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Money from a nuisance

How is this for making money out of a nuisance? Like many of you, I am really bugged by junk faxes that arrive in my office all hours of the day and night. Experts estimate that an average fax costs the recipient between 7 and 12 cents a piece, once you factor in consumables and paper. I probably get 20 of them a week – and I’m probably not a major victim. Junk faxing is illegal, and when prosecuted can result in a fine

The dilemma is that to bring the people who send junk faxes to account, one has to undergo a complex legal process and for a single individual it isn’t worth it.Fascinatingly, though, an entire cottage industry has now sprung up around helping individuals combat junk faxes. One service, aggregates junk faxes from individuals to identify the biggest generators of junk. It then goes after them through legal channels for fee penalties. If you provide a fax that results in a collection, they send you $100 (although the award could be much more than that). They keep everything over the hundred in compensation for their time and effort. It offers benefits for the recipients of junk faxes, in that their volume of junk is often reduced (and they sometimes get a nice check). More importantly for me, it provides an easy, legal way to fight back against these parasites selling $199 trips to Bermuda, mortgages and hot stock tips.

As I checked out this service, I found a number of other services that do something similar, betting on the fact that the law underlying junk fax issues is hard for individuals to enforce. And the ‘do not call’ registry seems to have no effect on junk faxers.

And a tip — don’t call back the fax people with a request to remove your fax number. Apparently all they do is rejoice at having found an actual fax machine, and sell the number to other junk faxers.

It just drives me crazy that someone can use my equipment, time, ink and paper to send me ads without my permission. So I signed up right away. Will let you know how this goes.

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