Sales reps are mostly on calls having conversations with the leads—doing discovery, demo, or pricing discussions.
Recording these calls is important to keep track of the conversations you have with your prospects. Every sales call has crucial information, like competitor mentions, questions asked, etc., that can help you gauge the deal’s path and the likelihood of it becoming a closed-won.
However, non-consensual call recording is a serious breach of privacy, which can invite penalties under the call recording laws enacted in different parts of the world.
These laws differ from one country to another. In the U.S. especially, the statutes concerning call recording vary from one state to another. So, how can you record calls lawfully without getting tangled up in legalities?
This blog will break down call recording laws worldwide by listing the laws in different countries—and states in the case of the U.S.—plus the simple things you can do to ensure compliance with these laws.
DISCLAIMER: This blog only intends to inform the readers using information available in the public domain about call recording laws. We urge you not to construe any details provided here as legal advice. For legal guidance on call recording matters, consult your attorney.
Is It Legal to Record Phone Calls?
Yes, call recording is legal if you comply with the laws of the respective geographic location and get the prospect’s consent.
And how bad can things get if you don’t get proper consent?
Wells Fargo Bank agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit over privacy violations that included recording consumers’ phone calls without informing them they were being recorded, as California’s state law required.
Another instance is when SuperCare, a leading respiratory care provider in the Western U.S., agreed to a $750,000 settlement following a class action lawsuit that accused the firm of recording consumer phone calls without getting their express consent.
Irrespective of whether the calls you recorded using your sales call recording software were video calls through video conferencing apps such as Zoom and Google Meet or audio calls using the phone or dialers, it all boils down to your prospect’s consent (more on this later).
Call Recording Laws in the United States
Call recording laws in the U.S. are a bit complicated as they involve federal and state laws based on different types of consent.
A survey on phone recording laws spanning all 50 states by Justia, an online legal information database, concludes that knowing which jurisdiction’s law controls in cases involving recording devices or parties in multiple states can be complex.
When in doubt, the survey suggests either following the strictest applicable law or getting the consent of all parties involved before recording calls.
Before we go any further, let’s understand the different types of consent that form the basis of these laws:
As per the law firm Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C., one-party consent means you can record any conversation if you’re a party to the conversation. In this case, a sales rep doesn’t have to inform the prospect that their call is being recorded as long as the rep knows it.
Federal laws, which include the Federal Communications Act of 1934, the Federal Wiretap Act, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, require one-party consent. These laws allow the recording of any electronic communication where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent.
One-Party Consent States
An overwhelming majority (72%) of the U.S. states are one-party consent states.
Out of the 50 states, 35 have passed call recording statutes that mandate one-party consent. In these states, only one person (usually the caller) must agree to record the call.
In the case of Vermont, there is no clear statute or definitive case law. However, it is generally considered to be a one-party consent state as federal law, which mandates one-party consent, might apply in case of any potential litigation.
The 36 one-party consent states are:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Simply put, two-party consent means both the caller and the callee must consent to the call being recorded. This is also known as all-party consent, in the sense that all parties to a conversation must give consent before the conversation can be recorded.
Two-Party Consent States
A total of 9 states have passed laws that mandate consent from all parties involved in a conversation.
In the case of Illinois, the situation is a little complicated. While its state law generally mandates two-party consent, it was amended in 2014 to term surreptitious recording as a criminal offense and allow the recording of conversations only in public places like courtrooms. For practical purposes, Illinois is still regarded as a two-party consent state.
The 10 two-party consent states are:
California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Mixed consent refers to instances where state laws require one-party consent for specific situations and two-party consent for others.
Mixed Consent States
According to Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C., there are 4 mixed consent states:
- Colorado: An individual not involved in or present during a communication must have the consent of at least one party to record an electronic or oral communication.
- Connecticut: To record a call in the state of Connecticut, you must ensure to:
- Get consent of all parties in writing before the recording;
- Include a verbal notification at the beginning of the recording, and
- Use an automatic tone warning during the call to indicate the call is being recorded.
However, for in-person conversations, only one person's consent is required across Connecticut.
- Nevada: Despite having a one-party consent state law, the Nevada Supreme Court has interpreted the law that an individual must have the consent of all parties to record a telephonic communication lawfully.
- Oregon: In Oregon, it’s not illegal to record and disclose electronic communication, provided you have the other party's consent. But, it is unlawful to record an in-person communication without the consent of all parties.
How to Record Inter-State Conversations?
As if these laws weren’t confusing enough, consider these scenarios:
- Which law should you follow if you’re from a one-party consent state who’s calling someone living in a two-party or mixed consent state?
- Which law would be applicable if several people from different states with different consent laws—say, 3 participants from California, New York, and Oregon—participate in the same call?
Since the laws aren’t too clear when it comes to recording inter-state conversations, it’s always better to play it safe by sticking to these ground rules:
- When recording a call with parties in multiple states, comply with the strictest laws that may apply—whether it’s one of the state laws or the federal laws.
- Always try to get the consent of everyone involved before recording any conversation. In general, it’s legal to record a conversation if you have the consent of all the parties.
