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                           Before the
                Federal Communications Commission
                     Washington, D.C. 20554


In the Matter of                 )
                                )
US Notary, Inc.                  )
                                )    File No. EB-00-TC-011
                                )
Apparent Liability for           )    NAL/Acct. No. X3217-006
Forfeiture                       )
                                )
                                )


                        FORFEITURE ORDER

   Adopted:  October 3, 2001            Released: October 12, 
2001

By the Commission:  Commissioner Abernathy issuing a statement.


                        I.  INTRODUCTION

     1.   In this order,  we issue a  monetary forfeiture in  the 
amount of  $90,000  against  US  Notary,  Inc.  (US  Notary)  for 
willfully or  repeatedly violating  Section 227(b)(1)(C)  of  the 
Communications Act  of  1934,  as  amended  (the  Act),  and  the 
Commission's  related  rules   and  orders.1    US  Notary   sent 
unsolicited advertisements to telephone facsimile machines on  20 
separate occasions.  

                         II.  BACKGROUND

     2.   On July  12,  1999,  in response  to  several  consumer 
letters  indicating  that   US  Notary   had  faxed   unsolicited 
advertisements, the  Commission staff  issued  a citation  to  US 
Notary, pursuant to section 503(b) of the Act.  Specifically, the 
staff cited US Notary for  allegedly using a telephone  facsimile 
machine,  computer,   or  other   device  to   send   unsolicited 
advertisements to a telephone  facsimile machine in violation  of 
section 227 of  the Act  and the Commission's  rules and  orders.  
The unsolicited  advertisements  at  issue offered  a  ``One  Day 
Training Seminar''  to  become  a Notary  Public.   The  citation 
included copies of  the consumer letters  and informed US  Notary 
that subsequent  violations could  result  in the  imposition  of 
monetary forfeitures of up to  $11,000 per violation.  The  owner 
of US Notary,  Bruce Johnson,  met with the  Commission staff  on 
August 3, 1999.  During that meeting, the staff reiterated to Mr. 
Johnson that it is unlawful to send unsolicited advertisements to 
telephone  facsimile  machines,  as  defined  by  the   Telephone 
Consumer Protection Act  (TCPA) and the  Commission's rules,  and 
provided him with a copy of  the TCPA.  Despite the citation  and 
the subsequent  August  3,  1999 meeting,  the  Commission  later 
received several letters stating that US Notary had continued  to 
fax unsolicited advertisements after receiving the citation.2  On 
August 1,  2000,  the  Commission issued  a  Notice  of  Apparent 
Liability (NAL)  against US  Notary  that proposed  a  forfeiture 
amount of $90,000 for 20 apparent violations.  The NAL was  based 
on unsolicited advertisements that US Notary had apparently  sent 
since July  17, 1999,  the  day US  Notary received  the  staff's 
citation.3  US Notary filed its  response to the NAL on  November 
3, 2000.

                        III.  DISCUSSION

     3.   In its response to  the NAL, US  Notary argues that  it 
should not be found liable for violations of the TCPA.  It argues 
specifically  that:   1)  another  company  doing  business  with 
complainant Arrick Robotics  may have given  the Arrick  Robotics 
facsimile number to  US Notary's advertising  department; 2)  the 
fax sent to complainant William Pratt does not have a header  and 
US Notary is unable to track it; 3) US Notary had an established, 
ongoing  business  relationship  with  complainant  Joe  Shields' 
employer, Lockheed  Martin, and  had provided  training to  other 
NASA employees; 4) the fax  sent to the Texas Attorney  General's 
office (another  complainant)  was either  requested  by  another 
division of the Attorney General's office, or, alternatively, the 
Texas Secretary of State's office, which had reviewed US Notary's 
advertising in the past and may  have forwarded the flyer to  the 
office of the Attorney General; 5) the Lone Star Report  (another 
complainant) wanted US Notary to advertise in its publication and 
had  requested  that  US  Notary  fax  an  ad  for  purposes   of 
determining what it would  cost to run  the advertisement in  the 
Lone  Star  Report;  and  6)  US  Notary's  questions   regarding 
applicability of state  and federal laws  had gone unanswered  by 
the Commission staff.4  US Notary further stated that it intended 
to cease business by  January 1, 2001.5   As discussed below,  we 
reject each of US Notary's arguments.

