There are many reasons you may want to record a call. Journalists find it to be a more accurate way to interview sources, and it allows you to focus on the conversation without having to look away to take notes. It eliminates the need for shorthand. It’s also incredibly convenient when you want a transcription of an interview or event.
That leads us to one important question to ask anytime you interview someone. “Is it OK to record this phone call?”
From a legal standpoint, the most important question when recording calls is consent. As a general rule of thumb, it’s also polite to make sure that all parties involved in a conversation are aware that it’s being recorded. This is not only the cordial thing to do, but it can help you earn trust with interview sources and avoid any awkward miscommunication down the road.
So, how can you know if getting permission is a nicety or if it’s regulated by law? You should start by researching the call recording laws state by state.
Unsure about your call recording rights? Here’s what you need to know about recording laws by state:
It’s OK to record conversations that take place in person or over the phone. In most states, only one party needs to give consent for recording. That person can be you, the interviewer, and you can legally hit the record button without letting the other person know what you’re doing.
Eleven states require two-party consent, however. In other words, everyone involved in a conversation must agree to be recorded. Those states are California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
(Don’t let the phrase “two-party” throw you. If there are five people on a call, it would technically require five permissions. The “two” in “two-party” implies everyone on the call knows what’s going on.)
More Information on Recording Laws by State
Federal and state laws that govern the recording of conversations aren’t always easy to understand. So, we’re here to help clear up any confusion you might have about your rights when it comes to recording conversations.
One-Party Consent or Two-Party Consent?
According to Wisconsin-based law firm Matthiesen Wickert & Lehrer, 38 states and the District of Columbia allow what’s known as “one-party consent” for recorded conversations, either in person or over the phone, while the other 11 states have what are considered two-party laws and actually mandate that all parties must give their permission before a conversation can be recorded.
In Vermont, state legislators haven’t enacted a consent law for recording conversations. Therefore, Vermont would be treated as a one-party state based on federal law.
If we are talking about state laws, why does federal law matter? Federal law requires one-party consent, enabling you to record a conversation in person or over the phone, but only if you are participating in the conversation. If you are not part of the conversation but you are recording it, then you are engaging in illegal eavesdropping or wiretapping.
Federal law has the strictest basis for phone call recording laws, with any state laws that are stricter being the standard for that state.
Different Recording Rules in the Different States
Adding to the patchwork quilt of recording laws is that in some states, consent kicks in only when those involved in a conversation have a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” according to legal website Justia.com. In other words, you expect privacy if, say, you’re inside your home and not in a public place like a coffee shop.
Moreover, how the consent is given isn’t the same everywhere. Some states require consent to be explicitly stated, Justia.com says, whereas other states are OK with consent only being implied.
State laws get even stickier when you dive into the details.
For instance, Nevada has a one-party consent law on the books, according to Justia.com, but the state Supreme Court has viewed it as an all-party consent law.
In Maryland, all parties must consent to recording conversations, whether in person or over the phone, Justia.com says, yet courts there have ruled that consent is restricted to cases when there’s a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”
Given the inconsistencies between state and federal laws, Justia.com recommends following the strictest call recording laws that apply to recording a conversation or getting permission from each party to record a conversation.
You’ll also avoid any misunderstanding if you’re honest about your recording practices, a perk that’s important when doing journalism, marketing, or other interview work.
Recording Interstate Conversations
Now, what happens if you’re in a state with one-party consent, like New Jersey, and recording a phone conversation, but the person on the other end of the phone is a state with two-party consent, like Pennsylvania?
“A good rule of thumb is that the law of the jurisdiction in which the recording device is located will apply,” Matthiesen Wickert & Lehrer says.
However, it can be difficult to determine whether federal or state laws govern a recorded phone conversation, according to Matthiesen Wickert & Lehrer, and whether, in the example above, the recording law in New Jersey or Pennsylvania prevails. Therefore, it’s wise to heed the common advice and follow the toughest phone call recording law or obtain consent from every participant in the call (or both).
“It is generally legal to record a conversation where all the parties to it consent,” Matthiesen Wickert & Lehrer says.
If participants in a phone conversation are in different states, then the odds of federal law applying to the situation go up, according to Matthiesen Wickert & Lehrer.
“However, when you and the person you are recording are both located in the same state, then you can rely with greater certainty on the law of that state,” the Digital Media Law Project says. “In some states, this will mean that you can record with the consent of one party to the communication. In others, you will still need to get everyone’s consent.”
Penalty for Violating Recording Laws
Now that we’ve established that it’s best to disclose your intentions and get everyone’s verbal permission to record, it’s unlikely that you will run afoul of the law. But what are the consequences if you break one of these laws, no matter whether it involves one-party or two-party consent?
