Legal status of faxes


I

Iain

What legal status does a fax have, providing, through computer logs, you can
prove the sending of the fax, its content, and the confirmation that it has
been received?

The reason for asking this is that I have recently made a complaint about
DWP Belfast, one item being that a faxed letter was ignored. Their response
is that they suggest that I phone to confirm that the fax has been received
because sometimes the faxes are illegible or have jammed, etc.

1. The issue of correspondence not being dealt with in Belfast has been
around for several years. Is their level of technology and management
structure such that there still appears to be a risk that documents faxed
are not received (dealt with) - for whatever reason? This is quite
disturbing especially as much of what goes on there is document-based ... or
is this just another excuse?

2. Is there an obligation for the sender also to phone to seek confirmation
of satisfactory receipt of a fax, or is the fax log sufficient? In my
current instance, it is a letter. (From their reply, it seems that
Jobcentres also need to phone at the same time ??)

TIA
Iain
 
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S

Sharky

Iain said:
What legal status does a fax have, providing, through computer logs, you can
prove the sending of the fax, its content, and the confirmation that it has
been received?
Absolutely none, your logs prove nothing about the correct reception of
the fax by the correct recipient.
1) Your system may have misdialled or the phone system may have
incorrectly routed the fax to another fax number.
3) The recipient fax may be ink based, and the ink had run out leading
to a blank page being produced
4) The recipient fax may be thermal, if the thermal head fails then blan
page printed.
5) The page may have been saved in memory and lost after a power fail

etc etc.

Basically, unlike Telex which had built in safeguards to ensure
reception could be legally proved, fax has little or no safeguards
against error and recption reports cannot be relied on.
Further more, faxes printed on thermal paper fade (especially if kept in
warm or sunlight) and this gives another reason why they cannot be
relied on.
 
T

The Todal

Iain said:
What legal status does a fax have, providing, through computer logs, you
can prove the sending of the fax, its content, and the confirmation that
it has been received?
As with a letter, the fact that you have sent it gives rise to a presumption
that it has been safely received but if the recipient says that they did not
receive it, you have little option but to believe them. Letters can
obviously get lost in the post or damaged by sorting equipment or lost by
the recipient organisation (misfiled). A fax can be illegible or
accidentally attached to another fax for another person.

There is no point in entering into an argument based purely on your belief
that they must have received and read your communication, if they say they
didn't.
 
M

Mike

Iain said:
What legal status does a fax have, providing, through computer logs, you can
prove the sending of the fax, its content, and the confirmation that it has
been received?

The reason for asking this is that I have recently made a complaint about
DWP Belfast, one item being that a faxed letter was ignored. Their response
is that they suggest that I phone to confirm that the fax has been received
because sometimes the faxes are illegible or have jammed, etc.

1. The issue of correspondence not being dealt with in Belfast has been
around for several years. Is their level of technology and management
structure such that there still appears to be a risk that documents faxed
are not received (dealt with) - for whatever reason? This is quite
disturbing especially as much of what goes on there is document-based ... or
is this just another excuse?

2. Is there an obligation for the sender also to phone to seek confirmation
of satisfactory receipt of a fax, or is the fax log sufficient? In my
current instance, it is a letter. (From their reply, it seems that
Jobcentres also need to phone at the same time ??)

TIA
Iain
Other posters have highlighted the obvious issue that you sending a fax
far from proves it was received or was legible at the other end.

From a DWP perspective there is little guidance about when a fax can
and cannot be accepted. As a general rule I would not accepted a fax
purporting to come from a customer other than to confirm or to clarify
info already held. I would under no circumstances accept a faxed change
of address, bank details or anything that affected the rate of benefit
as I have no way at all to confirm it came from a customer or
conversely, to prove it came from a customer. Any fax providing such
info would have to be followed up in writing or by tel. Equally a claim
to any benefit cannot legally be made by fax, though you could ask for a
form.

If you were enquiring about payments or requesting details of your
entitlement the DWP can certainly phone or write to the address already
held on their records.

