junk Faxing is illegal, as it turns out, mainly because unlike email spam, it costs money to receive a fax. Paper, toner, ribbon, they all add uup, you know. But some of these guys just ignore the law and keep on faxing. We, the victims have very little recourse. There are some services, such as FaxRecoverySystems, that will handle the prosecution for you. Send them a dozen or so junk faxes, they will do the research, file the claims for the illegal activity, and send you a check for $100 or so. It's probably a good deal, as the footwork gets complicated, but keep in mind that the fine for each illegal fax is about $1500. FaxRecovery is recovering more than faxes! As an aside, they had a message posted asking for information about the rather ubiquitous fax, and I supplied them with Threshold's number. Hopefully, I'll get some sort of reward, although not having the phone ring at 3AM is reward in and of itself.

I am no lawyer, thank Heavens, but I have to wonder if the other companies involved in Junk Faxing have some legal liability. The people at Threshold obviously know that they are providing services to a company that is doing something illegal, as well as distasteful. Why don't they refuse to do so? Karen gave me the clue: the junk faxer has about 300 numbers through their service, "but we only get complaints about 3 of them." Money talks, eh?

It would be unethical for me to suggest that anyone contact Threshold and tell them the error of their ways, or to put the fax number of the Junk Faxer on speed-dial and help tie up his lines, so forget that I said anything about that. But if there are any Threshold customers out there reading this, perhaps they could mention the situation the next time they pay their bill? Just a thought.

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