The Legality of Call Recording - A Quick Guide

    Are Your Calls Legal?

    Recording business telephone calls is a great idea, especially calls with customers. Call recording gives you the opportunity to capture relevant information for training and coaching, or to document any disputes. It’s also now easier than ever on a number of programs and apps. For example, ShoreTel Sky’s Hosted Call Recording offers recording software that gives subscribers the ability to record phone calls and retrieve them through a web interface. It’s as easy as pushing a button on your telephone.

    However, recording phone calls without knowing the law can land you and your company in trouble. Here are some things you need to know to make sure any recorded phone conversations are on the right side of the law.

    Consent, Consent, Consent.

    The Federal Government has a set of rules for call recording, as does each state. The FCC also has its own regulations for call recording. It can get confusing and complicated with all the legal jargon. One thing is clear however, the deciding factor for all three organizations in determining whether a call recording is legal comes down to one word – consent.

    The Federal Government requires only one person (one-party) in a recorded conversation to give consent. State laws are more detailed and are described as “one-party” or “all-party” states. There are currently 12 states that require everyone on a recorded call to give consent. For a list of those and information on recorded interstate and international calls you can download our eBook.

    Consent can be given by verbal notification. Usually it’s in the form of a pre-recorded message at the beginning of a call. They are often used when calling a call center and sounds something like, “This call is being recorded for quality and training purposes.” Consent is also obtained through intermittent beeps. These specific beeps must be heard throughout the phone call and must go off every 15 minutes.

    What’s ‘On The Line?’

    In most cases you may record, film, broadcast or amplify any conversation when consent is given. If you are thinking about pressing the record button make sure you follow Federal, State and FCC regulations.

    Here are some situations where you may want to put the recorder down:

    • Criminal Purpose: Recording a conversation in the furtherance of a crime is illegal.

    • Trespass: A person whose conversation is secretly recorded can sue for trespass and intrusion. The use of hidden recorders is covered by wiretap and eavesdropping law.

    • Expectations of Privacy: A person can sue if they have a reasonable expectation of how the recording will be used. For example saying you will use a recorded conversation for training but use it instead for marketing purposes.

    We hope this brief introduction to call recording laws has helped you better understand your rights and obligations. Most important to remember when recording phone calls is consent is needed from at least one party in the conversation, sometimes consent is needed from all parties. Also important to remember is the person recording the phone conversation must be a party to the conversation.

    If you’d like more information on your on the subject download this eBook from ShoreTel Sky.

    The eBook and the information contained on this website is offered only for general informational and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinions. This eBook and the website in which it resides contains many pages of hyperlinks to other resources on the Internet. These links are provided as citations and aids to help you identify and locate other Internet resources that may be of interest, and are not intended to state or imply that ShoreTel sponsors, is affiliated or associated with, or is legally authorized to use any trade name, registered trademark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol that may be reflected in the links.

    As a writer I find call recordings help me keep track of information I may have forgotten to jot down during a call. How often do you record phone calls with clients/customers? For what purposes? Let us know in the comments box below.