Businesses use call recording for many reasons, such as improving business practices and customer service, protecting themselves from complaints and litigation and gathering evidence of transactions and correspondence. If your business is considering using call recording devices and technology, it's very important to stay on the right side of the law. You need to understand your responsibilities under the law and ensure that both your business and your customers are protected. This all starts with the vital question - do you need to tell callers that you’ are recording their call?

Here are the vital points to consider:

  • Will you be releasing or sharing the recording with a third party? If so, then you definitely do need to let callers know that you are recording, and give an explanation for the need to do so. For example, if you are conducting market research or monitoring the recordings for training purposes. Crucially, as well as informing callers – you also need to get their consent.
  • Times when you don’t need to inform callers that you are recording. If you are recording calls for any of the following reasons, then you are under no obligation to inform callers – ensuring that your business complies with regulatory procedures, providing evidence of a business transaction or ensuring that quality targets or standards are being met in the interests of national security. Other exceptions include preventing or detecting crimes committed through the unauthorised use of a telecoms system, and securing the effective operative of the telecom system.  
  • There are different ways to keep callers informed. In most cases, businesses simply use a pre-recorded message to inform anyone calling in that calls may be recorded – this is a very simple way to do it. However, there are other ways too. For example, if there is a specific number that you are advertising and inviting people to call in (such as a helpline, for example) then you can inform customers that calls may be recorded through the advert. You can also include a line in your terms and conditions, on your website and in other literature.  
  • How long do you need to keep recordings for? The rules on this are unclear and in many cases is industry dependent. For example, in the financial services industry, you must keep recorded calls for any time between 6 months and 3 years, just in case you need to deliver recordings in a legal case or for auditing purposes. If you fail to deliver, you could end up facing litigation and damages costs.
  • Ethical issues. If you are considering recording calls, why you will be doing so is very important. If you are trying to improve customer service or business practices, there are no ethical issues involved. However, if you are planning to use call recording to gain an unfair advantage on your competitors or to sell data from recorded calls to a third party (this is illegal as well as unethical) then there will always be ethical and moral ramifications to consider.

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