If there’s something people pretty much unanimously hate, it’s junk mail and telemarketing. So if you are going to get into the business of unsolicited advertising, it is probably a good idea to make sure you know the ins-and-outs of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other applicable federal laws. Interline Brands Inc., who allegedly sent out improper fax advertisements from 2007 to 2011, is learning this lesson the hard way after paying $40 million to settle claims against it.
The TCPA and the Junk Fax Act prohibit sending unsolicited advertisements to any fax machine unless the recipients have “established business relationship” with the sender. Even where there is an established business relationship, any fax advertisements must have opt-out provisions. The TCPA gives private citizens the right to sue and recover the greater of actual monetary damages or $500 in damages for each junk fax. That $500 dollars can add up quickly.
The lawsuit filed against Interline Brands was a class action suit that started by the Craftwood Lumber Company in Illinois. The complaint (available here) alleged that Interline Brands sent out 735,000 facsimile transmissions in direct violation of federal law. The transmissions allegedly included advertisements that did not comply with the TCPA opt-out notice requirements. Although Interline Brand has settled the lawsuit against it for $40 million, it has denied any wrongdoing.