Fax machines

Old Dec 1st 2016, 2:06 am
  #1  
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Default Fax machines

What is this American obsession with fax machines? Really.

Every business card and letter I get has got their fax number on it! Lost count of how many times people suggest I fax things to them. Or you can still buy "multi-function devices" with fax machines built in. No. Nonononono. Noooooooo. How about I use the scanner and e-mail it to you? Or I had to go to the doctors the other day in the US (believe me when I say I tried to avoid it) and I sat and watched the nurse print off the prescription and fax it to the pharmacy. You're aware you're sitting in front of a computer attached to the internet, right? Maybe this is some legal thing because it's a prescription.
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 2:15 am
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Default Re: Fax machines

I've wondered about this too.

Loads of places seem to want documents faxed so they can verify your identity but faxes are such poor resolution I have no idea how it's any use!

Verizon wanted a fax of my social security card and a utility bill recently, and didn't seem to have any way of accepting a scan attached to an email
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 2:19 am
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Default Re: Fax machines

I have seen a lot of companies accepting e-faxes. So, you use a fax machine to scan a document and send it to a number, and they get emailed with the scan.

Maybe cut out the middle man and let us directly email a scan? Is that innovation?
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 2:21 am
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Default Re: Fax machines

Yeah I had that with a US cable company, wanted a fax of my SSN card, forgotten that. It was like, this is a huge corporation and there's some idiot stood next to a fax machine waiting for it to pop out. Then they couldn't read it, I think I tried three times before they got it. And I bet said idiot standing next to the fax machine has got a master's degree.

Yes, you spent 5 years in university to work in Mega-Corp USA... as the person operating the fax machine.
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 2:30 am
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Default Re: Fax machines

When anyone tells me to fax a document, which doesn't happen very often these days, I ignore them and scan the document and email it. Except if they email me a PDF and tell me to print it, sign it, and fax it back, it which case I open the document in Adobe, add my signature from a file I have, create a stamp for the date, then redistil the PDF to lock the signature and date, then email it back. ..... I did an entire house purchase that way in 2012. The first time that mortgage generated a piece of paper that I saw was at the closing in the lawyer's office!
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 5:16 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

I've been working in healthcare IT for the past 10 years now, and Faxes are one of my pet peeves. I agree with everyone posting here that faxing sucks, but - it is considered secure. Emailing a document is, fundamentally, not (guaranteed to be) secure. Now, if you use a secure email implementation, it 'can be' secure, but by default, if you go in and scan a doc, then attach it to email, and send it, that transmission may not be secure (from end to end).

The discussion gets very convoluted, because much of the transmission IS secure, and all of it 'can be' secure, but there are parts that can end up being sent unencrypted over the public internet.

If you use a typical web-based email service like gmail, and 'upload' the attachment through your browser (which is likely to be SSL encrypted), and if the recipient is using a like service at their end, and if the two mail servers (yours and, say, the doctor's office) communicate over an encrypted link, then the entire process is secure. But if you use a client such as outlook, and if your mail server does not enforce encryption between mail client and mail server, then the path from your desktop to your mail server may not be encrypted. Further, the path from your mail server (lets say, at mycompany.com) to 'their' mail server (let's say, at 'mydoctorsoffice.com') could be unencrypted. A lot of mail servers use 'speculative TLS' (I forget the correct term...) - that is, they 'ask for' TLS encryption, but if the target server doesn't support it, then they fall back to unencrypted and send anyway.

This article provides some background on how mail-server to mail-server encryption may or may not be used:
https://luxsci.com/blog/how-to-tell-...nsmission.html

Now, what are the chances of someone snooping in on these potentially unencrypted channels? Highly unlikely. But is it theoretically possible? Yes. But more to the point, any company in business in healthcare has to be ready to pass audits, and the use of insecure email can cause you trouble during audits.

I, as a company IT guy, can ensure everything under my control is encrypted, but what is very hard to do is refuse to accept an email from someone because 'their side' is not secure. A company accepting an email that 'could be' insecure is taking on a potential liability by accepting it, and the most basic, sad solution at the moment is - use fax.

Most banks and larger healthcare concerns provide 'secure message systems' these days; basically 'email' but one that requires you to connect directly to their systems over the internet on an ssl connection. These systems let you upload docs and communicate securely with the recipient.

Last edited by Steerpike; Dec 1st 2016 at 5:20 pm.
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 5:45 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

I don't know. I much prefer to scan to PDF and email documents (and to receive them the same way). I do have an 'e-fax' number that allows me to receive faxes as a PDF on my email, though.

We do use a fax machine in our nursery because the yard manager there doesn't have an email, so I have to fax him plant lists when we need them and a text would be too cumbersome for a 10+ item list with plant names and sizes on there, so for that one very specific purpose, it's useful.

For credit applications, reprinted invoices, whatever else needs to go back and forth, I tend towards the PDF or GTFO philosophy.
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 6:03 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

Originally Posted by SultanOfSwing View Post
I don't know. I much prefer to scan to PDF and email documents (and to receive them the same way). I do have an 'e-fax' number that allows me to receive faxes as a PDF on my email, though.

We do use a fax machine in our nursery because the yard manager there doesn't have an email, so I have to fax him plant lists when we need them and a text would be too cumbersome for a 10+ item list with plant names and sizes on there, so for that one very specific purpose, it's useful.

For credit applications, reprinted invoices, whatever else needs to go back and forth, I tend towards the PDF or GTFO philosophy.
Be aware, most 'efax' solutions are also (potentially) insecure for all the same reasons as mentioned above for email. Most efax solutions let you send/receive emails through your normal email process, and the communication between your desktop (the mail client) and your mail server may not be secure. Use of a 'web based' mail service like gmail makes it secure, but if you use 'outlook', there's a risk.

