You can easily recognise a fax call because you’ll hear a high pitched whistling sound when you answer your phone. If you don’t have a fax machine attached to your line, the calling fax machine will hang up after a while, and may then retry you later. These are often called ‘Fax attacks’.
Legally, a company can only send you a fax message if you have given them permission, but most fax calls to domestic phone lines are the result of a mistake by the company carrying out a fax marketing campaign. The previous user of your phone line may have had a fax machine on that line, or your number may have been mistakenly put onto a fax broadcast list. Fax broadcasts are often carried out in the middle of the night, so can be a serious nuisance. Registering with the Fax Preference Service can reduce the chance of your number appearing on a fax broadcast list by mistake.
In the past, companies have also carried out ‘fax pinging’. This is the illegal practice of dialling thousands of telephone numbers to see which ones are answered by a fax machine. The company making these calls were compiling a list of numbers they can use for fax marketing, but of course, this causes nuisance calls to everyone who doesn’t have a fax machine. Thankfully ‘fax pinging’ is now rare.
When you are filling in a form either on paper or online you are often asked for both a phone number and a fax number. Be careful not to accidentally put your phone number into the ‘fax number’ box. If you do this, it would then be quite legitimate for the company to send marketing faxes to your home phone number.
If you receive unsolicited direct marketing faxes you can make a complaint to the Fax Preference Service if you are registered, otherwise you can report this to the Information Commissioner.
Other equipment such as modems and PDQ credit card machines can make fax-like calls in the middle of the night. These will normally stop after a few days when the user realises that their equipment isn’t behaving as it should.
trueCall can be set up to block any fax calls, modem calls, or PDQ calls you receive on your landline at home.