The purpose of this guide is a research of different state laws
regarding recording telephone conversation. The guide addresses
legal issues of taping in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.
In the US there are both federal and state statutes governing the
use of electronic recording equipment. The unlawful use of such
equipment can give rise not only to a civil suit by the "injured"
party, but also criminal prosecution. Although most of the statutes
address wiretapping and eavesdropping - listening in on
conversations of others without their knowledge - they usually apply
to electronic recording of any conversations, including telephone
Why Record Telephone Calls?
There can be a plenty of reasons why a company may need to record
telephone conversations. For example:
Agent Training: It is often helpful to have the person
answering your telephone calls hear their own voice and listen to
how callers hear them. This will help them improve their call
Quality Assurance: Call handling can be monitored on a
monthly or bi-monthly basis to see where improvements are needed.
Quality Control: Call confirmation and "he said/she said"
Security/Liability: A recording of a conversation can be
priceless if your business were to ever end up in court. Being
accountable to your clients can help your business earn the respect
of your customers.
A large number of organizations undertake monitoring of call. As
suggested above, the purpose of this is to enable the company
managers to gather information about the way in which the customer
service representatives are "handling" the customer ("Quality
Control"). This is then used as an assessment of the customer
service representative's performance as part of the ongoing
education and training of the customer service representative. The
monitoring can be done by means of "double jacking" at the point
where the customer service representative is sitting or
alternatively can be done at another point so that neither the
customer nor the customer service representative knows that the
monitoring is taking place. In either case, the customer is unaware
that monitoring is taking place, which may be illegal in many
Generally, it is legal to record any conversation where all the
parties to it consent (one party consent if all parties are in a
state with corresponding law). The U.S. federal law only requires
one-party consent to the recording of a telephone conversation, but
explicitly does not protect the taping if it is done for a criminal
or tortuous purpose. Many states have similar exceptions.
The following phrases may be used to request person's consent:
"For training purposes and your own security your call may be
monitored and recorded."
"In order to ensure excellent customer service, your call may be
monitored or recorded."
"Thank you for calling America Online. To insure the highest
level of customer service, this call may be monitored and recorded."
"All Blue HealthLine calls are completely confidential. However,
your call may be monitored and recorded to insure quality of
As we see here, the quotes (taken from real life telephone
operators) reflect and disclose pretty honestly a purpose of
recording a call.