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Dear Matthew Alice:

I recently got my fax machine (as you can see) and the instruction manual says that under penalty of law that a phone number and identification title be at the top of your facsimile message. What is the penalty for failure to do so? I am sure there are untold number of faxes out there without an ID and phone number, so does that mean the feds could be on their trail?

-- Jerry, La Mesa

Don't think the FBI's Ten Most Wanted includes any anonymous faxers. True, the feds wrote the law (Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1992, a.k.a., Title 47, Chapter 5, Subchapter II, Part I, Section 227), but it's pretty much up to the rest of us to enforce it. The TCPA was the Congressional response to all our whining about junk faxes and telemarketers. It basically allows us, through the state attorney general, to file a civil action against anybody who sends us an ID-less or unsolicited promotional fax. If you prevail, you're entitled to $500 or actual damages, whichever is greater, for each offending fax. So I guess if you dash across the room to grab that incoming message, trip on the cat, crash into your computer, and start a fire in the den, you could clean up. You get attorney's fees too.

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