Unsolicited faxes is common in the business place. These unwanted faxes can waste your paper, ink, and time. Here are four ways to handle junk faxes.

If your business has been the recipient of junk faxes, you are not alone. Getting unsolicited faxes peddling small business loanscheap insurance, and other items is common. These faxes are also used for personal agendas. For example, in November 2018, one hacker used junk faxes to urge people subscribe to a YouTube channel. More than 50,000 printers received this fax, including those at many businesses.

Even worse, a startup website announced the introduction of a “Printer Advertising” service in December 2018. It claims that it can print messages on Internet-connected printers worldwide on demand. While some are dismissing this as a stunt, the website’s owner maintains that it is a real service.

Although you can get rid of junk faxes by simply throwing them away, they can waste paper and ink when your faxes are automatically printed. Plus, they can waste your time. Fortunately, there are ways to deal junk faxes. Here are four of them:

  1. Contact the Senders

Some countries have laws regulating when unsolicited faxes can and cannot be sent. For example, in the United States, companies are prohibited from sending junk faxes under most circumstances. However, they are allowed to do so if you give them explicit permission. Plus, they can send these faxes if you have an established business relationship with them and you have provided your fax number either directly (e.g., on an application or contact form) or indirectly (e.g., the fax number is listed on your website). These companies, though, must provide a way to opt out of receiving the faxes.

So, if companies with which you have done business keep sending you unsolicited faxes, you can tell them to take you off their fax lists. If they do not comply, you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or the Attorney General’s office in your state. However, it is doubtful whether this will work with shady marketers, as they probably have little regard for whether they are breaking the law.

  1. Block the Offending Faxes

If you are regularly receiving junk faxes from the same sender, you might be able to block the sender’s number. (If the sender’s number is not shown on the faxes, JunkFax.org discusses various ways to find out what it is.) Common ways to block numbers include:

  • Using a fax solution’s built-in blocking feature. Some multi-function printers, fax machines, and online faxing services provide the ability to block faxes from specific numbers.
  • Purchasing a call blocker. Although call blockers are designed to block phone calls, some will work with dedicated fax lines. You typically specify either the numbers to block or allow. Call blockers are available for both landlines and Voice over IP (VoIP) lines.
  • Using a call-blocking service. Some phone and Internet service providers offer call-blocking services. For example, they might be able to block faxes sent from certain numbers or block any faxes sent from unidentified numbers. However, they often charge an extra fee for this type of service. Plus, this will only work with dedicated fax lines.
  1. Don’t Automatically Print Faxes

Another way to deal with junk faxes is to configure your multi-function printer or fax machine to save received faxes in your product’s memory rather than automatically printing them. That way, you can easily delete junk faxes (or any other faxes you do not want to keep), saving paper and ink. Some multi-function printers and fax machines even let you send faxes sent to an email address, which means you can view the received faxes from any device in which you can access your email.

If your multi-function printer or fax machine does not let you save received faxes or send them to an email address, you might consider using an online faxing service. Besides being able to send and receive faxes through an email program, some service providers let you send and view faxes through a web portal or app that they provide. If you are uncomfortable with using a third-party online faxing service, there are on-premises solutions that provide this type of functionality as well.

  1. Disconnect Network Printers from the Internet

Although some Internet service providers (ISPs) block the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) ports associated with printer protocols (e.g., port 515, port 631), many do not. As a result, network printers are particularly at risk of someone accessing them in order to print junk faxes. Even worse, hackers might use the ports to try to access companies’ networks.

It is a good idea to disconnect network printers from the Internet. If that is not possible, you need to make sure they are well secured. For example, you should place the printers behind firewalls and implement a user authentication system to prevent unauthorized access. We can recommend additional ways to secure your network printers.