If you want to use fax marketing for your business, you'll need to educate yourself on the laws restricting this practice. These laws have expanded in recent years as a result of public outcry over telemarketing in general, the growth of privacy and solicitation laws and advertising regulations. Not adhering to these laws will not only open you to sanctions from law enforcement, but could also risk offending your potential customers.
Unmitigated fax marketing campaign onslaughts have been compared to e-mail SPAM barrages. They clog up a communication systems and make it difficult for their owners to use the system for its intended purpose. It's easy to see how this could breed ill will among the public.
At the federal level, many restrictions are written into The Telephone Consumer Protection Act. In general, the law prohibits business from using the fax machine to advertise products and services. The law includes an exception to this prohibition, however, in cases where a prior or existing relationship has existed. Such a relationship -- sometimes called an "existing business relationship" or "EBR" -- isn't restricted only to money changing hands. It can include an inquiry, application, purchase or other transactions or contact.
The Junk Fax Protection Act contains parameters governing how businesses send even routine faxes to customers. "Junk" faxes are defined as any message containing advertisements of goods or services. Along with requiring an EBR, the law requires fax cover sheets to include an "opt out" box that customers can use to terminate the EBR and thereby take them off the fax list.
These federal laws apply to both in-state and out-of-state faxes, but are subject to state laws. Many states have their own laws governing telemarketing and fax marketing. Many are based on the federal law, but not all include the same exception for existing relationships. Before embarking on a fax marketing campaign, check your state laws to make sure where you stand.
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