Is it Legal to Record Phone Calls?
I get bad customer service from companies time and again over the phone, and I’d like to record these calls so I have proof. I’ve also heard this might be illegal—are there any legal problems associated with this?
That’s actually a great question, and one we’ve heard several times. In fact, Lifehacker reader luckycharms just shared a tip that pretty exhaustively answers this question, so here’s the answer (with a tip of the hat to luckycharms).
In general, it is legal in most states to record a telephone conversation if you are part of that conversation, or at least one member of the conversation has given consent (protecting the conversation from being recorded secretly by an outside party). Specifically, in these states, you may record any phone conversation without getting the other person’s consent.
However, a few states that require all parties involved to consent before recording a call. These 15 states include:
- New Hampshire
- Washington state
*Delaware’s laws are a bit conflicted—hit the link at the bottom to read the specific precedents. Similarly, Vermont doesn’t have any specific laws. In these cases we’d recommend you err on the side of caution and obtain consent from the other party.
In addition, make sure you know in which state the other party resides, because you’ll probably be subject to the stricter state’s laws—so if you live in New York, which only requires one party’s consent, but you’re talking to someone in California, which requires two—you will likely need to get the other party’s consent.
While this is a very simple outline of the rules, we recommend you check the state-by-state details at the link below. (Note: We’re not lawyers. If you want a truly definitive answer, ask a lawyer in your state.)
Can We Tape? [The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press]