     4.   The Arrick Robotics  Complaint:  Roger  Arrick, in  his 
Requests for  Commission Action,  states that  he received  three 
unsolicited advertisements  by fax  from  US Notary  in  December 
1999, March 2000,  and on April  28, 2000.  In  its response,  US 
Notary indicates  that  it is  not  certain why  Arrick  Robotics 
received these faxes, but  suggests that perhaps another  company 
with whom Mr. Arrick does business had given his fax number to US 
Notary's advertising department.6   US Notary  requests that  the 
Commission refrain from imposing a forfeiture for these  apparent 
violations.  We are not convinced  by US Notary's argument.   The 
Commission has  previously stated  that by  merely publishing  or 
distributing its  facsimile number,  the owner  of the  facsimile 
machine has not given prior  express permission or invitation  to 
receive advertisements.7   The  Commission  also  indicated  that 
given the  wide  variety  of  circumstances  in  which  telephone 
facsimile numbers  might be  distributed (i.e.,  business  cards, 
advertisements,   directory   listings,   trade   journals,    or 
association membership), it would treat  the issue of consent  to 
receive fax advertisements on a  case-by-case basis.8  We do  not 
believe that obtaining a third party's fax number from a business 
associate establishes  a  business relationship  with  the  third 
party, nor  does  it  demonstrate  prior  express  permission  or 
invitation  from   the   third   party   to   receive   facsimile 
advertisements.9  US Notary's speculation  as to how it  obtained 
Arrick Robotics' facsimile number confirms Mr. Arrick's statement 
that US Notary did  not have either  prior express permission  to 
send the fax  or an  established business  relationship with  Mr. 
Arrick or  Arrick Robotics.10   We therefore  reject US  Notary's 
arguments with  respect  to  the Arrick  Robotics  Complaint  and 
impose a forfeiture for these violations.

     5.   The  William  Pratt  Complaint:   In  his  Request  for 
Commission Action,  William Pratt  states  that he  received  one 
unsolicited facsimile advertisement  from US  Notary.  US  Notary 
argues that it  is impossible  to track  the letter  sent to  Mr. 
Pratt because  the  ``faxes  no longer  have  a  header.''11   As 
described  in  the  NAL,  however,  Mr.  Pratt  stated  that  the 
facsimile did not have a header when received.12  The TCPA  makes 
it unlawful for any  person to send any  message via a  telephone 
facsimile machine ``unless such person clearly marks, in a margin 
at the top or bottom of  each transmitted page of the message  or 
on the first page  of the transmission, the  date and time it  is 
sent and  an identification  of the  business, other  entity,  or 
individual sending the  message and the  telephone number of  the 
sending  machine   or  of   such  business,   other  entity,   or 
individual.''13  On the  facts presented,  we find  that the  fax 
advertisement sent to Mr. Pratt did not include a header.   While 
the failure to  include this  information on  the fax  in no  way 
excuses US Notary from the prohibition on sending unsolicited fax 
advertisements, it does  confirm another  potential violation  of 
the TCPA.  Moreover, US Notary  has offered no evidence to  rebut 
the fact that the advertisement was for US Notary's services.  We 
reject US Notary's  arguments as to  the William Pratt  Complaint 
and   impose   a   forfeiture   for   faxing   the    unsolicited 
advertisement.14

     6.   The  Joe  Shields  Complaint:   In  his  Requests   for 
Commission Action, Joe Shields, Engineering Specialist,  Lockheed 
Martin/Johnson  Space  Center,  states  that  US  Notary  used  a 
telephone facsimile machine to send 12 unsolicited advertisements 
to Johnson  Space Center  fax machines  in October  and  December 
1999, and again in February, March, and May 2000.15  According to 
Mr. Shields, US Notary  sent advertisements to several  different 
facsimile machines at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.  
US Notary argues,  however, that it  has an ongoing  relationship 
with Mr. Shields's employer at the Johnson Space Center, Lockheed 
Martin,  and  further  argues  that   it  also  has  an   ongoing 
relationship with NASA.  In its response, US Notary provides  the 
names of seven  students from  Lockheed Martin  and six  students 
from NASA  who were  trained  by US  Notary  and the  dates  they 
attended US Notary  seminars.16  As  a result  of having  trained 
those students,  US  Notary claims  that  it has  an  established 
relationship with the  students' employers,  Lockheed Martin  and 
NASA.17 

