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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Junk Faxes:  How to Handle Those "Blasted" Faxes

We frequently hear from frustrated citizens who’ve been inundated with “junk faxes” -- unsolicited advertisements that clog up the memory, tie up the line, and eat up the paper on your home or office fax machine. Some of these missives tout diet fads, office products, or vacation deals. Others purport to be “unbiased” investment newsletters that extol the virtues -- and promote the stock -- of some “hot” new company. Believe it or not, the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Assistance gets unwelcome junk faxes, too.

Here’s what you should know about investment-related junk faxes, including the steps you can take to try and stop them:

  • Be skeptical and wary of unsolicited investment advice — Paid promoters are generally behind the investment-related "junk" faxes you may receive. Some companies -- especially smaller, “microcap” companies -- pay people to write newsletters to "tout" or recommend their stocks. While this isn't illegal, the federal securities laws require the newsletters to disclose who paid them, the amount, and the type of payment.
     
  • Don’t believe any claim of “SEC Endorsement” — The SEC does not endorse or approve any investment product or service. Ever. If an investment-related junk fax suggests otherwise — either by invoking the SEC’s name, providing the URL for our website, or using our seal — then you should exercise extreme caution. For more information, please read our publication entitled Fake Seals and Phony Numbers: How Fraudsters Try to Look Legit.
     
  • The SEC does not have a “do not fax” list — Junk faxes often contain a “disclaimer” or disclosure at the bottom of the page. Unfortunately, some junk faxes refer to the SEC (and provide our web address or contact information) just before the fax removal instructions. This has misled many into believing that the SEC is somehow involved or can assist them in getting their fax numbers removed from the distribution list. But that’s not the case.
     
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can help — The FCC (not the SEC) has jurisdiction over junk faxes, including investment-related faxes. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) and FCC rules prohibit entities from sending junk faxes to homes and offices. If you receive an unsolicited fax (investment-related or otherwise), be sure to complain to the FCC as follows:
     
    • Online — Use the FCC’s online Consumer Complaint Form at www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html
       
    • Phone — Call the FCC’s Consumer Center at:

      1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) (voice); or 
      1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835- 5322) TTY
       
    • Mail — You can also send a letter summarizing your complaint and attaching any faxes you’ve received to the following address:

    Federal Communications Commission 
    Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau 
    Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division 
    445 12th Street, SW 
    Washington, DC 20554
     

    Note: Include as much detail as possible in your complaint. And be aware that it may take time and multiple complaints to obtain relief from the plague of junk faxes.

For more information on junk faxes, please read the FCC’s Consumer Fact Sheet entitled Unwanted Faxes: What You Can Do. To learn more about how the SEC protects investors, please visit the Investor Information section of our website. If you wish to file a securities-related complaint or provide us with tips on potential securities law violations, please use the SEC’s Online Complaint Center.

http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/junkfax.htm


Modified: 10/19/2004