Increasingly much of the DWP is starting to take info & claims for
benefit over the phone once the customers ID has been confirmed via
security questions. The information given does not have to be confirmed
in writing however bank balances etc have to verified via statements or
other documentation as now. There is I'm sure plenty of scope for fraud
in this (as with internet claims!) however the DWP is prepared to allow
that for the ease & cost savings involved.

Mike
 
P

Peter Crosland

.. Equally a
claim to any benefit cannot legally be made by fax, though you could
ask for a form.
Care to cite the exact law or regulation that says this?

Peter Crosland
 
M

Mike

Mike said:
From a DWP perspective there is little guidance about when a fax can
and cannot be accepted. As a general rule I would not accepted a fax
purporting to come from a customer other than to confirm or to clarify
info already held. I would under no circumstances accept a faxed change
of address, bank details or anything that affected the rate of benefit
as I have no way at all to confirm it came from a customer or
conversely, to prove it came from a customer. Any fax providing such
info would have to be followed up in writing or by tel. Equally a claim
to any benefit cannot legally be made by fax, though you could ask for a
form.
Why are you more willing to accept a letter ("...followed up in
writing") than a fax? In neither case can you be sure of the origin.
 
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M

Mike

Peter said:
. Equally a

Care to cite the exact law or regulation that says this?

Peter Crosland
Claims to all benefits must be made on a form (or manner as in
teleclaims) prescribed by the secretary of state wether that be a PC1,
JSA1, A1 et etc. Nowher in the various regs for the varous benefits
will you find 'oh and you can fax it in if you like luv'.

Mike
 
M

Mike

Mike said:
Why are you more willing to accept a letter ("...followed up in
writing") than a fax? In neither case can you be sure of the origin.
True enough but a fax is neither a signed statement nor a call taken
after establishing the callers ID, they are the usual requirements for
reporting a change in circumstances. Guidance varies form benefit to
benefit and will almost certainly net mention faxes at all. The DWP
does not have scanned versions of a customers sig nor files to hand 99%
of the time, files are stored remotely and not retrieved as a matter of
routine.

There are regular attemts to hijack benefit claims (I dealt with 2 last
month) and it's only by staff being alert to discrepancies that prevents
them. They have no more idea what a customers sig looks like than you
have mine. In both cases the hijackers had full names, DOB and NINo.
but nothing else, or they would have made a better job of it. It's easy
to imagine other similar attempts getting through simply because the
customers circs. are simpler and so the form doesn't ring alarm bells or
hard pressed staff not spotting inconsistancies. There is no doubt that
remote storage of files, teleclaims, internet claims and various other
efficiency drives or improvements in the accessibility of benefits have
made organised fraudsters hijacking NINos more likely, as in recent tax
credit scams.

The DWP/Gov.is prepared to accept (invite) a certain level of benefit
fraud in order to acheive efficiency savings and other agendas. If the
level of fraud rises to an unacceptable level (or the hue and cry is
loud enough!) procedures will be tightened up more visits, interviews
and checks will be undertaken to counter fraud, but that costs money.

Mike
 
M

Mike

Mike said:
Mike wrote:

True enough but a fax is neither a signed statement nor a call taken
after establishing the callers ID, they are the usual requirements for
reporting a change in circumstances. Guidance varies form benefit to
benefit and will almost certainly net mention faxes at all. The DWP
does not have scanned versions of a customers sig nor files to hand 99%
of the time, files are stored remotely and not retrieved as a matter of
routine.
A fax can bear a (facsimile of a) signature but, if you have nothing
to compare it with, it doesn't really matter. A fax leaves a slightly
better audit trail than a letter because there is a record of calls
made - not compelling evidence, I admit, but enough to point to where
to start looking. If someone were to attempt to hijack a claim, they
could write a letter, forge a signature and fax it to you. They could
then put the same document in an envelope and post it. IIUC, you
would ignore the faxed copy but action the posted one. I accept you
are only following orders (sorry, "guidance") but it seems a little
silly to me.
There are regular attemts to hijack benefit claims (I dealt with 2 last
month) and it's only by staff being alert to discrepancies that prevents
them.
Little discrepancies like a letter instead of the more usual fax? <g>
 
