It could happen to you

Scott Cullen

There’s nothing like a close call to make you think. One would figure that anyone who has failed to back up his or her data and then lost it in a computer crash would have learned from the experience. Wrong. I had some weird things happening with my computer recently and was panicking because I had a ton of data that I hadn’t backed up. You should have seen me frantically scurrying to back up my files before I lost them for good. Fortunately, I didn’t lose anything, but it got me thinking once again about the importance of backing up data.

Amazingly, even though I’ve lost data before and wrote about this topic more than once, I still hadn’t learned my lesson. But I think my recent close call set me right. Check out this month’s Business Computing column, by Reid Goldsborough, on data loss. I encourage you to read it and practice what he preaches, particularly if you aren’t doing so already.

Speaking of close calls, an issue was recently brought to my attention by Leonard Mingoia, a reader of our sister publication, OfficeDEALER. Leonard is president of FaxWorld, a Huntington Beach, California-based office equipment dealership. He e-mailed me to say that he was mad as hell over impending FCC legislation, The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991, 47 CFR Part 64, which is aimed at reducing junk faxes, but instead had the potential to create a legal and financial nightmare for businesses–especially small and midsize independent businesses.

Under the legislation, businesses would need signed written permission before they could fax prospects and even their customers. Complicating matters was that the permission form could not be faxed. Businesses who fail to comply could be subject to a $10,000 fine.

Leonard believes most small-business owners aren’t aware of this legislation. He hasn’t been alone in raising a ruckus. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has been fighting the good fight against this legislation, which would have gone into effect Jan. 1, 2005. Fortunately, in July, Congress passed H.R. 4600, legislation restoring the established business relationship provision governing facsimile communications. This change now allows for communications between parties where a previous business relationship exists. But even with the new legislation, there are still some issues businesses need to be aware of regarding unsolicited faxes. One of the biggest is frivolous lawsuits.


Leonard maintains that the legislation sets up independent businesses for extortion by unscrupulous operators even with the new Congressional legislation. The incident that opened Leonard’s eyes to the problem was a letter from an attorney who claimed his office had received an unsolicited fax from FaxWorld and was threatening to sue if FaxWorld didn’t send a check for $5,000 as the attorney claimed other businesses had done. “Fortunately, current FCC regulations allow for one unsolicited event to occur,” explains Leonard. “We responded by mailing that attorney the excerpt from the FCC regulations as well as a copy of a business card from his office where we had made a sales call.”

He also cautions against boiler room operators who could easily duplicate a legitimate business’s letterhead and then send a fax to themselves, followed by legal action against a legitimate business. Leonard wouldn’t be surprised if many small, independent businesses that receive such letters threatening lawsuits simply write checks rather than hire attorneys to fight these cases.

There you have it, two close calls and a warning that will hopefully prevent you from learning some lessons the hard way.

by Scott Cullen, OS Managing Editor

COPYRIGHT 2004 Quality Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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