Can I record a phone call?

Can I record a call? It depends. If you are not a party to the call, then the answer is “no,” unless you’ve obtained consent from one or both parties to the call, or have a valid warrant.

If you are a party to the call, then the answer is “it depends.” If you are in North Carolina and calling another person in North Carolina, then you can tape the call without letting the other person know. That’s because North Carolina is a one-party state. One party must know about the taping. That’s you. The other party does not.

However, if you are calling a person who is in a “two-party” state, then the “two-party” rule operates, and you must inform the person that you are taping the phone call.

As of April, 2010, two party states are:

New Hampshire

It’s important to note that you may never – except in certain specific circumstances where you have a search warrant or consent of one party – tape a phone call where you are not a party to the call.  Such recordation will, if detected, run afoul of eavesdropping laws and/or wiretapping laws and may get you into serious legal difficulty

What if you’ve called a company that informs you that “this call is being monitored for quality assurance purposes.”  Are you permitted to also tape that phone call even if you don’t tell the other party?  The general answer is “Yes,” and that’s because the company has waived any expectation of privacy it may have in the phone call and therefore can’t expect you not to tape the phone call.

You should be aware that these laws change from time-to-time, and so check the laws in your specific state before relying on any information in this article as it does not constitute legal advice.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.