California has some pretty strict privacy laws. As one of only a dozen states with two-party consent laws, we are among the most restrictive states when it comes to recording phone conversations. In many cases, this works to protect you when a debt collector calls. However, there are times when you may want to record the phone call as evidence of harassment. Let’s take a look at the dos and don’ts of recording debt collection conversations.
If a Debt Collector Wants to Record You
There are many reasons a debt collector will want to record his conversation with you. In fact, he will probably be required to do so by his employer to protect them from accusations of harassment. He may also be hoping to catch you taking responsibility for the debt he is collecting. Whatever his reasons, however, he must get your permission before he can record the call. This is usually accomplished with a recorded voice saying, “This call may be recorded for quality purposes.” It doesn’t occur to most of us to deny permission, but you are perfectly within your rights to do so. If you find out later that a debt collector recorded a call without your permission, you may be owed damages of up to $5,000.
Why & How You Should Record a Debt Collector
It is illegal for debt collectors to harass you over the phone. In an earlier blog post, I discussed what constitutes harassment and how you can sue for damages if you are harassed by a debt collector. The best evidence of harassment, of course, would be a recording of the phone calls you are getting from the debt collector. However, as we’ve just learned, you cannot do this in California unless you get permission first. Rather than making a big deal out of it—“Can I record this call?”—you could try turning their tactics back on them and simply state, “I am going to record this call.” They may hang up, but if they don’t, you’ll have a legal recording that can be used as evidence in a debt collection harassment case.
Smart Phones Make it Easy to Record Conversations
There are a variety of apps available for both iPhones and Android phones to record incoming and outgoing phone calls, many of them free. Rev Audio and Voice Recorder is a free option for both types of phone. Automatic Call Recorder is another free option which also allows you to choose a setting that will record all incoming calls or just a certain type of call that you choose. Remember, though, whichever app you choose, in California, you will have to remember to notify the caller that you are recording the call.
Helping You Hold Debt Collectors Accountable
If you think a debt collector recorded your phone conversation without your permission and used it against you, you may have a privacy violation case. You may also already have a case for debt collection harassment and not even know it. Your (legally obtained) phone call recordings may literally be worth money. It doesn't cost you anything for me to review your case, and nothing down for me to take it. Every case is different, but a lot of times I can make your debt go away and get you compensated! Contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 to find out if I can help.