     7.   The Enforcement  Bureau  (Bureau)  staff  was  able  to 
contact five of the NASA students and five of the Lockheed Martin 
students trained by US Notary.   Eight of the students said  that 
they had not contacted US  Notary prior to receiving  information 
about the  seminar.   Seven  of the  students  recall  that  they 
registered for the training as the result of their office  having 
received an unsolicited fax  regarding the training.  The  others 
did not recall how they learned about the training.  None of  the 
NASA students  contacted  were  located in  Texas.   One  of  the 
Lockheed Martin  students  was  located in  Dallas,  Texas.   The 
office that  received the  faxes  that are  the subject  of  this 
complaint is  located  several  hundred miles  away  in  Houston, 
Texas.  Based on this information, we find that US Notary has not 
shown that  it  has  an established  relationship  with  Lockheed 
Martin  or  NASA.    It  has  not   provided  any   documentation 
demonstrating that anyone at the  Johnson Space Center had  given 
their prior  express  invitation  or permission  to  receive  the 
advertisements.  Our investigation does  not support US  Notary's 
argument that it had an  ongoing business relationship with  NASA 
or Lockheed Martin.  The mere fact that US Notary provided notary 
training to some employees of  Lockheed Martin and NASA does  not 
by itself establish  a business relationship  with the  students' 
employers.  Each student  who recalled  how they  learned of  the 
training stated  they  were informed  about  the training  by  an 
unsolicited  fax  advertisement.   Hence,  it  appears  that  any 
relationships US Notary had with these parties were initiated  by 
unlawful fax advertising.  We therefore  find that US Notary  has 
failed to substantiate its claim of a prior established  business 
relationship with NASA  or Lockheed Martin.   Finally, US  Notary 
also states in its response that none of the faxes display in the 
header or footer the  number of the  receiving fax machine.   The 
TCPA does not require fax machines to indicate the number of  the 
receiving facsimile  machine.   It  does,  however,  require  the 
telephone number of the sending machine.18  Consequently, we must 
reject US Notary's arguments regarding the Joe Shields  Complaint 
and   impose   a   forfeiture   for   faxing   the    unsolicited 
advertisements.

     8.   The Lone  Star Report  Complaint:  US  Notary  contends 
that it transmitted a copy of  its flyer to the Lone Star  Report 
to obtain a quote for the cost of an advertisement.19  US  Notary 
indicates that  the Lone  Star Report  solicited its  advertising 
business.20  US Notary has not, however, provided any evidence in 
the way of affidavits or documentation to support its claim.   In 
the absence of such documentation, we reject US Notary's claim.

     9.   The Texas Attorney General  Complaint:  We also  reject 
US Notary's arguments with respect  to the faxes received by  the 
Texas Attorney General's Office.   In his Request for  Commission 
Action, C.  Brad  Schuelke,  Assistant  Attorney  General,  Texas 
Attorney General's  Office,  states  that  he  forwarded  to  the 
Commission two unsolicited advertisements that were faxed to  the 
Texas Attorney General's Office together  with a fax received  by 
Texas State government employee, Bernice Tesmer, who stated  that 
she received one unsolicited advertisement by fax from US Notary.  
US Notary argues that because it has conducted training for other 
government agencies, it is not unusual for the company to fax its 
seminar schedule  to government  agencies at  their request.   US 
Notary did not indicate that it has provided training for  anyone 
at the Texas Attorney General's office.  US Notary further argues 
that the Office of the Attorney General may have requested a list 
of seminar  dates  and  that  perhaps  another  division  in  the 
Attorney General's  Office requested  the information,  but  that 
someone else received  the fax.  Finally,  US Notary argues  that 
the Texas  Secretary of  State's office,  which had  reviewed  US 
Notary's advertising in the past, may have forwarded the  seminar 
schedule to the Attorney  General's Office.21  Regardless of  its 
speculation, US Notary has failed to provide us with any evidence 
indicating the  existence of  a  business relationship  with  the 
Texas Attorney  General's  Office.   Given the  absence  of  such 
evidence, or  any  evidence  that the  Texas  Attorney  General's 
Office had given US Notary prior express permission or invitation 
to send facsimile advertisements, we reject US Notary's  argument 
as to the Texas Attorney General complaint.