International Call Recording Laws
After deep-diving into the call recording laws in the U.S., let’s chart into some international waters and see the call recording laws over there.
As per Canada’s Criminal Code, you can record any private conversation if you have the consent of any one of the two parties involved.
Another law to remember is the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which regulates how businesses handle personal information while recording calls in Canada.
According to PIPEDA, a business can record a call with its customer only after
- informing the customer that they are recording a call,
- clearly stating the purpose of the recording, and
- asking for their consent.
The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) govern call recording across all the nations in the European Union. According to Article 6 of GDPR, call recording is lawful only if the participant has consented to the recording and its processing.
The GDPR also provides the participants the right to erasure (or right to be forgotten) of the call recording data if they withdraw their consent or if they find out that the call was recorded without their consent in the first place. In this case, the controller is obligated by law to erase personal data without undue delay.
In the post-Brexit United Kingdom, the provisions of the EU’s GDPR have been incorporated into the nation’s law as the UK GDPR, according to its Information Commissioner’s Office.
So, the participant’s consent is mandatory for call recording and should be actively sought across the UK.
As per India’s Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, 2023, processing of personal data (which includes call recording) could be carried out only by obtaining the individual's consent. The participant must first be notified about the personal data to be collected and the purpose of processing. Participants may withdraw their consent at any point in time.
However, consent will not be required under the DPDP Act for “legitimate uses,” which include any “specified purpose for which data has been provided by an individual voluntarily.”
The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 explicitly prohibits interception of any communication without the knowledge of the person making the communication.
However, whether or not this applies to call recording is unclear because the above Act concerns interception and not consensual call recording. However, each state and territory has its own call recording laws in Australia, which could be either one-party or two-party consent.
According to South Africa’s Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act of 2002 (RICA), no person may record a conversation without consent.
The law allows the recording of any communication if you:
- are a party to the communication
- have received the written consent from one of the parties to the communication
- record for business-related purposes.
5 Best Practices to Record Calls Legally
The myriad laws on call recording can be pretty daunting to understand. But, if you look closely, they all operate on fundamental principles like consent and transparency.
So, we’ve put together these 5 tips that sales reps can follow while recording conversations. The first 3 concerns how to lawfully record conversations almost anywhere in the world, and the remaining 2 tips are about getting the best out of your call recordings:
1. Inform All Parties About Call Recording
The first step towards a safe call recording is to let everyone on the call know they’re being recorded. You can do this through a written message (an email or a note with the calendar invite) or an announcement (manual or automated) before the call.
Tell all your prospects on the other side of the line clearly that this call will be recorded and whether they'll be okay with it. If they don’t object, great. If they have any apprehensions, explain how you adhere to the call recording laws and the recording's purpose.
2. Specify the Intended Use of Call Recordings
Irrespective of whether prospects ask for it, mention why you are recording the call and how you plan to use it.
You could say that the call is being recorded for the purpose of training employees, quality assurance, or even general record keeping. This will give prospects the context for which they are being recorded and address any potential apprehensions they might have.
3. Maintain Transparency About Recording
Along with informing prospects that the call is being recorded and explaining its purpose, a sure-shot way of winning their trust is by giving them access to the recording.
When asking for their consent, inform them you will share the recording file after the conversation. This way, they can flag any objectionable content with you upon listening to the recording, and they'll come to trust you more.
On a similar note, podcaster Tim Ferriss notes how his guests would always have the final cut of the podcast audio before it is published. "This leads to extremely open, raw interviews and — paradoxically — fewer edits," he says.
4. Ensure Proper Identification of Call Participants
During calls, get all parties to identify themselves—with their full names and roles. This would make it helpful for call transcriptions, especially when more than 2 speakers are on the call.
5. Leverage the Mute Button
This is common sense, but it can be incredibly useful for call recordings. If you’re using a videoconferencing platform, remind everyone to mute themselves when they’re not speaking and unmute only if they have something to say. This reduces unnecessary background noises from the prospects’ side.
How Does Call IQ Ensure Compliance With Recording Laws?
Call IQ by Klenty is a conversation intelligence software that captures, transcribes, and analyzes every customer conversation. It summarizes what happened on the call, gets context from previous conversations faster, and identifies the key drivers that progress deals.
And it also ensures you stay compliant with call recording laws. Here’s how:
- The Call IQ bot can be turned off if you choose not to record the conversation. To do this, go to Home -> Upcoming Sessions -> and select ‘Inactive’ by clicking on the robot icon.
Once you get the prospect’s consent, you can select ‘Active’ here to reactivate the bot.
- Call IQ allows you to change the bot’s name in the settings section. Having a name like “Klenty Call Recorder” for your bot can make it clear to your prospects that the call is being recorded, which ensures transparency.
- In the settings section, you can also select which meetings the bot can join and record automatically. Should you choose not to record the meeting with your prospect, you can disable the bot for external meetings, irrespective of whether you’re the host or participant.
Besides these, Call IQ boasts many features that can improve your team’s sales interactions. These include generating the call transcription in less than 5 minutes, giving 4 different call summaries, and saving your call details to your CRM.
Book a demo now to give Call IQ a whirl.