Unwanted Faxes

Services for Real Estate Pros

I became a member of ActiveRain about two weeks ago, maybe three.  Since then, I have received at least twenty unwanted faxes from companies claiming that we have had a "past relationship" and they are faxing me an update. 

Or maybe they don't even try to B.S. me about the past relationship thing- they just fax their ad over.

My Canon toner costs me about $75 per unit.  These unwanted faxes use my toner and, let's face it, are just plain annoying.  I've received faxes for health insurance, "free" vacations (time shares), mortgage refinances and leads. I used to get these unwanted faxes once a month or so. Now it's out of control.

At first, I couldn't figure out what could possibly be causing this sudden surge of junk faxes.  Then it dawned on me:  There is a direct correlation between my signing up for ActiveRain and receiving all of this fax-crap.

ActiveRain is not to blame however.

Spammers have computer programs that "parse" web pages by the thousands looking for certain data.  In a nutshell, this means that a computer program "reads" pages on the Internet (your ActiveRain profile) and scans the text for certain items.  Traditionally, the parsers look for the @ symbol, because they know it's an email address.  The evil, stinking spammers can collect millions of email addresses with a click of the button; they just sit back while the program looks for email addresses.  Webmasters fought back- using contact forms and other methods to trick the parsers.

Well, apparently, they have started parsing for the word "fax" and collecting that data.  Since spam blockers are fairly effective now, they might as well violate your phone lines and use up your toner.

It isn't really necessary to provide your fax number on ActiveRain or any other website.

Really now.  Who would read your profile and send you a fax without calling you first?  I'll tell you who:  Spammers.  I removed my fax number from my ActiveRain profile yesterday, because, after giving it some thought, I realized it just wasn't necessary.

Anyone who wanted to fax me (and who wasn't a spammer), would call me first.  Maybe they are a potential client and they want to fax their tax returns for me to evaluate.  Surely they would call first!  I've never received a pile of unexpected tax returns.  All I know is that if I read somebody's profile, and I wanted to establish a relationship of some sort, the first thing I would do is email them or call them.  One simply doesn't fax somebody as "first contact"!

I would highly recommend removing your fax number from your ActiveRain profile.  Don't take my word for it; give it some thought.  Think about it.  Think about why you would need to provide a fax number to people who have never spoken to you or emailed you.  Who needs your fax number before first contact?  I have racked my brains on this and decided:  Nobody.

Remove the fax number, I say.

At least we can eliminate email spam:

I have completely eliminated email spam from my office.  I tried anti-spam programs, but they just weren't good enough.  Sometimes it would flag email that I wanted and I made a few clients angry with unreturned emails.

Then I discovered SpamArrest.  I think it's about $30 per year and it's worth every penny.  SpamArrest uses a "challenge-response" method of detecting spam. 

You see, since pretty much all spammers use fake email addresses, SpamArrest stops them cold.  When an email comes in, before it goes to your inbox, SpamArrest sends an email to the person who sent you an email.  If it's spam, the challenge email from SpamArrest never gets delivered and that takes care of 99% of the spammers.  If it's a genuine contact from a genuine person, they will receive an email like this:

"Hello.  I am sorry for the trouble, but I am trying to protect myself from spam.  If you could just respond to this message..."

Actually, you can program it to say whatever you want.  You can put your logo and your photo in the "challenge" email.  This challenge-response method has eliminated 100% of my office's incoming spam.  We just don't get it anymore.  For the price, it's worth every penny.

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Comments (13)

Jeff Link
Asheville, NC
"Your Asheville Real Estate Link"
Thats why I am so glad I switched to an e-mail fax service.  Which I I did because the office I was in had 70 plus agents and 2 fax machines in common rooms. (Fax's would be missing pages that would turn up a few days later) The down side is spam the bright side is I don't have to print them. which as you stated in your post ink cost money,plus wasting paper.
Feb 28, 2007 11:51 PM
SEO Expert: Michael George
Phoenix, AZ
Real Estate and Law Firm SEO

Actually Jeff, I have efax also.  So I embellished a little when I mentioned toner.  But it's the principal; the time it takes me to open it up and read it and call the (877) number to cancel...that time is worth about as much as the same amount of toner.

Screw those guys!  Who does business with people like this?  Somebody must be...   

