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Companies that currently use or plan to use facsimiles to communicate with their client base or customers should be aware of the rules and regulations recently issued by the Federal Communications Commission. Failure to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227, as modified by the Junk Fax Protection Act of 2005 (JFPA), can be costly. Just ask Fax.com — a fax transmitter that was fined more than $5 million by the FCC for its ongoing failure to comply with the TCPA, or American Blast Fax, which, along with two officers, was subject to a judgment of nearly $500,000.

In the summer of 2005, Congress enacted the JFPA, which revised portions of the TCPA. These amendments included reinstatement and codification of the established business relationship (EBR) exemption. The act also required the FCC to issue rules and regulations implementing the JFPA. Those rules were released on April 6 of this year. They address EBRs; opt-out notices and opt-out requests; fax broadcasters and other third parties; professional and trade organizations; transactional messages; “free” goods and services; and violations of the TCPA. This article summarizes the TCPA — including the JFPA and FCC rules — and offers 10 steps for businesses to take to avoid or reduce liability for violations of the TCPA.

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