     10.  The Applicability of  State and  Federal Statutes:   US 
Notary argues that  questions it  posed to  the Commission  staff 
regarding  the  applicability  of  State  and  Federal   statutes 
allegedly   went   unanswered,   and   that   it   believed   its 
advertisements sent to facsimile machines in Texas were permitted 
under  Texas  law.   Specifically,  US  Notary  included  in  its 
Response a copy of  a letter it purportedly  sent to Mr.  (Glenn) 
Reynolds on August 13, 1999, asking, among other things,  whether 
the  TCPA   prohibition   against   sending   unsolicited   faxes 
``trumped''  laws  enacted  in  California  and  New  York  which 
appeared to permit the sending of unsolicited faxes to other  fax 
machine within  the same  state.22  US  Notary also  states  that 
after consulting  with  its  counsel, it  determined  that  there 
should not be a problem faxing  to customers in Texas because  it 
believed Texas  law allows  unsolicited facsimile  advertising.23  
As stated in the NAL,24 Commission staff met with the owner of US 
Notary on August 3, 1999,  and (1) specifically advised him  that 
it is unlawful  to send unsolicited  advertisements to  telephone 
facsimile machines, as set out  in the TCPA and the  Commission's 
rules and orders,25 and (2) provided him with a copy of the TCPA.  
At least from the  time US Notary received  our citation, it  had 
actual notice of the  TCPA's prohibition against unsolicited  fax 
advertising.  The fact that  the company had questions  regarding 
the precise scope of the prohibition does not excuse its  failure 
to comply with the law. Moreover, the applicability of state  law 
is not relevant to questions of compliance with federal law here.  
Regardless of what state law does or does not require, US  Notary 
had an independent  obligation to  comply with the  TCPA and  the 
Commission's associated rules.

     11.  US Notary's Claim That  It Would Cease Operations:   In 
its response to the NAL, US Notary stated, apparently as part  of 
its argument  that  we  should reduce  or  rescind  the  proposed 
forfeiture, that its owner had  decided to close the company  and 
cease business by  January 1,  2001.26  On May  30, 2001,  Bureau 
staff contacted  the toll-free  telephone  number listed  on  the 
advertisements that were  the subject  of the US  Notary NAL.   A 
recorded message  on  the  original US  Notary  toll-free  number 
referred Commission staff  to a new  toll-free number, which  was 
answered as  ``Notary Services.''   When asked  if this  was  the 
number for  US Notary,  Bureau staff  was told  by the  telephone 
operator  that   they   disseminated  information   and   handled 
registration for  US  Notary.   In  response  to  a  request  for 
information on notary training  seminars, Bureau staff  received, 
on May  31,  2001, a  fax  advertisement for  notary  training.27  
Based upon the staff inquiries, it is apparent that US Notary has 
not ceased operations and is continuing to offer notary training.  
We therefore  cannot  accept US  Notary's  claim to  have  ceased 
operations and  we  decline to  reduce  or rescind  the  proposed 
forfeiture on this basis.  Moreover, even if US Notary had ceased 
operations,  it  would  still  be  liable  for  TCPA   violations 
committed prior to its ceasing operation.

                         IV.  CONCLUSION

     12.  After reviewing the information  filed by US Notary  in 
its Response, we find that US Notary has failed to identify facts 
or circumstances to persuade us that that there is any basis  for 
reducing or rescinding the forfeiture  proposed in the US  Notary 
NAL.  We therefore impose a $90,000 forfeiture penalty.

