If your company's fax machine is like most, employees probably have to spend a considerable amount of time separating the important documents from the useless ones in the fax pile. So-called junk faxes were supposed to have been eliminated with the passage of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which banned unsolicited marketing by fax and imposed fines. Before it became law in 1991, any company with a fax machine was inundated daily with advertisements, each of which wasted its fax paper, wore out its machine and cost the company money in time and supplies.
Although the law considerably cut down on the clutter, it was unable to completely stop it. So as part of the legislation passed in July creating the government's national do-not-call list, the Federal Communications Commission added a provision requiring all businesses, including trade associations, to obtain written permission from customers or members before sending them any fax that could be considered an advertisement or promotional item. The new law, to take effect Aug. 25, gave officials only a month to compile the signatures.