As a general rule, you could be charged with a crime, slapped with a lawsuit, or both. In some cases, you could be charged with a more serious felony rather than a less serious misdemeanor. In many states, you could face jail time, fines, or both if you’re found guilty in a criminal court of violating consent laws.
If you’re ever in great doubt about the legality of recording a conversation, err on the side of caution and don’t record it. And if recording conversations is part of your everyday work, then it might be a good idea to consult an attorney to make sure you’re following federal and state consent laws.
Technology Can Help you Follow the Rules
While it used to be much easier to secretly record someone, today’s tech has actually made it more likely that everyone will follow the rules. Video conferencing software like Zoom requires everyone on the call to actively agree to the recording; they’ll hear an audible prompt and have to click the permission button before the call leader can start the recording.
Some phone apps will offer similar shortcuts. Before a call can be joined into conferencing, the people on the line may all have to dial a #1 or give a vocal “yes” in response to an automated prompt. At a minimum, call recording apps may give a prerecorded message at the beginning of the call letting attendees know that they are on a recorded line and giving them an opportunity to leave the call if they aren’t comfortable.
These tech tools reduce the chances that you’ll be caught illegally recording anyone, but it’s still wise to brush up on the laws for the locations you call most.
Etiquette Tips for Recording Conversations
Now you’ve got things squared away regarding phone call recording laws for consent. Let’s go over some etiquette tips for recording conversations. Aside from checking your state’s laws on consent and alerting all parties involved that you’re recording a conversation, here are seven etiquette recommendations. Following them will help you appear professional, get the details you want from your conversation, and build the relationships you need for future calls with the same people.
Be open and honest
In some states, you might be breaking the law if you’re recording secretly, even in a public place, according to the Digital Media Law Project.
“Whenever possible, make it clear to those around you that you are recording. Don’t hide your camera or tape recorder,” the project advises. “Being upfront puts people on notice that they are being recorded, affords them an opportunity to object, and undercuts any argument that you are acting secretly.”
It sounds simple, but if you’re “in charge” of a conversation that’s in person or over the phone and you’re recording it, then it’s your job to listen to what the other person or people are saying. After all, you’re recording the conversation to pick up information that you can refer to later.
Don’t check out and assume the recording will handle everything for you. It’s best to actively listen so you can ask relevant questions and be interested in what the callers have to say.
One of the worst things that can happen when you’re listening to a recorded conversation is that you’re not able to understand some or all of what was said. Therefore, you and everyone else engaged in the conversation should speak clearly. If you have to remind someone to speak clearly, then do so — politely. Slow down, pause between sentences, and spell out difficult to understand words, technical lingo, or foreign language words.
So, maybe you skipped lunch to hop on a phone call that’s being recorded. That doesn’t give you permission to noisily chomp on your PB&J sandwich and carrot sticks during the conversation. Wait till after the call to eat your lunch.
Another tip: Don’t chew gum during the conversation. It’s rude and distracting (and no one wants to hear it again on the recording).
Make sure everyone’s identified
If you’re chatting on the phone, especially during a conference call, everybody should identify himself or herself at the outset. Ask that they spell their last name for clarity.
Watch your tone
Again, if you’re on a phone call, be mindful of how you’re coming across. Your tone of voice can convey many messages — some of them not so positive.
“Do not sound overly anxious, aggressive, or pushy,” AdvancedEtiquette.com suggests. If you do need to interject, do so with tact. A simple, “Excuse me, but I need to quickly clarify what John said,” or something similar will do.
In the case of a recorded phone call, focus on the conversation and avoid multitasking. For example, AdvancedEtiquette.com suggests steering clear of distractions such as your computer, your paperwork, or your coworkers. Check your phone or earbud mic set up to be sure you don’t have it creating noisy feedback. You don’t want your phone to cause an annoyance for others.
Which Conversations Should Be Recorded?
Now that you’re up to speed on etiquette, what types of conversations should you be recording? Here are four examples.
If you’re a writer, it’s often wise to record interviews you’re conducting. This way, you can review the recording or transcript to double-check information or flesh out quotes if you were simultaneously taking notes. It’s also very useful for saving in your future story files. Many good ideas can come from past interviews that were preserved as transcripts.
Whatever line of business you’re in, it might make sense to record a meeting with a client. Afterward, you can listen to the recording or read the transcript to refresh your memory about key points. This can also provide confirmation that you’re following their directions, if they later claim that they wanted a different service or product from what you provided based on the phone meeting.
You might need an official record of the business conducted during a conference call, especially if any formal votes were taken. If there’s any doubt about what happened during the call, you can go back to the recording or transcript for verification.
During a long lecture at school, you might miss some of the most vital parts when you’re writing them down, especially if your hand cramps. Recording the lecture and listening to it later or poring over a transcript can help you recover information that’s not in your written notes.
Transcribing a Recorded Conversation
Once you’ve recorded a conversation, how do you transcribe it?