                      V.  ORDERING CLAUSES

     13.  Accordingly, IT IS  ORDERED THAT,  pursuant to  Section 
503(b)(5) of  the Act,  as amended,  47 U.S.C.   503(b)(5),  and 
section 1.80 of the Commission's Rules,  47 C.F. R.  1.80,  that 
US Notary,  Inc., IS  LIABLE  FOR A  MONETARY FORFEITURE  in  the 
amount $90,000  for willful  or  repeated violations  of  section 
227(b)(1)(C) of  the  Act,  47 U.S.C.    227(b)(1)(C),  sections 
64.1200(a)(3) and  64.1200(f)(5) of  the Commission's  Rules,  47 
C.F.R.  64.1200(a)(3), 64.1200(f)(5), and the related orders.

     14.  Payment of the forfeiture shall  be made in the  manner 
provided for in section 1.80 of the Commission's Rules within  30 
days of the release  of this Order.28  If  the forfeiture is  not 
paid within the period specified, the case may be referred to the 
Department of Justice for  collection pursuant to section  504(a) 
of the Act.29   Payment may be  made by credit  card through  the 
Commission's Credit and Debt Management Center at (202)  418-1995 
or by mailing a check or similar instrument, payable to the order 
of  the  Federal  Communications   Commission,  to  the   Federal 
Communications Commission,  P.O.  Box  73482,  Chicago,  Illinois 
60673-7482.  The payment should note the NAL/Acct. No. referenced 
above.  Requests  for  full  payment under  an  installment  plan 
should be sent to: Chief, Credit and Debt Management Center,  445 
12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.

     15.  IT IS FURTHER  ORDERED that a  copy of this  Forfeiture 
Order shall be sent by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to 
Bruce Johnson, Owner, US Notary, Inc., 1033 Vista Sierra Dr.,  El 
Cajon, California 92019.


                         FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION



                         Magalie Roman Salas
                         Secretary

    SEPARATE STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER KATHLEEN ABERNATHY


In re: US Notary, Inc. Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 
Forfeiture Order

     I support today's Forfeiture Order holding US Notary 
monetarily liable for distributing unsolicited faxes.  
However, I write separately to emphasize the continued 
importance of vigorously enforcing this and other statutory 
mandates.

     The fundamental duty of the FCC is to implement 
statutes promulgated by Congress.  In 1992, Congress 
recognized the need to provide relief to consumers plagued 
by unsolicited fax advertising by enacting the Telephone 
Consumer Protection Act.30  Unfortunately, the Commission 
did not bring its first enforcement action under the TCPA's 
ban on unsolicited faxes for 7 years.31

     I am heartened that in recent years the FCC has begun 
to enforce its rules more regularly.  Today, by imposing a  
$90,000 forfeiture on US Notary, we further demonstrate that 
eliminating unsolicited faxes is a priority of this 
Commission.  I also want to take this opportunity to 
encourage consumers to complain to the offending companies 
and the Commission after receiving unsolicited faxes. 

     For the sake of consumers and the entities we regulate, 
it is imperative that we enforce our rules vigorously and 
dependably.  Otherwise, we simultaneously ignore our 
statutory duty to uphold the public interest and leave a 
cloud of doubt over how seriously this Commission takes its 
rules.