Mar 06, 2007 09:42 AM
SEO Expert: Michael George
Phoenix, AZ
Real Estate and Law Firm SEO
Really!  Wow!  That has not happened to me.
Apr 20, 2007 03:11 AM

Re-read Fern's comment and THINK about it. *If* Fern was not spamming his: "so most new people I e-mail to do not respond to me" by using some automated process, why would his "new" correspondents ever see the Spam Arrest challenge at all? If he really KNOWS the people he is e-mailing, he could easily have set Spam Arrest to accept their responses without challenge. Fern is writing from the dark-side. Fern is one of THEM. ;-)


Aug 05, 2007 03:48 AM
SEO Expert: Michael George
Phoenix, AZ
Real Estate and Law Firm SEO

Which they don't respond to and no harm, no foul.  Spamarrest can't be considered spam because it is not unsolicited (fake email or not) and they are not trying to sell anything.

Plus, 95% of the spam I get has addresses like this:  asodifuyhjidsafiuyao74wghfilauhe@yahoo.com

I doubt we are offloading anything of even slightly reasonable annoyance, since most spammers do not "forge" emails.  Isn't it a lot easier to just make an email as I demonstrated above?  I bet that sucker's still available.

Sep 15, 2007 10:28 AM
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

I posted a blog on this recently regarding the junk faxes.  Go to http://www.faxrecoverysystems.com/ .

Sep 26, 2007 12:39 PM
Find a Notary Public needAnotary
QEC Internet Services - Long Beach, CA

Simple solution is ot have an electronic fax and then you only print the faxes that you want to print, good or spammy. 

It also allows you the opportunity to same faxes you want on your hard drive for future use.  You'll also same a ton on ink because you really don't need a copy of every fax you receive.

May 12, 2008 02:57 AM
Find a Notary Public needAnotary
QEC Internet Services - Long Beach, CA

David,  you probably failed to read the TOS.  As with computer services once some services are purchased you can not cancel such services as that idea is that you could extract enoufg benefit in 5 minutes to justify the expense. 

I find it more productive to receive all mail and clean it up on the back-end.  This way I can choose to block sender or block domains that offend me.  I would never allow another outside entity to dictate what goes in or get excluded from my inbox. 

If you are using the Internet and email to generate income from your products or services, we have to accept that SPAM is part of the game and develop a internal defensive strategy that we control to combat it.  If you are in the Internet business or depend on technology for income, you'll blow a fuse if you major in frustration over spam.

Thinks about the snail mail you receive, what happens when you don't want a piece of mail, round file.  Same with email.  You'll never consider allowing a third party or the postal service to dictate what mail is placed in your mail box. 

Too many people get wrapped up in their own shorts, then fuss and fume about emails, phone calls and faxes that they don't want, yet have no concern about stuff they do want but don't receive.

TIP:  if you have only one email address you have a email nightmare!  Having multiple email accounts can significantly reduce junk or spam email.  If you want an explaination of this tip, email me and I'll make it clearer than mud.

May 12, 2008 03:19 AM

i dont want my e-mail anymore.someone please tell me how to stop it nixzebra@aol.com wont exist anymore stop it!!!!!

Jul 31, 2008 04:59 AM

i am only 9

Jul 31, 2008 05:01 AM
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

If there is an "unsubscribe" phone number at the bottom of the unwanted faxes, call it from your fax phone and they will take you off their list.  If they do not, they can be fined hundreds of dollars for each thing they fax you after that.  If there is no unsubscribe number, notify the FTC, as that is illegal as well.  Every time I get one of those faxes, I unsubscribe immediately.  If you do not, your number will be considered fair game and you will continue to get more and more junk faxes.

I don't think my posting my fax number here has any impact on junk faxes - at least for me.  If anything, I get fewer now than I used to before I ever published my number on line.  They have always been either stock offerings or vacation specials.  A few times I've gotten some of those African princes needing my help to get their millions, or something similar, but not for the last year or so.

Dec 02, 2008 03:23 AM
Jason Rose
123 ConEd LLC -- Michigan real estate continuing education - Farmington Hills, MI

This has not happened to me on this site, but I was the victim of hundreds of unsolicited and unwanted faxes every year from companies that I had never heard of.  They were selling everything from health insurance to tax services to vacations.  I eventually switched the office over to an e-fax service.  Now I just delete the email without printing them, which saves paper and toner.

I know it's the principal of the whole thing that matters, that there are people out there spamming fax machines.  I just don't see it getting any better in the future.  In fact, I see it getting worse as web spiders get better and faster at harvesting information off of the Internet.

Feb 06, 2009 07:23 AM
krishna kashyap av
home - Syringa, ID

Thanks for the post

Idaho Real Estate

Jul 06, 2009 03:18 AM