Stopping Fax Spam

Computers & TechnologySpam

  • Author Bob Costello
  • Published May 21, 2020
  • Word count 550

FAX machines started gaining wide use in the early 1980’s. They were a magical machine. It was going to put an end to the post office. Just crazy cool technology at the time.

They were very cool but not much business was really being done with them yet. However, people really wanted to play with them. They started sending joke lists around to everyone with a machine. This was the original electronic spam. Soon enough, businesses started to send unsolicited faxes selling stuff. Then scammers started sending out ‘notices’ for toner and paper. So many companies fell for this is was incredible. Send a bill through a fax machine and they will pay it. After sending payment, and never receiving anything, there was no way to track the origin of the original fax. It was a profitable scam for a couple years until the word, and warnings, got out.

The real problem with these original machines was that every fax was automatically printed out. Getting spam actually cost money. The toner and thermal paper were expensive so it was a real issue. The old school managers were not happy with this new techno – expense. Eventually, faxing became more mainstream and the toner and paper costs came way down. However, the spam never slowed down.

Today faxes arrive digitally, usually in your e-mail. While spam is still a problem, at least they don’t automatically print out anymore.

Faxes are still used by many businesses. It's considered a 'safe' way to transmit documents because they can't deliver malware to your computer. However, there are some downsides to this antique technology. Unlike e-mail, we don't really have a fax spam filter.

Since your faxes arrive vial e-mail all from the fax service provider, you can’t block them there or you would block all faxes going to your inbox. There’s a fix, but it’s a bit cumbersome. However, it does stop the fax spam.

One of the ways a fax provider fights spam coming into the fax servers is to block all traffic from about 35 countries. (Russia, China, North Korea, etc.) Also, blocking individual numbers that show higher than expected traffic. However, all of that is an inexact science. It’s playing a game of defense for the never ending new attack methods.

If your fax number is really all spammed up then the only real fix is to get a new number. Of course, that will be inconvenient, at best. However, here's the best fix:

Sign up for a new internet fax service account and choose a new number. For a few months, you would continue to run both fax numbers. During that time, you will start the notification process. Update your website, business cards and other listings. Send updates and notices to your customers and suppliers.

Then, once you see that the old number stops getting traffic you can delete that bad fax number. All the spam will stop. If a customer tries to send a fax to the old number, they would get a fax failure notice. They will look up your website or call you to get the new fax number.

It’s a bit of work, but your spam will stop and productivity will improve. Now if we could do something about junk snail mail.

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