What is a Fax Disclaimer?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A fax disclaimer is a statement on a fax containing potentially sensitive or confidential information, indicating that the fax is intended for the use of the recipient only. Fax disclaimers are typically used when businesses or individuals need to send sensitive information by fax and they want to protect themselves from liability associated with information gone astray. Similar disclaimers are used on email communications in some regions of the world, and in many companies, people are asked to use a standardized disclaimer developed by legal advisors.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

There are several elements to a fax disclaimer. The first is a statement about how the information is intended to get into the hands of the person addressed on the fax, and is not meant to be used by other people. The disclaimer also contains a clause about the confidentiality of the information, and says the information should not be distributed or shared by any means. In addition, a fax disclaimer usually asks recipients to contact the sender if a fax is sent in error.

People who receive faxes by accident when they are not the intended recipients should contact the sender using the information on the fax disclaimer both to avoid getting future faxes by mistake, and so the sender knows the fax never reached the intended destination. While many fax machines print out confirmations, the confirmation doesn't say who got the fax, only that the information was successfully transmitted. A phone call will alert people and allow them to check the fax number they have on file and to resend to the correct person.

Someone who receives a fax in error should ideally shred it, if an office has a shredder, to prevent a breach of confidentiality. Incinerator disposal is also appropriate. While the paper can simply be dropped in the recycling, there is a potential for the fax to be taken by someone not authorized to look at the information. Depending on the contents of the fax, this could pose a problem for the sender and recipient.

Typically, fax disclaimers are printed on the cover page of the fax, with the goal of alerting people to the fact that they should not look at the fax if they are not the intended recipients. They may also be used as footers on individual pages of the fax. While a fax disclaimer does not create a legal relationship, maintaining the confidentiality of the information is expected out of common courtesy and people who use information from confidential faxes may find the validity of that use challenged if a situation winds up in court.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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