M

Mike

Mike said:
A fax can bear a (facsimile of a) signature but, if you have nothing to
compare it with, it doesn't really matter. A fax leaves a slightly
better audit trail than a letter because there is a record of calls made
- not compelling evidence, I admit, but enough to point to where to
start looking. If someone were to attempt to hijack a claim, they could
write a letter, forge a signature and fax it to you. They could then
put the same document in an envelope and post it. IIUC, you would
ignore the faxed copy but action the posted one. I accept you are only
following orders (sorry, "guidance") but it seems a little silly to me.
Ignoring a fax is not appropriate, as I said a faxed enquiry can for the
most part be dealt with but a report of a change of circs would need to
be followed up. Without guidance you have 10s of thousands of DWP staff
doing whatever they like.
Little discrepancies like a letter instead of the more usual fax? <g>
FAxes are far less common than letters in my experience. The
discrepancies I refr to are in the circumstances of the claim.

Mike
 
I

Iain

Mike said:
Other posters have highlighted the obvious issue that you sending a fax
far from proves it was received or was legible at the other end.

From a DWP perspective there is little guidance about when a fax can and
cannot be accepted. As a general rule I would not accepted a fax
purporting to come from a customer other than to confirm or to clarify
info already held. I would under no circumstances accept a faxed change
of address, bank details or anything that affected the rate of benefit as
I have no way at all to confirm it came from a customer or conversely, to
prove it came from a customer. Any fax providing such info would have to
be followed up in writing or by tel. Equally a claim to any benefit
cannot legally be made by fax, though you could ask for a form.

If you were enquiring about payments or requesting details of your
entitlement the DWP can certainly phone or write to the address already
held on their records.

Increasingly much of the DWP is starting to take info & claims for benefit
over the phone once the customers ID has been confirmed via security
questions. The information given does not have to be confirmed in writing
however bank balances etc have to verified via statements or other
documentation as now. There is I'm sure plenty of scope for fraud in this
(as with internet claims!) however the DWP is prepared to allow that for
the ease & cost savings involved.

Mike
Thanks - I appreciate your perspective. What you say can and cannot be
accepted by fax is interesting, and logical.

Whether I am unlucky, I don't know, but recently I have suffered from
failures in communications both to and from Belfast, as well as internal
communications. I agree, the phone is the most convenient medium.

Because of some incidents a few years ago I avoid using the phone and so
need to have all information in written form. Fax, from my point of view,
is the most accurate, convenient and cheapest way. Letters posted cannot be
guaranteed to arrive; likewise letters handed in cannot be guaranteed to
arrive. A letter written to me a few weeks ago didn't arrive either.

So I'm really at a loss how best to deal with this communications issue.

Iain
 
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M

Mike

Iain said:
Thanks - I appreciate your perspective. What you say can and cannot be
accepted by fax is interesting, and logical.

Whether I am unlucky, I don't know, but recently I have suffered from
failures in communications both to and from Belfast, as well as internal
communications. I agree, the phone is the most convenient medium.

Because of some incidents a few years ago I avoid using the phone and so
need to have all information in written form. Fax, from my point of view,
is the most accurate, convenient and cheapest way. Letters posted cannot be
guaranteed to arrive; likewise letters handed in cannot be guaranteed to
arrive. A letter written to me a few weeks ago didn't arrive either.

So I'm really at a loss how best to deal with this communications issue.

Iain
If you are enquiring as opposed to reporting a change e-mail via the DWP
website. If you are reporting a change you could send via recorded
delivery to have proof of receipt.

Mike
 
I

Iain

Mike said:
If you are enquiring as opposed to reporting a change e-mail via the DWP
website. If you are reporting a change you could send via recorded
delivery to have proof of receipt.
OK - thanks. The email is fine, so long as a copy would be sent to me as
well. Recorded delivery is also a possibility, but inconvenient. So I may
go for the fax and phone call.

