While working for a law firm, I was asked to create a solicitation to a function. The attorney wished to fax the solicitations to business individuals and firms with whom the attorney had no business relationship. This solicitation was a form of advertising. Believe it or not – this is illegal!
Unsolicited broadcast fax restrictions come under The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, Title 47, Chapter 5, Subchapter II – Common Carriers, Ã?Â§ 227 Restrictions on use of telephone equipment. Specifically, in Ã?Â§227(b)(1)(C), it states:
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States … to use any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send an unsolicited advertisement to a telephone facsimile machine…
It didn’t surprise me that the attorney had not heard of this law. Most people haven’t. Many marketing people haven’t. However, faxing any type of advertisement is illegal. It’s fax spam.
If the fax recipients have an established, working relationship to the individual or firm doing the faxing, then they probably will get by with it. Though it’s still illegal, it’s doubtful that such recipients will complain.
Newsletters or any other media pieces that promote a firm in any manner are definitely prohibited. Does it include invitations to firm-sponsored functions? A resounding yes! It could be construed that the invitation is for the express advantage of the law firm in promoting itself.
The rule of thumb for marketers-in-the-know is to not use fax machines for anything that might be considered a promotion of a firm, including but not limited to receptions, parties, golf tournaments or other special events sponsored by the firm … even firm sponsorship of charity functions.
So, the next time you consider using the fax machine for promotional purposes of any type, remember that you could end up as a defendant in court.