Despite the proliferation of the Internet, businesses and individuals still depend on fax machines to transmit handwritten, signed and otherwise non-electronic documents from one location to another. A fax can be sent from virtually anywhere, through the Internet or using a traditional fax machine. In order to receive a fax, though, you will want to have a dedicated fax number.
Determine what kind of fax number is appropriate for you
Thanks to a plethora of Internet faxing services, receipt of faxes now falls into one of three primary methods: receiving on a physical fax machine, receiving over the Internet or receiving in voicemail. If you plan to receive your faxes through your existing voicemail, you do not need a separate fax number as your voicemail will automatically detect incoming fax calls.
Decide if online faxing is right for you. Online faxing has a distinct advantage over physical fax machines: you can receive your faxes anytime and from anywhere in the world. In addition, many online fax services provide storage that allows you to keep your received faxes neatly stored. Unlike a fax machine, though, you can generally not send a fax from an online service without first converting a document to an image on your computer. If you do not need to send faxes frequently and want to receive them electronically, please procede to Section Two for steps to receive an online fax number.
Decide if a fax machine is right for you. Having a physical fax machine in your home or office can be quite convenient, especially if you send a faxes frequently. Your physical fax machine can print incoming faxes so that you have a physical copy of what you have received, making them ideal for record keeping and important documents. Unlike an online service, though, a fax machine may require occasional maintenance and periodic refills of ink or toner. If you have a physical fax machine and need a new fax line, please procede to Section Three for steps to receive a fax number for your physical fax machine.
Online fax services
Determine what type of online fax service is right for you. Receiving a fax online is now easier than ever, with a wide variety of online fax services competing for business. While many services charge a small amount to retain a fax number for a period of time, many on-demand services allow free use of a number and unlimited fax receipts. If you only want to receive a few faxes over a short period of time, a free fax service should be fine, though your new fax number may be in an area code different from your voice phone. If you want to maintain a professional, long-term online fax line with a local number, you may wish to pursue a paid service to ensure stability.
Get a free fax number. If you decide to sign up for a free fax number, this service is available from a variety of providers such as FaxDigits.com. To sign up for a free account, just visit www.FaxDigits.com and click "Sign Up for Free Service." After completing some basic information such as your name and address, the service will send your new, free number directly to your email box.
Get a paid fax number. For longer-term solutions, paid online fax services such as eFax are both popular and stable. To acquire a paid number, simply visit www.EFax.com, click "Fax Number," enter your ZIP code and click "Go." If you are in a large metropolitan area, the website will ask you to select your area code; otherwise, you will be prompted for some basic identifying information. After completing this information (and, of course, providing your billing credit card number), the system will deliver your new local fax number to your email box.
For physical fax machines
In order to send and receive faxes, your fax machine will need to be connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). In order to get this connectivity, and your fax number, you will need to have a line installed by your local telephone service provider.
Contact your phone company. Different local telephone companies have different methods for contacting them. In many locales, the company can be quickly and easily reached by simply dialing "6-1-1" from your landline telephone. Other companies, such as EMBARQ and VoIP provide Vonage, require dialing a toll-free number in order to reach their business office. If dialing 611 from your telephone does not connect you with your local telephone company's business office, you can find the number in your local telephone book.
Request new service. When you reach a representative with your local telephone company, you will want to request a new telephone line for your fax machine. If your account with the telephone provider is a business account, you may be asked to provide some account information to verify that you are authorized to place orders on behalf of your company. If you are installing a fax line in your home, you may be asked some personal verification questions to ensure you are actually who you say you are. While this process may seem frustrating, remember that these representatives are in a call center, sometimes hundreds of miles away, and can not physically see you or know who you are.
Request only fax service. Once the telephone company representative has verified your identity, she may try to recommend additional features for your new line. Many telephone company representatives are on a sales quota and will repeatedly try to "upsell" services on your new fax line. Since most of these services are not recognized by your fax machine and can, in fact, interrupt your fax transmission, be sure the representative knows that you will be using the line for a fax machine and do not require any additional services.
Receive your fax number. Once the representative has taken your order, she will supply you with your new fax number which you can then add to business cards, marketing material or other documents. Since the telephone company must physically connect the line, it may take a few days before your service is fully activated and ready for use.
Receiving your faxes on a physical fax machine has both advantages and disadvantages when compared with receiving faxes online. While connecting a physical fax machine to the telephone network ensures you will receive your faxes across an established, long-term fax line and can send faxes across that same line, it also means that you can not retrieve your faxes online if, for example, you are away from your home or office. An online fax service may also allow you to neatly retain your received faxes without worrying about physical copies. Before subscribing to a fax service, you should carefully evaluate which fax option is right for you. Some people even elect to have both a physical fax machine and an online service.