Well, you can do it the old-fashioned way by listening to the recording and then writing down or typing the conversation verbatim. That’s very tedious and time-consuming.
However, a number of digital tools are available to help speed up audio transcription. We recommend you give the Rev Call Recorder app a try. The app allows you to capture important phone conversations — at no charge — and then have the call transcribed for just $1.50 per audio minute. You did the hard work on phone call recording laws, now let Rev make it easy on transcription.
Eleven states require two-party consent, however. In other words, everyone involved in a conversation must agree to be recorded. Those states are California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington. (Don't let the phrase “two-party” throw you.Can your phone call be recorded without your consent? ›
In California, all parties to any confidential conversation must give their consent to be recorded. For calls occurring over cellular or cordless phones, all parties must consent before a person can record, regardless of confidentiality. Both civil and criminal penalties are available to victims of illegal recordings.What states are a one party consent state? ›
- Connecticut (for in-person conversations or phone calls recorded by a participant of the conversation)
- District of Columbia.
North Carolina makes it a crime to intercept or record any "wire, oral, or electronic communication" unless one party to the conversation consents. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-287.Can you record your boss yelling at you? ›
Under Federal law, it is legal to record a conversation as long as one-party gives consent to the recording. This is known as a “one-party” consent rule.Which states are two party consent states? ›
Eleven states require the consent of every party to a phone call or conversation in order to make the recording lawful. These "two-party consent" laws have been adopted in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.Do I have the right to listen to a call recording? ›
Under the right of access provision of the Data Protection Act 2018, any individual can request to hear and/or receive a copy of call recordings that they are involved in.What to do if someone is secretly recording you? ›
If you realize someone is recording you without your permission in a public setting, there isn't much you can do but ask them to stop or leave. If this is a recurring occurrence with a certain individual, you can call the police or choose to sue if you have legal grounds for it.Can I record a conversation if I feel threatened? ›
California is an all-party consent state. It is illegal to record a confidential conversation, including private conversations or telephone calls, without consent in California. A violation of this rule is the crime of eavesdropping, per Penal Code 632 PC.What is the difference between one-party consent and two party consent? ›
A two party consent state is a state where both parties to a conversation must consent to the recording of that conversation. This is in contrast to a one party consent state, where only one party to the conversation needs to consent to the recording.
Single party consent state, also known as one party consent state, can be defined as any state that allows an individual to record the conversation they take a part in without the other person's consent. The majority of states within the U.S. have single party consent laws.Can you record a phone call from one state to another? ›
Therefore, when recording a call with parties in multiple states, it is best to comply with the strictest laws that may apply or get the consent of all parties. It is generally legal to record a conversation where all the parties to it consent.What is the law on recording people in NC? ›
The general rule in North Carolina is that an individual who has the consent of one of the parties to either an in-person conversation or electronic communication can lawfully record it or disclose its contents. This assumes that both parties to the conversation are in North Carolina at the time of the recording.What is considered public record in NC? ›
Public records include both paper and electronic documents, emails, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics.Can you sue for invasion of privacy in NC? ›
North Carolina recognizes the specific tort of invasion of privacy by intrusion into seclusion. This type of invasion of privacy includes the intentional intrusion into the seclusion or solitude of another person or their private affairs or concerns, where a reasonable person would find the intrusion highly offensive.Do I have to tell someone I'm recording them? ›
Under California law, it is a crime punishable by fine and/or imprisonment to record a confidential conversation without the consent of all parties, or without a notification of the recording to the parties via an audible beep at specific intervals.Are you allowed to be voice recorded at work? ›
An employee must give their consent freely. And you should go through this consent process for each conversation you record—never presume that because someone consented to you recording conversation A, they'll automatically consent to the recording of conversations B, C, and so on in the future.Can you be fired for a private conversation? ›
Depending on the circumstances, you can indeed get fired for sending what you assume to be a private email or text.What state has the lowest consent law? ›
Most of the states start at the age of 16, However, Arizona, North Dakota, Oregon and Virginia states has minimum age of victim is 15. Federal law makes it criminal to engage in a sexual act with another person who is between the age of 12 and 16 if they are at least four years younger than you.Can I record a conversation with my boss? ›
California is a “two-party consent” state, which means that it can be illegal to secretly record conversations in person, over the phone, or through video chat if the other participant(s) also live in a “two-party consent” state. You would need the other party's consent and permission to legally record a conversation.
