I'm used to scam artists finding me at work. I have the inevitable calls from my "office supply" salesperson trying to cut me an order right as the prices for printer ink are "getting ready to skyrocket," the group that calls for my "bi-annual light bulb order" and individuals trying to elicit confidential information from Western Union accounts or personnel records. Ten years ago I fell for one of these ploys and wound up with a pallet of useless fluorescents that didn't even work in my store. Shame on me for nose-diving straight into another vat of snake oil today.
Recycling is one of my incessant activities. As I tour my store each day, I find myself constantly greening my work environment, whether by turning off the photocopier and computer monitors or by picking up pieces of paper to reuse in the printer or throw in our baler to recycle. Today I was making my way past the fax machine and decided to grab the daily slush pile of advertisements and add them to the paper tray for reuse. How pleasantly surprised I was when I read the message on the top sheet, saving it from the printer for a coveted position at the edge of my desk.
"FAX US YOUR UNWANTED FAXES," it beckoned, stating that as the EnviroFax Commission, they will contact senders of junk faxes and have your number withdrawn from their list.
I immediately thought of the five sheets of paper consumed daily by sites selling vacation packages and mortgage loans and what a fantastic opportunity this would be to stop wasting electricity, paper and toner. The fax even asserts that the commission "does not sell goods or services and will not contact you."
Ah. But they do ask that you write your fax number on any rubbish you send them. Because they do sell that.
Thank goodness for the Internet. Plugging in the EnviroFax name brought up several references to the Better Business Bureau, which concluded that they are a sham operation using false pretense to gather valid fax numbers.
This whole fax fraud left me wondering why a "company" would go through so much trouble to gather my number, when they obviously had it to begin with. How much cash do they fork out for supplies and phone charges trying to obtain something they already have? It made no sense to me, until I discovered the Junk Fax Prevention Act that passed in July 2005.
According to the Federal Communications Commission or FCC (a commission that really exists!), it is illegal to send unsolicited ads to any fax machine — whether business or personal — without the receiver's invitation or permission. But these same ads can be sent to a fax recipient if the sender has an established business relationship as long as the fax number was supplied on a voluntary basis. This could be via the Yellow Pages, a website, business card or other sources such as an application, unless duly noted that unsolicited documents are not accepted. For EnviroFax to develop an established business relationship with my store (and fax machine), all they needed was me to willingly give them the fax number they already had on file. Luckily, I did not.
The good news is that you CAN opt out of junk faxes. Advertisements are required to provide notice and contact information for the recipient to send back their information and request to be removed from future paper wasting experiences. Senders legally have 30 days to act.
The Better Business Bureau suggests that anyone receiving this same fax, from 1-888-220-2706, is asked to contact your state Attorney General's Office. The FCC can also be reached by snail mail at:
Federal Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Or its website at: