• Federal Law Now Prohibits Sending Any Commercial Faxes Without Prior Consent, Even to Your Own Customers
  • September 30, 2003
  • Law Firm: Perkins Coie LLP - Seattle Office
  • If you have been sending faxes to existing customers or members, you should know that beginning August 25, 2003, you can no longer do so unless you obtain the signed, written consent of the customer. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 ("TCPA") prohibits the transmission of unsolicited fax advertisements and the Federal Communications Commission recently determined that this fax ban no longer exempts faxes to existing customers.

    Here are the Federal Communications Commission's changes to its rules governing the TCPA:

    • Beginning on August 25, 2003, all sellers must obtain signed, written authorization before sending any fax advertisement -- including to their existing customers and existing recipients. If you send a fax advertisement to your customers without obtaining signed written consent, you will be in violation of the TCPA.

    • Prior to August 25, 2003, sellers may obtain written authorization from their customers via fax. However, beginning on August 25, 2003, and thereafter, sellers will not be allowed to send a fax to obtain authorization, and must obtain authorization by other methods (e.g., by mail, or in person).

    • All fax messages must contain the following information on the first page, or at the top or bottom of every page:

      1. date and time the fax is sent

      2. an identification of the business, or individual, sending the message

      3. the telephone number of the sending machine, or of the business, or the individual sending the message

    Recipients of unlawful faxes can recover $500 per fax in a lawsuit against the sender. This amount can be tripled to $1,500 per fax for willful or intentional violations. Class action lawsuits under the TCPA are common.