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What Are Call Recording Laws in the United States?

What Are Call Recording Laws in the United States?

A brief overview of U.S. state and federal laws

One or two party consent

In the U.S. the individual states have different laws concerning telephone recording. These fall into two categories:

  • Two party notification, and
  • One party notification.

Two party notification means both parties being recorded in a conversation must consent. One party notification only requires one of the parties being recorded to consent. Consent is usually granted by a notification recording at the beginning of the call ("This Call May Be Recorded For Quality and Training Purposes"), or with an audible beep-tone. The California Supreme Court decision in Kearney v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., S124739 (July 13, 2006) showed that in a call from a One party consent state to a Two party consent state the Two party law takes precedence.

Which states have two party consent laws?

States with two party consent laws are California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. All other states have one party consent laws, but even if your company resides in a one party consent states, if it might make calls to two party consent states it should either provide notification to both parties or not record these calls.

Telephone recording in businesses

Federal law requires the notification of at least one party in a call (18 U.S.C. Sec. 2511(2)(d)). However there is a “business telephone” exception that allows employers to record calls on phones they provide to employees.

What is needed to get “consent?

The FCC defines the methods that can be used to obtain consent as:

  • Verbal or written consent given before the recording is made.
  • Verbal notification before the recording is made. (This is the most common)
  • An audible beep tone repeated at regular intervals during the course of the call.

Using recordings as legal evidence

One of the top uses of telephone recorders in business is to deter or protect against lawsuits. To do this the consent laws must be observed particular to the state called from and called to. Due to interpretation and exceptions particular to individual states the safest course of action is to get consent from both parties by giving verbal notification at the beginning of the call or having an audible beep tone.


The FCC on phone recording
RCFP information on recording
Wikipedia - Telephone Recording Laws

It is highly recommended you seek assistance from your legal adviser. This is only a brief overview of general state laws and not intended as legal counsel.

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Call Recording Industry Uses

  • Call Centers
  • Health Care
  • Financial
  • Public Safety
  • Government
  • Manufacturing
  • Security
  • Telecommunications
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