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How to identify the fax sender 

There are several methods to determine who is sending these faxes to you so you can contact them to force them to stop.

Both the advertiser (the company that created the content) and the fax broadcaster (the company that transmitted the fax) are liable under law. It is somewhat more difficult to identify the fax broadcaster. But if you do, you can ask that they remove your phone number from ALL transmissions which stops all those calls you are getting in the middle of the night.  In short, it is much easier to call a single fax broadcaster, than it is to identify and call each of the hundreds of advertisers of the fax broadcaster.

You call the fax broadcaster and tell them to stop. If that doesn't work, you keep calling and you start involving your lawyer, etc. if they persist. The reason that works is because the cost to the broadcaster of handling a single phone call is at least $2.00 or more. That is more than they are going to make by sending you junk faxes in a year. So it is simply cheaper to remove you than have to deal with your phone calls which ties up people time. Some broadcasters switch you to a recording for that reason...you can't reach a live human. In such cases, you may need to "be creative" (i.e., you have to lie) to get them to return your call, e.g., pretend you are interested in buying their service. The point is this: the more of a pain in the ass you make it for them in terms of the people cost in dealing with your complaint, the more they are going to be motivated to take you off their list. They fundamentally don't want to fax you anyway....it's all about the money. They will simply behave in a way that maximizes their profit. It's that simple.

Here are methods to determine the fax advertiser and/or broadcaster for a given fax. They are in no particular order. Read them all and prioritize for your situation and objectives.

  1. See if the FCC has already researched the title
  2. See if someone else has already researched the title
  3. Get the real callerID of every junk fax call you receive (even if they block or forge their callerID) for only $10 per month (you can cancel at any time). See How to stop junk faxes for a complete description of how this works.
  4. Hire an expert
  5. Put on a Call trap, file a lawsuit, and then subpoena the trap results (HARD). See Investigation tools for details
  6. Call the advertiser and trick them into telling you who they are. Then threaten the advertiser with a lawsuit if they don't ID the broadcaster (works best if you've won in small claims and can show you are serious or send them a copy of the claim you plan to file). If it doesn't, sue the advertiser in small claims and send them a subpoena requiring them to tell you who the fax broadcaster is. If they don't comply, they lose the lawsuit instantly.
  7. Header identification (easy). This IDs the broadcaster. (see below)
  8. Google search on the removal number. This IDs the broadcaster.
  9. Removal recording belongs to a known fax broadcaster (see table below)
  10. Content similarity with a known fax in a database
  11. Similarity of the fax with content on the web (identifies the advertiser)
  12. Use a pay research service such as Abika or Toll Free 800 Directory provides information about 1-800 numbers, reverse lookup and tracing 1 800 numbers -- on the removal number. That will get you the broadcaster.
  13. Call the advertiser (the response # on the fax) and pretend to be a customer. If you spend 5 minutes pretending you are interested and then ask who they are, they will usually tell you. This will get you the advertiser, not the broadcaster.
  14. Use the investigation tools on the phone numbers or website: Investigation tools
  15. Hook up a callerID unit to your phone line
  16. Forward your phone to an 800#. The 800# can then forward the calls back to another phone such as your cell phone. They can then pick off the ANI information (callerID that cannot be blocked) and tell you. Abika offers this service. See Investigation tools for details.
  17. Hook up a fax machine to the phone line (or use a laptop and faxmodem software) at the time(s) that the fax calls come in, e.g., after midnight. Note: this method is only applicable if you are getting fax calls on a line without a fax machine.
  18. Sign up for *69 service (call return). This will give you the callerID of the last call if there was one.

You can also try the following "passive" techniques to escape the fax calls:

  1. Set up your fax line to only accept calls from callers who show their CallerID. Most junk faxers hide this.
  2. Change your phone number (temporary fix)
  3. Take a look at the products at this site and see which are most appropriate for your problem: Block Unwanted Calls and Junk Faxes - with or without Caller ID @ Privacy Corps. If you purchase one, please write us and let us know how it worked for you.

Each of these methods is described below. If you do these methods, please let us know the results if they are not already listed here.

See if the FCC has already researched the fax

Telecommunications Consumers Division - Unsolicited Faxes lists their citations. Often, you can search for the title of the fax, e.g., if you type "Wall Street Watch" in the search box on that page, you can find the offender.

See if someone else has identified the fax

Try a google search on the response number or removal number.

Hire an expert

Contact one of Junk fax attorneys. They know the tricks to find the perpetrators. If they don't, they can contact us via the link and we'll talk to them about how to do it.

Call trap

The best way (but it is by far the most cumbersome) to identify who is sending you junk faxes is to enable a call trap on your phone line. After getting a junk fax, dial *57, and log the date and time on the fax. You can then either send a subpoena to the phone company or get a case number from the sheriff and send a subpoena to them. That will get you the number that called. Then you have to find the owner of those numbers which you can do via Abika as described on Investigation tools.

Lawsuit threats

A better way is to sue the advertiser who sent you the fax and offer to drop your suit in return for them providing proof of who they used to transmit the faxes. This works better if you've actually sued and won and can then send them proof you aren't joking.