_________________________

1         See   47   U.S.C.      227(b)(1)(C);   47   C.F.R.    
64.1200(a)(3); Rules and  Regulations Implementing the  Telephone 
Consumer Protection  Act of  1991, Report  and Order,  7 FCC  Rcd 
8752, 8779   54  (1992)  (TCPA Report and  Order) (stating  that 
Section 227 of the Act  prohibits the use of telephone  facsimile 
machines to send unsolicited advertisements); see also 47  U.S.C. 
 503(b)(5) (authorizing the  Commission to determine  forfeiture 
liability subsequent to issuing a citation to a non-regulatee for 
violations of the Act or of the Commission's rules and orders).
2         See US Notary, Inc.,  Notice of Apparent Liability  for 
Forfeiture, 15  FCC Rcd  16999,  17000   3 (2000)  (``US  Notary 
NAL'').
3         Id. at 17001  3.
4         US Notary Response to the NAL (``Response'').
5         Response at 4.
6         Response at 2.
7         See Rules  and Regulations  Implementing the  Telephone 
Consumer Protection Act of 1991, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 10 
FCC Rcd 12391, 12408   37 (1995) (``TCPA Memorandum Opinion  and 
Order'').
8         Id. at 12408-09  37.
9         See 47  U.S.C.    227(a)(4);  see  also  47  C.F.R.   
64.1200(f)(4)-(5).
10   See Declaration of Roger Arrick, owner of Arrick Robotics.
11   Response at 3.
12   US Notary NAL, 15 FCC Rcd at 17001  6.  
13   47  U.S.C.    227(d)(1)(B).   Although  the   advertisement 
received by Mr. Pratt did not include a header that contained the 
information  required   by  this   section   of  the   Act,   the 
advertisement offered notary training in April 2000 by US  Notary 
at four Texas locations.  See Declaration of William Pratt.
14   We did  not propose  a forfeiture  based on  the failure  to 
include the fax header and do not impose one here.  
15   In an amendment  dated June 25,  2001, Mr. Shields  modified 
his declaration to correctly state his fax number at the  Johnson 
Space Center.
16   Response at 1.
17   The  Commission's  rules  define  an  established   business 
relationship as a relationship created as a result of ``voluntary 
two-way  communication''  between  the  parties.   47  C.F.R.    
64.1200(f)(4).
18   See  5, supra.
19   See Request for Commission Action from David Guenthrer,  The 
Lone Star  Report  (via  the  Texas  Attorney  General's  Office) 
stating that  The  Lone  Star  Report  received  one  unsolicited 
advertisement by fax from US Notary.
20   Response at 3.
21   Response at 3.
22   US Notary also asked: 1) whether the California and New York 
laws were valid; 2) how to determine when a business relationship 
ends; 3) what the liability is  for faxing at the request of  one 
employee if  the fax  is received  by another  individual in  the 
company; 4) how  long a business  relationship must exist  before 
faxing can commence; 5) how long  after service is rendered is  a 
business allowed to continue faxing ads for its services; and  6) 
if one  branch of  a  company uses  its  service, can  US  Notary 
contact other branches of the company for the same services.  See 
the copy of US Notary's letter  to Mr. Reynolds that is  attached 
to  its  Response  at  Exhibit  A.   We  note  that  US  Notary's 
obligation to comply  with federal law  was not suspended  simply 
because it sent these inquiries to our staff.
23   Response at 2.
24   US Notary NAL, 15 FCC Rcd at 17000  2.
25   See 47 U.S.C.  227; 47 C.F.R.  64.1200(a)(3).  See also 47 
U.S.C.   227(e)  (allowing  states to  impose  more  restrictive 
intrastate  requirements  on  the  use  of  telephone   facsimile 
machines  or  other  electronic   devises  to  send   unsolicited 
advertisements.)
26   Response at 4.
27   According to Dun & Bradstreet Information Report, US Notary, 
Inc. continues to be headquartered at 1033 Vista Sierra Drive, El 
Cajon, California,  as a  provider  of schooling  or  educational 
services, specializing  in educational  services on  notary  law.  
See Dun &  Bradstreet Business Information  Report, May 9,  2001.  
Commission staff also searched the California Secretary of  State 
Business Service Center  website, which  listed US  Notary as  an 
active corporation.  See California  Secretary of State  Business 
Service Center Corporation Report, June 10, 2001.
28   47 C.F.R.  1.80(f)(4).
29   47 U.S.C.  504(a).
30 Pub. L.  102-556, Title IV,  402, 106  Stat. 4194 (1992) 
(codified at 47 U.S.C.  227(b)(1)(c).
31 See  Get-Aways, Inc.,  File No. ENF-99-TC-001,  Notice of 
Apparent Liability, 15 FCC Rcd 1805 (1999).