Home > Junk fax profiles > How to tell whether your fax is from fax.com

How to prove in court where your fax came from: over 30 methods

NOTE: This page is in the process of being updated with the latest information.

Be sure to read How to identify the fax broadcaster

You never have to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt in court. You just need to show "preponderance of the evidence" i.e., it is more likely the way you say it is.

So having a junk fax with a fax.com header and a number that gives the fax.com removal recording is, in essence, like receiving a fax that has a header saying "this fax was sent by fax.com" and a removal number saying "to be removed, please call the fax.com removal number." So this establishes preponderance.

It's now up to the fax broadcaster to prove the converse is true.

You can make this doubly hard for the broadcaster by subpoening the list of clients used by the broadcaster along with their contect info. They'll never comply. So you get to construe that the evidence that they did not produce lists the advertiser who sent the fax, i.e., their non-compliance will win your case.

If they do comply, you can point out an omission from the list and show they are not being inclusive and they lose.

So if they do provide a complete list, make a copy and send it to us and we'll make sure that it is put to good use (which is why they'll never give you the list).


Here are the world's leading fax spammers:

  • protus IP solutions

CAUTION: there is some evidence that fax.com used to subcontracts faxing and removal number service to other broadcasters such as Protus IP Solutions.

So just because the headers match and the removal recordings sound just like the fax.com ones, there is still a chance that the fax may not be coming from fax.com!

An educated judge will know of fax.com's history of deceit and may allow evidence such a "qualifying removal recording" and "qualifying header." Other judges may not.

Still, it's worthwhile to do whatever you can to have as much evidence as you can.

Since I know I am going to be appearing in front of the same judge over and over, I always try to make absolutely sure the fax is from fax.com as many ways as I can. Otherwise, my credibility is damaged in future cases.

A REAL example
Here's an example of how you prove in court it is fax.com. Remember, your burden is preponderance of the evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. You need only show it is more likely than not that they sent the fax. But the more evidence you have, the better.

For example, we got a fax.com fax on 6/30/2004 advertising "Lowest Rates in 45 years!" Carefully study these two fax.com faxes received in June 2004. Everything we checked was consistent with fax.com:

  • Headers contained  "<- phonenumber ->" which is a distinct fax.com "signature" that is not used by other broadcasters
  • Removal number was 800-658-8133 which has been traced to fax.com on other faxes
  • The removal recording had 3 options: delete, add, talk to someone; only fax.com has 3 options.
  • The response number answered as "California Mortgage Services" which is a known fax.com call center
  • When we expressed interest, we were transferred to an admitted (from other cases) fax.com customer; we knew that because we knew all the people that worked there from previous research
  • the graphic elements share common elements with authenticated fax.com faxes

This is very compelling. Therefore, I always try to make absolutely sure, if possible, to determine the fax broadcasters. 

Exposing the fraud
So here it is, put all together for the first time so you can see the deception for yourself... 6 different header styles (including none at all) that are all traced back to fax.com! See fax.com Unmasked.

There are several ways to do that definitively, and I always try to do at least one of these four ways (the fourth way being the most innovative), in addition to the 30 methods below:

