SOLE-TRADER travel agents are now protected by law from being bombarded by paper-wasting faxes from operators and consolidators.
The UK Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1998, which have just come into force, protect agents who are not part of a limited company from the mountains of unwanted special offer faxes often sent overnight.
But according to Equinus technology consultancy partner Graham Harris, most sole traders don't know they can cut off the junk faxes just by calling the offending operators to say they don't want any more. If more arrive, they are being sent illegally.
The law also says that limited company agents can only receive unsolicited faxes if the fax has a freephone number or address which the agent can then use to cancel any further unwanted correspondence.
A telephone preference service also exists. If agents sign up to this, not even one unsolicited fax can be sent to them legally.
Harris said: "This is a little known law that was brought in after an European Union directive on the subject. For sole traders it is an important change. But it cuts both ways.
"As well as non-limited company agents not realising that they have the power to report senders of junk faxes, the operators do not realise they are breaking the law by sending them. The travel industry as a whole needs to be warned of this."
If a company does send junk faxes to sole traders without an agreement, the agent can then report that company to watchdog Oftel, the Direct Marketing Association or the Data Protection Registrar. The latter has the power to take companies to court.
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