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Mortgage companies targeted for unsolicited fax ads

National Mortgage Professional
Mar 24, 2014

Mortgage companies targeted for unsolicited fax adsDouglas A. TurnerUnsolicited faxes

A group of Colorado lawyers and enterprising debt collectors are filing hundreds of lawsuits alleging violations of federal anti-fax laws, and mortgage companies that send fax advertisements are the prime targets of these lawsuits.

Have you noticed that you do not get as many unsolicited faxes these days? This is because a federal law is now in place prohibiting unsolicited fax advertisements. If you violate the law and send an ad touting your spectacular, low-interest rate deals, it could cost you as much as $1,500 per fax if the judge finds that you did it intentionally.

The law is called the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and it has teeth! The federal government became involved in fax advertising nearly a decade ago. Most states already had laws in place to prohibit unsolicited fax advertisements, but they were not very effective. A fax advertiser could avoid a state's laws by setting up shop in another state and faxing the ads long distance.

At the request of many states, the federal government enacted the TCPA. Unless an advertiser obtains advance approval, sending fax ads is illegal in Colorado and most other states. (To confuse matters, Colorado has a similar version of this law that permits unsolicited fax advertisements, as long as the fax contains a toll-free number that allows the recipient to opt out of future fax ads.) However, don't be fooled by those boys selling fancy fax broadcast machines. In Colorado, trial courts are enforcing the federal law, and you must have expressed consent from the recipient in order to send a fax advertisement. If you don't follow the federal law, it will cost you at least $500 per fax.

The $500 federal penalty may seem abnormally stiff for a single-page fax, but the fine was set so high in order to give individuals an incentive to seek recovery. Instead, enterprising lawyers and debt collectors pay people a fraction of that $500 to assign the unwanted faxes for collection. Lawyers and debt collectors then bundle these faxes into lawsuits. The result is that mortgage companies are being sued for hundreds of faxes sent to many different people.

So, if you are sending advertisements by fax, beware! The current law is not in your favor, and you can save your free speech arguments for the appeal. If a fax broadcast salesman knocks on your door, just tell them, "No thanks!"

Douglas A. Turner is an attorney based in Golden, Colo. He may be reached by phone at (303) 273-2923, by e-mail at [email protected] or by visiting www.douglasturner.com.



Published
Mar 24, 2014