  • The response number is looked up as being assigned to a fax.com entity (see Investigation tools for how to lookup ownership of toll free numbers). This can be hard since many go directly to the advertiser or there is no response number because it is a pump and dump or because the entity that was used to subscribe the number is fictitious.
  • A fax.com person answers the phone when you call the response number (this can be hard to tell unless they answer as a known fax.com entity, e.g., "California Mortgage Services", "Consumer Source"). This is rare, but it does happen.
  • The removal number gives you 3 options: delete, add, speak to somone
  • The removal number sounds like 800-658-8133
  • I contact the advertiser, find out who they are, and they admit it was fax.com in return for your not suing them. This happens on occasion.
  • I don't specify which fax was sent by fax.com on the claim. I bring all my faxes to court. I serve Eric Wilson (or another officer of fax.com) with a subpoena at the same time as the claim (see WilsonSubpoena.pdf, but right click on the link and do save Target As... and save to your disk because if you try to open it directly, it will "clear" itself after loading) to produce all faxes he's sent since he was ordered to preserve evidence on July 8, 2003 (see fax.com to preserve evidence issued in San Jose by State Superior Court Judge Jack Komar on July 8, 2003). If Wilson brings nothing, he's in contempt of court since we know he's still an employee of fax.com because he just filed a lawsuit against me (see fax/fdc/WilsonVKirsch.pdf) and you get to construe that the data he failed to produce is exactly what you claimed it was. If he brings everything (which should be a big stack since they have LOTS of employees and send LOTS of faxes), then we have a nice reference set that other people can use to sue them (or prove he is lying if he omits one). So either way he loses. If he brings the evidence, I ask the judge to HOLD the evidence he produces. I can then go ask the clerk for a copy; it's a public record at that point. Such information is then valuable for anyone suing fax.com. If he only brings a few faxes, if you can show he didn't comply, then it's as good as if he had brought nothing, i.e., I can construe that the missing documents include my fax. He'll also need to explain to the judge how he knows which faxes are his. He'll have to explain why he didn't bring a complete customer list and all the faxes since he has an order to preserve records. He could just say "we're in wind down mode and we aren't sending any faxes anymore." Ask him if they sent any of the faxes you have and to explain how he knows that. He'll say no. Then I present the judge evidence that he's a lying (once again) in court by showing proof that one (or more) of the faxes was, in fact, sent by them using the techniques above or below. That will destroy Wilson's credibility in front of that judge for the future and give me great latitude to bring faxes against him in the future (people are not supposed to lie under oath).

If all else fails, you can point out that fax.com deliberately changes things on their faxes to mislead people and is not forthcoming with discovery (see the FCC Order of Forfeiture), their Chief Compliance Officer lies in court, and therefore, the burden should shift to them to prove to the judge that they didn't send that fax.

They may all look completely different, but if you get a junk fax, chances are >50% that it came from one company: fax.com. 

For example, all 4 of these faxes were sent to the same phone number by fax.com: FDCJunkFaxesJune2004

Or take a look at this archive of 61 different fax.com ads (4M download):
FDC61faxes. Do my faxes look like yours? Check out the headers.

Here are 16 different ads that fax.com sent over a period of almost 2 years for one customer (First Chartered Investments). Note the variations in the headers: FirstChartered16

Here are at well over 30 different ways you can verify it's coming from fax.com. It's possible to verify all  elements, but a single element may often be sufficient to establish preponderance.

The way to prove to a judge it's from fax.com is to use as many of the techniques on the page that you can and see if they give you the same answer. Even if you only get a match on one or two, that will give you the preponderance of the evidence which is the legal standard you need.

The removal number
Comparing the removal number to a known list of fax.com removal numbers is the simplest method. See the removal numbers listed in numerical order on the fax.com page. Also, fax.com customers and removal numbers, and the FCC compiled of fax.com customers and removal numbers.

If your number isn't listed here, dial it and listen to the recording. Does it sound like either of these? If so, it's fax.com.

 877 408 7671 "You have reached the fax removal number...."
 800-390-1403 "Thank you for calling our automated entry system...."

If the recording matches either of these, and is not on the list on the fax.com page, then please contact us using the Contact link to the left and let us know about the new number.

Note: While it is possible for another advertiser to publish fax.com's removal numbers on their faxes (and we've actually seen one fax where this was done), it is extremely rare because:

  • few other broadcasters has the "reach" of fax.com
  • any broadcaster that is likely to have the reach to get your number probably already has his own opt out numbers
  • the fax broadcaster wants to accommodate your opt out request so that you don't get upset and call the voice number and complain
  • the fax broadcaster makes more money if he just opts you out for that ONE advertiser so he wants to get the call himself

So if you match a fax.com removal number, the chances you got a fax.com fax are far better than 95%. Use the header similarity as a double-check.

The header
Headers are like fingerprints.

If you look at the faxes you get, you'll see that the headers from different companies are all different, but that the headers of two faxes from the same company are virtually identical. Junk faxes from fax.com all have similar headers. They vary a bit from faxcaster to faxcaster and they've changed them over the years, but they are still basically the same. If the headers are similar to a known fax.com fax as identified from the other characteristics, chances are >95% your fax is from fax.com.