For incoming calls, you can go to Settings > Calls > Incoming Calls and then toggle the incoming calls record option. Once everyone is on the call, press the number four (4) on the keypad to start and end the recording. The call will end up in the record menu option after it ends.What are the rules for call recording? ›
As of now, there is no law or statute to voice and call recording of an individual's conversation which strictly prohibits such activities in India unless both parties to the conversation have consented to the call recording.How do I prove my voice recording in court? ›
The voice of the speaker must be duly identified by the maker of the record or by others who recognize his voice. In other words, it manifestly follows as a logical corollary that the first condition for the admissibility of such a statement is to identify the voice of the speaker.What is implied consent for call recording? ›
That the defendant did not have the consent of all parties to the conversation to record it - If the plaintiff remains silent or does not stop a conversation after being notified that they are being recorded, this may be considered to give rise to implied consent.What is it called when someone record you without your permission? ›
The law involved with recording is commonly called "wiretapping law," which covers all forms of electronic communication, including cellphones, emails, and cameras.Can someone lie about recording you? ›
It's almost always illegal to record a phone call or conversation if the recorder is not party to the conversation, does not have consent from at least one of the parties, and could not have reasonably been overheard.Can I sue someone for recording me without my permission in Texas? ›
Texas is considered a "one-party consent" state. This means that unless at least one of the parties to a conversation consents, both Texas and federal wiretapping laws make it a crime to record an audio conversation, either in person or over the phone, if the parties have a "reasonable expectation of privacy."Can I record a person harassing me? ›
California. California requires the consent of all parties, with a minimum consent being the notification that the parties are being recorded in a confidential conversation with an audible beep at particular intervals throughout the recording. Without permission, an individual can face imprisonment and fines.Can recording someone be considered harassment? ›
If they harass you in an open or shared workspace but when everyone else is gone, you can record them audio and video. If they harass you in meetings in public meeting spaces, you can record them.Can I record my wife yelling at me? ›
Unlike New York and New Jersey, California is a “two-party consent” state. This makes it illegal to record a private conversation unless all parties consent to the recording.
Types of consent include implied consent, express consent, informed consent and unanimous consent.Can police retrieve phone conversations? ›
Police officers cannot listen to your private conversations on your phone if you are an ordinary citizen unless they have a wiretap order. Though this does not apply to prisoners as they have fewer privacy rights. Calls made from inside the prison to the people outside are constantly monitored.Which states have consent laws? ›
|State||Age of consent||Age differential between the victim and defendant (if victim is above minimum age)|
|Arizona||18||2 (defendant must be in high school and < 19)|
|Arkansas||16||3 (if victim is < 14)|
On your Android device, open the Phone app . Call recording. Under 'Always record', turn on Numbers not in your contacts. Tap Always record.Can I record a conversation with my boss in Ohio? ›
Summary. An individual who is a party to an in-person, telephone or electronic conversation, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the conversation, can lawfully record it or disclose its contents, unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act. Ohio Rev.How can I record a phone call without the other person knowing? ›
On your Android device, open the Phone app . At the top right, tap More options Settings. Call recording. Under “Always record,” turn on Numbers not in your contacts.What states require two party consent for video recording? ›
The 16 states that require two-party consent are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington. Laws change constantly. Please check your state's current laws before engaging in recording.Is NC an ID state? ›
North Carolina does not have a stop and identify statute.
A person driving a motor vehicle must provide his or her license to an officer upon request. G.S. 20-29. But North Carolina has not adopted a statute like Utah's or Nevada's that applies to all investigative detentions.
- Connecticut (for in-person conversations or phone calls recorded by a participant of the conversation)
- District of Columbia.
Summary. An individual who is a party to an in-person, telephone, or electronic conversation, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the conversation, can lawfully record it. S.C. Code § 17-30-30.
Federal law (18 U.S.C. § 2511) requires one-party consent, which means you can record a phone call or conversation so long as you are a party to the conversation.Can I sue someone for recording me without my permission in Missouri? ›
In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the Missouri wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party. See Mo.Can I sue someone for recording me without my permission in Michigan? ›
Michigan does not permit just anyone to record conversations so long as they have the permission of any one person involved in the conversation. Only the participant themselves may record their own conversations with their own consent.Can anyone record a phone conversation? ›
Different states and countries have different laws, and in some of them only one party needs to consent to the call being recorded (which, yep, can be you). But, in other states, you need to ask permission from the other party (or every party in the case of a conference call) before you can record a phone call.Can I sue someone for recording me without my permission in Florida? ›
The other problem with recording somebody without their knowledge is that you can face civil penalties. You can actually be sued for damages. You can face punitive damages. You could have to pay attorney's fees and costs.Why is call recording banned? ›
Why did Google announce the ban? This is part of the tech giant's efforts to crack down on apps that use accessibility APIs for non-accessibility reasons. For third-party apps, accessibility APIs are the only way to record calls on Android.Can you legally record a phone call in Missouri? ›
Telephone and electronic communications. A person may record a telephone or other wire communication to which they are a participant or have consent of one of the parties to the communication, unless the recording is made “for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act.” Mo.Can you record someone without their knowledge Missouri? ›
In Missouri, it is illegal to intercept or record any “wire, oral, or electronic communication” unless at least one party to the conversation consents. Mo.