If you use exchange, you are likely to be encrypted, but if you use POP/SMTP, that's where the issues arise. Go into the 'settings' for your service, and observe the 'advanced' tab. See attached image. Note that there are two settings for encryption. Both off by default. The good news is, most respectable mail services these days require you to choose encryption.

Some eFax services are guaranteed secure; but they typically require you to log into their website (ssl) and upload/download faxes.

Again, I'm not saying this is something to get worried about in general, just pointing out the issues.
Attached Thumbnails Fax machines-mailsettings.jpg  
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 6:26 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post
What is this American obsession with fax machines? Really.

Every business card and letter I get has got their fax number on it! Lost count of how many times people suggest I fax things to them. Or you can still buy "multi-function devices" with fax machines built in. No. Nonononono. Noooooooo. How about I use the scanner and e-mail it to you? Or I had to go to the doctors the other day in the US (believe me when I say I tried to avoid it) and I sat and watched the nurse print off the prescription and fax it to the pharmacy. You're aware you're sitting in front of a computer attached to the internet, right? Maybe this is some legal thing because it's a prescription.

In a law office you need the fax not the email for the document to be considered received. It must have the time stamp on the faxed page. We would email the document and then have to fax it to the client and/or the court. I've only been retired for 1-1/2 years and that was the way it was then.

And for people, like myself, who will not and cannot afford a frivolous $600 iPhone or anything other than a mere flip phone and wouldn't buy it anyway because the phone charges are outrageous. I also do not have a scanner. I use the USP Store if I need to scan something.

Last edited by Rete; Dec 1st 2016 at 6:31 pm.
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 6:46 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

Originally Posted by Steerpike View Post
Be aware, most 'efax' solutions are also (potentially) insecure for all the same reasons as mentioned above for email. Most efax solutions let you send/receive emails through your normal email process, and the communication between your desktop (the mail client) and your mail server may not be secure. Use of a 'web based' mail service like gmail makes it secure, but if you use 'outlook', there's a risk.

If you use exchange, you are likely to be encrypted, but if you use POP/SMTP, that's where the issues arise. Go into the 'settings' for your service, and observe the 'advanced' tab. See attached image. Note that there are two settings for encryption. Both off by default. The good news is, most respectable mail services these days require you to choose encryption.

Some eFax services are guaranteed secure; but they typically require you to log into their website (ssl) and upload/download faxes.

Again, I'm not saying this is something to get worried about in general, just pointing out the issues.
Oh, I'm sure it isn't, but I only ever receive blank forms or invoices via e-fax, so there's no sensitive information going through that service.
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 6:50 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

Faxes are widley used in Canada as well.

As others have said its considered secure where email is not.

Working hotels any document with personal information on it could only be faxed.

My GP faxes patient info for the same reason. I asked them why they didnt email.

My wifes last job in Canada in real estate everything was still faxed if confidential.


I have no scanner at home and in general its easier to fax. I have no idea where to go to scan and email but I can name several places where I can fax.

But its rare that I ever need to fax or email documents. Maybe once or twice in the last 5 or 6 years.

Last edited by scrubbedexpat091; Dec 1st 2016 at 6:58 pm.
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 7:25 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post
Yeah I had that with a US cable company, wanted a fax of my SSN card
For that, I would have told them to get lost.
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 7:56 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post
What is this American obsession with fax machines? Really.

Every business card and letter I get has got their fax number on it! Lost count of how many times people suggest I fax things to them. Or you can still buy "multi-function devices" with fax machines built in. No. Nonononono. Noooooooo. How about I use the scanner and e-mail it to you? Or I had to go to the doctors the other day in the US (believe me when I say I tried to avoid it) and I sat and watched the nurse print off the prescription and fax it to the pharmacy. You're aware you're sitting in front of a computer attached to the internet, right? Maybe this is some legal thing because it's a prescription.
I don't think there's any legal issue involved. My doctor sends the prescription straight through to the pharmacy on his computer and it's filled and ready for pick up a half hour later,

Maybe your doctor is just a sweet old fashioned kind of guy
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 8:15 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

Now that is a good idea. Direct sending of RX to the pharmacy. My doctor is 30 sommething and uses electronic prescriptions but he has to print them out and so I can take them in.

He like most doctors in my experience in Canada will not fax refills and patient has to come in for one otherwise the doctor cant bill for a visit.

I would love it though if the script could be sent in a head of time as you describe. Would save time.



Originally Posted by dc koop View Post
I don't think there's any legal issue involved. My doctor sends the prescription straight through to the pharmacy on his computer and it's filled and ready for pick up a half hour later,

Maybe your doctor is just a sweet old fashioned kind of guy
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Old Dec 1st 2016, 9:25 pm
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Default Re: Fax machines

Originally Posted by dc koop View Post
I don't think there's any legal issue involved. My doctor sends the prescription straight through to the pharmacy on his computer and it's filled and ready for pick up a half hour later,

Maybe your doctor is just a sweet old fashioned kind of guy
There are systems such as 'surescripts' that offer a secure interface between the doctor's office "EMR" program and many supported pharmacies. Completely bypasses the need for faxing or emailing. Works great but many smaller 'mom and pop' doctor's offices don't have the expertise to setup these types of interfaces and/or they don't want to pay for the service.

The good news is, all medical offices are required now to use some form of EMR (computerized practice management - Electronic Medical Record), and once you have that, interfacing in this manner does become easier.
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