Junk faxes are the bane of most businesses that have fax machines. Heck, in my home fax was deluged with faxes from advertisers that I never asked for or wanted. Enter the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
The TCPA is a federal law that prohibits advertisers from sending you faxes without your permission or a previously existing relationship. Just this week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, came out with a ruling on the TCPA that bolsters consumer’s rights under that statute. See Imhoff Investments v Alfoccino, Inc. It’s an interesting case with a few very important holdings:
- The business or entity that hires a fax broadcaster to send out garbage faxes is liable under the statute. This is called vicarious liability. When A hires B to do a job and if B screws up, A can be held liable. Under the TCPA, the statute is designed to hold A liable. In the Imhoff case, Avio received some junk faxes from Alfoccino, Inc. Although Alfocinno hired B to B, another business, to send out faxes for it, it was Alfoccino that was held liable and not its broadcaster, B to B.
- The damage suffered by a Plaintiff is complete when the broadcaster sends its fax, irrespective of whether a consumer or business received it. In Imhoff, the court reasoned that the damage is not just the paper and ink that belongs to the consumer that is wasted and that causes damage, but the fact that the broadcaster tied up the businesses telephone lines and interfered with its business. That is when the harm of the damages is complete. Thus, it does not matter whether the business receives the offending fax or not, the damage is complete when the broadcaster ties up your fax line, preventing you from using it for legitimate business.
This case is great for businesses that receive junk faxes and don’t know how to fight back to stop them. Most of the time, the advertiser is one that is local to the business to solicit a sale. Sometimes, not. For example, my office used to receive these junk faxes about cruises. We have not received these in quite some time, but it would be pretty easy to track down the sender of these faxes from the telephone number on the fax.
I do have one question: Many businesses, including ours at Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers, are moving to faxing services over the internet. We don’t use telephone lines anymore for our faxes. Does this statute still apply to junk faxes that we receive via fax technology? Best guess – probably. While the same policy reasons may not apply to junk faxes that we receive over the internet service, these junk faxes still take up paper and ink. Moreover, Congress really has a conveyed its disfavor pretty clearly in the statute. I would still legally pursue any advertiser under the TCPA that sends me garbage faxes.
If you have received junk faxes and want them to stop, call or email me, Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (888) 293-2882. We will make the junk faxes stop and get you monetary damages. For more information about junk faxes or your rights as a consumer, visit our website at www.micreditlawyer.com.