Look for date/time in the left, optional text (such as <- -> and a fax number in the middle), and a page number to the right. Most recently, fax.com just has date/time/page in the header.

Note the fonts, the numbering style, use of leading zeroes, placement of each element.

Compare those headers to the headers of other faxes you received. If half of your faxes have similar headers, you've been hit by fax.com.

Look at the headers in these faxes. They are all sent by fax.com: 

A recent fax.com mortgage ad

19 fax.com faxes (older style)

Note that the headers change a bit from fax to fax since it can be sent from different machines with different programming.

NOTE: Recently fax.com has stopped using headers on some of their faxes and may also be missing removal numbers. This is also a clue that you have a fax.com fax as all the other major blasters don't do this. The good news is you can always subpoena the resp org for the 800 response number (usually Paetech for fax.com) and find out who it rings to or use the other techniques here.

The response number
Fax.com (Lighthouse Marketing) runs a call center to handle the calls for their advertisers who are ill-equipped to handle the call volumes. Fax.com handles this all in-house because it's incremental revenue to them; they get paid for the faxing, and they get paid for the response so they squeeze more dough from the same customer.

If they answer "Consumer Source" you know it's fax.com since that is one of their pseudonyms (we know this from tracing the number we dialed to a fictitious business which in turn lead to Data Research Systems). 

See Bridge Capital for an example of how we trace the number.

So when you call the 800 number to respond to an ad, you're really calling the Lighthouse Marketing call center organization run by Eric Brenner.

There is a list of a few recent 800 response numbers on the fax.com page from some of the faxes we've got.

If you want to verify a number, you can use Abika to lookup the 800 number (less credible), or you can use the Investigation tools to find out the Responsible Organization, then subpoena the provider to give you the name of the customer that it rings through to.

Jimmy Sutton did just this and found that response numbers 800-237-5848, 800-816-0435, 800-670-6024, 800-364-3061, and 800-819-5256 belong to Lighthouse Marketing (shown as a wholesaler), 15440 Laguna Canyon Rd., Irvine, CA 92618, and all ring-through to 949-265-3486. The contact names are Dan Freeman and Erwin Dass. Lighthouse Marketing has about 400 toll free numbers through the same resp org (i.e., through Paetec), all of which ring-through to the same number. See fdc800.PDF and fdc800-2.PDF for details. You can re-use these results in your own case.

Another person got 3 junk faxes and using the Investigation tools called Ameritech to locate the "owner" of the removal numbers listed on the faxes (866-252-6975, 866-269-0989, 866-255-5179, 866-267-1845).  Ameritech gave the name of a company called Allnet Communications at 800-466-4600 (which was acquired by Global Crossing), and Allnet told him that every number listed as a response number on the faxes is owned by a company called IVR. They would not give me the address of IVR, but they did give me their phone number - 305-534-1812.

Similarity with admitted fax.com ads from other cases
There are lots of cases (such as your previous cases) where fax.com shows up to Defend or the advertiser admits a contract with fax.com. You can show the judge a lot of similarities with these "known to be fax.com" faxes.

That you got a junk fax to begin with
Just the fact you got a junk fax means it's probably from fax.com since they send out about 80% of the junk faxes to "unlisted" fax numbers. This is pretty indirect and we wouldn't suggest you rely on this, but it is a mathematical fact that does establish preponderance (most judges won't rule on mathematical probability).

The reason that 80% of the junk faxes are from fax.com is three-fold: they have the largest database, they have the most capacity, and they have the most advertisers. The latter is critical because it's advertiser orders that determine how many faxes get sent out. Because fax.com has the most advertisers, it's only logical that they send out the most faxes.

% of your junk faxes after identifying the other blasters
I only get junk from 4 different blasters. Each has "identifying characteristics". So a given fax that comes in can quickly be identified as belonging to one of the other blasters who are easy to identify. Virtually all the faxes that remain after sorting into "other broadcasters" are fax.com faxes historically. Therefore, if I can't identify it, from a mathematical point of view, it's almost certainly a fax.com fax (although a court won't buy that argument).

