Measures to combat junk faxes are to be announced within weeks, as complaints hit almost one a minute each working day. They follow a government study that found Hongkong Telecom had received 185,000 junk-fax complaints in the two years to June 1997. One company that had 3,098 complaints against it in two years received 13 Telecom warning letters but was not cut off. Simon Chan Yuk-keung, chairman of the Hong Kong Telecommunications Users Group, said this was an 'extremely serious problem', particularly for small businesses, which could have their only fax tied up with unwanted adverts. A consultation paper to be issued by the Office of the Telecommunications Authority will suggest tactics to combat junk faxers - including legislation making it illegal to send a fax without a return address. Other options include establishing a database of people wanting to opt out of advertising faxes, and closing loopholes in Telecom client codes of conduct. Acting director of telecommunications Au Man-ho said legislation was a last resort because 'the definition of a junk fax could be quite blurred and it could have some undesirable restrictions on freedom of communication'. Hongkong Telecom can now trace junk faxers who do not put their number on documents, and those attracting enough complaints can be disconnected. Telecom could not say how many complaints were needed. However, junk faxers can change their number for $50, or can change to one of the three new telecommunications firms. Just 33 senders accounted for nearly 30 per cent of complaints, leading to speculation some companies were offering a commercial junk-fax service. Most junk faxes only give a pager number. Ironically, many advertise fax paper. The Telecom hotline for complaints is 12022, or fax 2824-0999.