Autofax is the automatic (computer-initiated) sending of a facsimile (fax) message over a network in one of two ways: (1) to a receiving computer or fax machine that is always ready to receive and store or immediately print such transmissions or (2), in some cases, as an e-mail note.
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In the banking industry, autofax allows detailed statements to be sent to account holders on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, or at any other interval the account holder might specify. The process does not require any action on the part of the account holder, other than to ensure that a fax machine, or a computer equipped with a fax program, is continuously online. The messages are transmitted by the bank with computer fax programs. This service can also be used for invoicing purposes, and for sending general reminders and newsletters on a periodic basis.
E-mail autofax services allow small fax messages to be received as e-mail (if only plain text is involved) or as e-mail attachments (if images are involved). The user can select the file format if image attachments are used; the most common are TIFF and JPEG. Some e-mail fax services allow the transmission, as well as reception, of fax messages by the e-mail subscriber. This is done by uploading a text or image file to the service provider, who then sends the file to the ultimate destination as a fax message.
Some e-mail autofax services send e-mail messages to dedicated fax machines. This option is useful for people who don't have a computer that is continuously online to receive e-mail. It can also be useful for people in remote locations where a fax machine is available but a computer is not.