Header examination

The simplest way to determine which broadcaster sent your fax is through examination of the headers, then use the removal number recordings to confirm your hypothesis.

Do the following:

  1. Sort your faxes into piles based on the similarity of the headers. 
  2. You will probably end up with 5 or fewer BIG piles for faxes sent from the major broadcasters, and a pile for "one of a kind" headers or no headers (there are a lot of direct junk faxes...these will have headers specific to the company)
  3. Focus on the 4 or 5 big piles where you have a bunch of faxes all with identical style headers.
  4. If the types of faxes are MIXED (e.g., stock, mortgage, etc), but the headers are the same, then it probably means you have a fax broadcaster. If the faxes all have very similar types of offers (e.g., all travel faxes), you might be dealing with a company who is directly sending faxes.
  5. Use the Header identification section below to identify the broadcaster that sent you each pile. If that fails, see the next step.
  6. Select a couple of faxes from each pile. Call the removal number on the faxes. Is the recording the same in each case? If so, use the chart below to confirm that the removal number recording gives you the same broadcaster that you determined in Step 4. 
  7. If you want to sue them and get the money you are legally entitled to, see Junkfax registration for lawsuit participation. There is no charge for this service or to join the lawsuits.
  8. If you have lots of faxes that are not identifiable by the process below (i.e., the headers don't match the table below), save them. This page will be updated periodically with new ways to identify broadcasters.

Broadcaster links below with a * lead to a different site and do not have links to the subpoenaed information. We'll have pages on these broadcasters in the near future.

Broadcaster Removal Recording starts with this ... Remove # example
fax.com They are now kaput so you'll never be able to hear this recording anymore so use the header identification rules below. Here's what the recording used to say: "Thank you for calling our automated entry system. Please listen carefully ..."  800-658-8133
Protus IP Solutions "welcome to the toll free fax number removal service. To remove..."  (old recording prior to November 2004) 866-353-0982
Protus IP Solutions "thank you for calling the fax removal hotline. Enter the 10 digit telephone you wished to have removed. Press the # key when finished."Protus.MP3 800-305-6892
Concord Technologies "You have reached the fax number removal line. Starting with the area code, please dial your 10 digit fax number" 888 217 8253
To be identified "Please enter the 10 digit fax number you wish to have removed from our list followed by the # sign" 866-834-1757
CF Services, LLC* "Please listen carefully and select from one of the following..." 877-360-0715 
Ellipsis, Inc. "Hello. If we have sent you a fax in error, please press 1 to remove your number..." 800-405-5537 
To be identified "To be removed from our list, please enter your 3 digit area code and 7 digit fax number. Please do not enter a 1 before the area code." 888-531-0963
see DigitalSpeed Communications "to be removed from our list, please enter your 3 digit area code and 7 digit fax number. please do not enter a 1 before the area code." 877-212-5608
Florida Reservations Inc at least 3 variations: "welcome to the fax removal system. To remove your fax number, please enter your 10 digit fax number including the area code." alternates with "you have reached the fax removal number. if you no longer wish to receive our faxes, ...." and "welcome to the toll free fax number removal service. to have your fax number removed, ..."
(note: they dial numbers from the fax.com database)
Headers are modified each time to make them look different and they use multiple removal recordings, changing the voices frequently.
Jan 06 2005 07:23  Travel Center  -> 12135551212  Page 1 of 1
Jan 06 2005 07:23  Travel Center  12135551212  p.1

800-480-4610
? other recordings to be supplied soon...check back later... ?
? This recording alternates in an attempt to trick you. The voices don't match either recording of the "authentic" broadcaster. This is a method for unscrupulous broadcasters to have you think someone else sent your fax. 888-214-4099
Xpedite (a business unit of Ptek Holdings)

Header identification

The most accurate method is to look at the headers. Here's a quick and dirty identification guide to the top 3 broadcasters (in the example, we suppose your fax number is 213-555-1212).

Fax.com
9/3/2004 10:20:31 AM                    <- 1 213 555-1212 ->                      Page 1
9/08/04 10:46:40       -> 2135551212    <- 1 213 555-1212->               Page 001

note that the use of <- phonenumber ->  is unique to fax.com

Protus
To:              Fm:AED                           16:47 09/07/04 PG 001
Fm:Stocks To Watch  To:  (12125551111)                         17:44 01/12/04 EST Pg 1-

There are a few variants but these are the most common ones (90% of the time). Detailed instructions are on the page for each broadcaster, 

Content similarity with a pre-investigated fax

Another option is to use this fax search engine at John "Doppler" Schiff's site. That system searches on broadcaster (and aliases), client (and aliases), remove #, contact #, and ID (e.g., PIN #, stock symbol). Stock symbol tracking was added only recently. Unfortunately, that site is no longer alive.

You can also compare your junk faxes to those archived here so you can show that you weren't the "only one" to have gotten the fax: Davis Fields Junk Faxes

Similarity with content on the web

Try a web search on the removal number or response number. Or a key part of the offer or company name, if it is mentioned. You can often use info on the website to find out who they are.

Always save all your faxes: that gives you a lot of leverage in negotiations and will result in higher settlements.

To take action, see I've been faxed. What are my options?

For more info, see:

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