Call Recording Regulation – How It Works at State Level

cms call recording requirements

So you want to learn about call recording? We’re going to explain what the differing state laws mean for gathering consent to record calls and how you can ensure your business is both compliant and efficient in gathering and storing the correct information.

What is Call Recording?

Capturing a voice conversation over a phone or virtual call is known as call recording. It is possible to record conversations or conference calls, which can then be saved as a digital file and later transcribed or listened to.

Why Is Call Recording So Important?

Call recording has many uses and for a business, it is essential to know exactly what your recordings can be used for and what the regulations are surrounding their use.

Ignoring call recording regulations can be extremely costly. Whether intentional or not, ignoring privacy laws can have serious consequences. Failure to comply can lead to you being charged or receiving a lawsuit. Of course, state laws vary when it comes to recording calls, but many states can deal out fines and even jail sentences for failed compliance.

For this reason, it’s important that you understand exactly what can and can’t be recorded and which laws apply in your state and any states that you make calls to.

Call Recording as Internal Evidence

Many businesses use call recording for internal evidence. When there are customer complaints or investigations needed, call recordings provide clear evidence of events.

Storing these files can provide peace of mind for businesses and mean that less general monitoring is needed.

Call Recording as Legal Evidence

On top of internal maintenance, recording calls can act as a deterrent to protect the business from lawsuits. Of course, for any call recordings to have any legal impact, they must be recorded with the laws of the state in mind.

There are many different interpretations of the law when it comes to communication and recordings in different states so it is often recommended to err on the side of caution when it comes to compliance.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance is a big reason why businesses choose to record conversations between employees and customers or suppliers. When an employee knows there are copies of their calls, they are more likely to be conscious of their wording and ensure that any language is representative of the company’s culture and ethos.

Call Recording and Training

It is extremely common for businesses to record calls for training purposes. New staff require training and recording calls can allow leadership and trainers to monitor calls and offer advice and input.

This helps to ensure that the brand’s vision is properly reflected by both new and existing staff members, and it helps sales and support teams find more efficient ways to help customers find a resolution.

Call Recording by State

Call Recording by State

Call Recording Regulations

US federal law requires at least one party in a call to be notified of the recording. There is a business phone exception to this ruling that allows employers to record calls on phones they provide to employees.

Notification or consent can be obtained in a couple of ways, and the best method of obtaining permissions might rest on which state you are operating from.

The FCC outlines the methods through which proper consent can be obtained.

  • Prior written or verbal authorization is obtained before recording.
  • Prior verbal warning before recording is done
  • An audible beep tone that is repeated at regular intervals throughout the call (this is the most common option)

State Laws on Call Recording

Both federal and state laws on call recording can be quite complex because of the variety of exceptions and specific legislations that vary from state to state.

One thing to be aware of is where these legislations actually come into play. In some states, like Maryland, protections only count if you would expect to have a reasonable level of privacy, like in your own home, for example. Privacy laws in public places can be very different.

Different states also have varying rules on what constitutes consent of an involved party and how that consent can be captured. Some states require consent to be explicitly given, whilst others require just implied consent.

It is recommended that businesses err on the side of caution when it comes to obtaining consent because of how different federal and state laws can be on the topic. Not only will this give you more legal protection but it can also help to avoid confusion for both employees and customers.

Recording Interstate Conversations

What happens if you are in a one-party consent state but the other party is in a two-party consent state? Well, this is where confusion often arises (and why it’s recommended that you take extra caution).

Typically, the ruling applies to the location of the recording device. This means that if you, as the recorder, are in a one-party consent state then your state laws will apply.

This gets more complex in places where it’s not clear whether federal or state law applies. Typically, when all parties consent, a recording is legal but the odds of federal law application will go up where there are multiple states with differing state laws involved.

One-Party Consent or Two-Party Consent?

We’ve spoken a lot about the differences between one-party and two-party consent states, but what does that mean in practice?

One-party consent is more popular at a state level but for any business making external calls, it’s important to understand also the laws in other states where the other parties may be located.

Some states, like Vermont, also haven’t specified state-level laws so are classed as one-party consent states by default because of existing federal laws.

One-party consent relies on approval from a party involved in a conversation. It is not permitted to record conversations either over the phone or in person that you are not involved in and do not have permission to record. This is wiretapping and can have significant legal repercussions.

Two Party Consent States

States that require two-party or all-party consent for recording include:

  • California
  • Connecticut (For electronic recordings)
  • Florida
  • Hawaii (Only requires two-party consent if the recording device is in a private place)[
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon (Two-party consent needed for in-person conversations only)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

There are some exceptions on this list where laws only apply to specific legal scenarios and not all conversations. It is always best to check on specific scenarios for your state to ensure recordings can be used for their intended purpose if obtained in particular ways.

One Party Consent States

Not all states require all-party consent. Here are the states that only require the notification of one party:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut (For in-person conversations)
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois (For electronic conversations or to record law enforcement officers in public places)
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon (For electronic communication only)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin (Must be two-party if it’s to be used for legal purposes)

Call Recording Solutions for Business

Of course, for businesses, it is extremely important to adhere to both state and federal laws. When it comes to call recording, the ones you should prioritize are determined by whether you make calls within your own state and whether it is easy to gather consent from your customers.

Many businesses will gather two-party consent by default. Being overly cautious when it comes to privacy laws can save costly problems and lawsuits and relieve a lot of pressure on both internal teams and leadership.

There are many solutions that make regulated call monitoring possible and simple for businesses.

Mobile2crm is a solution that helps businesses tobtain a complete view of interactions with customers without compromising when it comes to privacy. It both complies with regulatory demands and ensures that rulings are clearly followed so that staff can focus on providing great solutions to customers.

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Ron Barak

VP Business Development

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