Iain
 
M

Martin Davies

Iain said:
OK - thanks. The email is fine, so long as a copy would be sent to
me as well. Recorded delivery is also a possibility, but
inconvenient. So I may go for the fax and phone call.

Iain
Even recorded delivery doesn't guarantee something gets where its going or
arrives on the right person's desk.

Martin <><
 
M

Martin McGowan

Mike said:
Why are you more willing to accept a letter ("...followed up in
writing") than a fax? In neither case can you be sure of the origin.
Whats the point of writing?? i have an appeal going on because the
DWP failed to act on a letter, i have won one appeal on a similar
basis about the start of my claim. there is no apparent cast iron
system for the claimant proving they have informed DWP, unless you
video the interview with a named DWP contact and keep that. it is
crazy that when i have important letters to send to DWP i send them
recorded delivery as if i hand deliver them, the security man on
door says i have to put it in box by the door which is emptied once
per day. The lunatics seem to have taken over the asylum.
Martin McGowan
 
I

Iain

Martin McGowan said:
Whats the point of writing?? i have an appeal going on because the DWP
failed to act on a letter, i have won one appeal on a similar basis about
the start of my claim. there is no apparent cast iron system for the
claimant proving they have informed DWP, unless you video the interview
with a named DWP contact and keep that. it is crazy that when i have
important letters to send to DWP i send them recorded delivery as if i
hand deliver them, the security man on door says i have to put it in box
by the door which is emptied once per day. The lunatics seem to have taken
over the asylum.
Martin McGowan
It sounds like you are having similar problems to what I was having,
although mine were several years ago. You obviously realise the importance
of keeping keeping all correspondence.

Iain
 
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A

anthonyberet

Peter said:
. Equally a

Care to cite the exact law or regulation that says this?

Social Security Administration act 1992:
1. Entitlement to benefit dependent on claim. top of page

(1) Except in such cases as may be prescribed, and subject to the
following provisions of this section and to section 3 below, no person
shall be entitled to any benefit unless, in addition to any other
conditions relating to that benefit being satisfied-

(a) he makes a claim for it in the manner, and within the time,
prescribed in relation to that benefit by regulations under this Part of
this Act; or

(b) he is treated by virtue of such regulations as making a claim for it.


And...


The Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213

83. Time and manner in which claims are to be made

(1) Every claim shall be in writing and made on a properly completed
form approved for the purpose by the relevant authority or in such
written form as the relevant authority may accept as sufficient in the
circumstances of any particular case or class of cases having regard to
the sufficiency of the written information and evidence.


The sticking point for the making of claims by electronic means is the
need for an original signature. - The Verification Framework, which
gives guidance on what form of declaration is to be required by
compliant authorities requires a signature. It does not explicitly state
that it needs to be original, but I know of no authority which would
accept a faxed copy or electronic signature at the moment.
 
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A

anthonyberet

Iain said:
Thanks - I appreciate your perspective. What you say can and cannot be
accepted by fax is interesting, and logical.

Whether I am unlucky, I don't know, but recently I have suffered from
failures in communications both to and from Belfast, as well as internal
communications. I agree, the phone is the most convenient medium.

Because of some incidents a few years ago I avoid using the phone and so
need to have all information in written form. Fax, from my point of view,
is the most accurate, convenient and cheapest way. Letters posted cannot be
guaranteed to arrive; likewise letters handed in cannot be guaranteed to
arrive. A letter written to me a few weeks ago didn't arrive either.

So I'm really at a loss how best to deal with this communications issue.
I actually think email is better in some ways. If you want to present
evidence that one has been sent you can forward your copy from your sent
items folder with the header. This could actually be faked, but would
generally be accepted as evidence that it was sent. However, you can't
email anything which is a legal declaration (such as a new claim) or
answer to an enquiry, or any documentary evidence. It is good for making
enquiries of your own though.
The authority is unlikely to reply by email though.
 

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