The advertiser 
Finding new customers for any business is always tough. In order to grow, you need repeat business from your existing customers. Fax.com is no different. So see if the advertiser name appears anywhere on the ad (or call in response to the ad) and compare that with a list of know fax.com advertisers (e.g., your previous faxes that you've already identified as fax.com, e.g., via headers, removal number, advertiser name). A list of fax.com advertisers is on the fax.com page.

The graphics
Fax.com tries to make every ad look like it comes from a different company. They'll change everything...font sizes, fonts, wording, graphics, layout, etc. on subsequent ads from the same company. But since they use the same people, if you look closely, you'll see similarities in the ads. This is tricky because they are deliberately trying to make everything look different.

The offer
Same story as the graphics. Look closely at the offer and you'll see similarities with earlier faxes that you've previously taken the time to identify.

Intensity of attack
No other broadcaster has the total output capacity (well over 1M/day) to send a huge number of faxes in a short amount of time. If you suddenly get attacked with a deluge of ads, it's almost certainly fax.com.

Comparison with other sites that get junk faxes (in bulk)
Junkfax.org often gets complaints from sites that get bombarded with fax.com. Fax.com is the only company out there with the capacity to do this. Plus all the faxes are identified as fax.com using the techniques on this page. So we use the "variants" that we see (fonts, headers, removal numbers, etc.) to improve our ability to recognize the fax.com mutations. 

In short, when a company goes from getting no faxes, to suddenly getting 100 per day of 10 different advertisements, the chance of two broadcasters suddenly hitting the company at the same time with ads that are "similar" (using the tests on this page) is zero. Therefore, it's a great way to learn the various mutations fax.com uses.

Compare with other copies you received at the same time on a different number
I have several voice lines at home and one fax line. But when I'm gone, the voice lines will accept faxes. Fax.com is the only company that war dials my voice lines. Therefore, when I get a fax on my voice number, I know it's from fax.com. And when I get the SAME fax on all my voice numbers, there is no doubt. Nobody in the country is as aggressive as they are.

Compare with your friends (overall reach)
No other broadcaster has as broad a list of fax machines as fax.com. So if you get a fax and most of your friends got the same junk fax, you've probably been hit by fax.com. 

Compare with the offer #, removal #, advertiser list subpoenaed from fax.com
I've subpoenaed their list of offer #, removal #, and advertisers. If they provide it, I'll post it here. If they don't provide it, or provide an incomplete list, the judge isn't going to believe them anymore. If they don't produce the evidence you request in your subpoena and can't come up with a reason they can't comply, the judge will probably grant that the evidence says what you want it to say.

Look at the number of fax broadcasters who have my number(s) and the # of faxes from each broadcaster
Well over half my faxes are from fax.com. So when I get a junk fax, it's >50% chance it's from fax.com.

Voices of people who answer
I call up the response number. If I recognize the voice of the person who answers, I know it's them.

Names of people who answer
I call up the response number. If I recognize the name of the person who answers, I know it's them. Or I ask for someone whose name I know from another number already known to be fax.com.

How they answer the phone
I call up the response number. If I recognize the way they answer the phone, I know it's them.

The recording you get when you call the removal number
I call up the removal number. If I recognize the voice or the message, I know it's them.

Slip ups by people who answer
I call up the response number and hassle the person. Within 20 seconds, I can tell whether they work for Lighthouse, no matter how well trained they are.

ANI trace of the phone number that called
I forward my fax number to Abika which forwards it to my efax number. Abika picks off the ANI information. If there isn't any ANI information, it's fax.com (they illegally block it).

Fax.com arranged to block the ANI to make their calls harder to trace. That's certainly true if you don't know what's going on. But if you are experienced, a blocked ANI on a junkfax is a dead giveaway that the fax is coming from fax.com. This is a perfect example of how techniques to cover your tracks actually make you more visible (the same is true of e-mail spam).

Quality of the fax scan
Fax.com has great quality control on the transmission itself, much better than most broadcasters that you'd get junk faxes from. A typical individual only gets hit by less than 4 broadcasters, and most of those are lower quality than fax.com. Therefore, a high quality unsolicited fax is almost certainly going to be a fax.com fax.

