New FCC Rules on Faxing Catch Associations By Surprise

ASAE conducted an online seminar yesterday about changes in the FCC regulations governing the sending of faxes. These changes come with the same batch of rules that established the Do Not Call Registry.

In a nutshell, associations will no longer be able to fax dues renewal, conference information or other marketing information to someone with whom they have an established business relationship (i.e. a member) unless they have express written permission to do so. This could be pretty disastrous for associations that rely on fax marketing to their members (a very common practice). ASAE has posted some resources about this, including the handouts from the session. Below is an excerpt from the handout:

The new rules, which will become effective 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register (which has not yet occurred, but is expected shortly), will require signed written consent in order to send faxes that contain unsolicited advertisements ? even to association members. The consent must include the fax number to which the faxes will be sent. The FCC noted that electronic and digital signatures will suffice (thus allowing online and possibly email consent), but noted that once the new rules take effect, sending faxes to seek consent will be forbidden (although the consent can be returned via fax under the new rules). Thus, the FCC not only eliminated the EBR exemption, it eliminated the ability to obtain consent without a signed written document as well. It also noted that an opt-out mechanism (e.g., ?call if you do not wish to receive more faxes?) is not permitted; a person must provide consent before being faxed. Finally, once a consent is provided, it can later be revoked. As under the prior rules, the fax ban applies not only to stand-alone fax machines, but also to computer fax boards or modems that can send a fax from a personal computer.