Attorney General Mike Beebe has issued an alert telling business owners and individuals who own fax machines to be wary of unsolicited faxes asking for you to respond. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act bans unsolicited faxed advertisements if there is no prior business relationship between the sender and recipient. The penalty for each violation is $500 or up to $1,500 if a company willfully and knowingly violates the law.
Beebe stated that the huge volume of unsolicited faxes that plague Arkansans now includes a new twist developed by scammers. His office has received numerous complaints from Arkansas consumers who have been duped. In this latest scam, a consumer receives a fax that provides a 900 number to respond to if the recipient no longer wishes to receive faxed information from the sender. But when you fax to the 900 number provided, the cost to you is $5 or more per minute for the transmission, which may take three to five minutes to complete.
Some of these faxes say, "Shall we continue to send thousands of great fax offers and promotions to you?" or "Should the Supreme Court keep 'Under God' in the Pledge?" Following these queries are boxes marked "yes" or "no" and an instruction to fax the page back to the sender. The number given is a 900 number that charges $4.95 per minute.
It is unlikely that your number will be removed even if you respond, but it is certain that you will be charged for the transmission. General Beebe recommends that all such faxes be collected and sent to his office.
"Sending unsolicited faxes is illegal," Beebe said. "But there are loopholes, and con artists are ready to take advantage of them. You likely won't know it was a scam until you get your phone bill."
Beebe said his office also considers the sending of unsolicited faxes a deceptive act, which violates the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. By law, all faxes (even solicited ones) must contain a name of the business sending the fax, a number from which the fax is sent, and a telephone number to provide the recipient with a way to remove their fax number from future faxes.
For further information on other consumer matters, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office at Suite 200, 323 Center Street, Little Rock, AR 72201. The office can be reached by calling 1-800-482-8982. TDD service is available for the hearing impaired at 682-6073. The address on the World Wide Web is www.ag.state.ar.us.