Quality of the advertisement
Erwin Dass's graphics department does a great job on creating the ad. So the quality of the ad is a tipoff in the same way the quality of the scan was in the previous bullet.

Layout of the ad
Over time, you get to know their style. They vary (along with wording, fonts, etc.) it to try to fool you and make you think it's not coming from them, but if you invest a bit of time, you can see the patterns.

Fonts chosen
Over time, you get to know their style, but see "layout" above.

Use of words
Over time, you get to know their style. There are some very subtle things you can pick off that are done the same way every time. They try VERY hard to make things look different. To the untrained eye, they are different. If you know what to look for, you'll see the similarities.

Decoy numbers
We have incoming phone numbers that have ONLY been discovered by fax.com (which we know from the other techniques). So when we get a fax on those phone numbers, we KNOW it's from fax.com. Then we just use that as a reference set.

Testimony under oath/the advertiser admits it
Unless they want to lose the case or get thrown in jail, the Defendant probably will admit they used fax.com if you are suing the advertiser. If they lie, and you show the judge they are lying under oath, then they are probably going to lose the case. Same is true if you are suing fax.com directly. If you keep it to yourself how you are going to show the judge the similarities from the evidence that it was fax.com, and ask the Defendant first whether he sent it, it sets the Defendant up. If the Defendant lies and you expose that, you should win.

Explicit admission of advertiser
When you confront the advertiser with a lawsuit, the advertiser may admit they use fax.com, especially if you offer to take them off the lawsuit as a Defendant if they spill the beans on who they used.

Who shows up (in court, by phone, or in a letter) to defend
You know you've got a fax.com fax if the advertiser refers you to one of the "friendly" staff at Data Research Systems to "convince" you to drop your case, e.g., Charles Martin, Darrell Smiley, or Terry Breer aka Terri Cleland (Cleland is her maiden name; Breer is her married name and she also works out of Newport Beach).

Terri Breer has called me on behalf of Justin Snyder and Live Leads Corp. She offered to settle, only on their behalf, for $500. I said I would not settle for less than $2000, but that for $2000 I would settle with both them and their client (Delray Credit Counseling Corp).

Terri Breer, Esquire 
92 Argonaut, Suite 225 
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656 
(949) 580-2627 
(949) 580-2630 (fax)
(949) 756-5787

Subpoena the advertiser's phone records so you can look at who they call after you threaten to sue the shit out of them
If you handle it right on your call to the right person at the advertiser (someone in charge), they'll usually call their broadcaster to be comforted or to refer your case. You can subpoena their phone records and see whether they call the folks at Impact.

Subpoena the advertiser's fax.com contract or cancelled check or credit card entry showing they used fax.com
Make a deal with the advertiser. If they cooperate with a subpoena or freely provide their fax.com contract (or other evidence), you agree not to sue them. Nothing like having the advertiser supply your evidence to implicate fax.com.

Other screw ups
Like an illegal activity, there is no "perfect crime." They always make lots of mistakes. The list above is but a small sample.

Ask an expert for an Affidavit
You can contact us and we'll give you a "fax.com" expert to sign an affidavit attesting to the authenticity of your fax based on careful analysis of at least 10 different features, all of which lead to the same conclusion.

Other sites
Check out these sites:

The more Internet sites that are independent from you that corroborate your conclusions, the better. So if it matches a number on the junkfax.org site and one other Internet site, that is pretty strong evidence. 

Don't discount the fact that it is listed on the Junkfax.org site. We the #1 authority on the web on fax.com and all numbers that are listed are verified multiple ways. If you got a match on our site, you've met your "preponderance of the evidence" but the more things you can cite, the better.

There are several other techniques that I won't go into here that are 100% accurate alone in identifying fax.com faxes. If the 30 steps above don't work for you, let me know.

What's interesting is that if fax.com reacts to these techniques, they end up being even more identifiable!!! For example, if they vary elements so that they run 12 different versions of an ad, then we know anytime we get an ad on all our fax machines with 12 variants that it's fax.com.