In California, it is illegal to record phone calls without the consent of all parties involved.

However, when you call corporate phone number, you often get a message to the effect of "For quality assurance reasons, this call is being recorded."

Isn't this illegal, if you are calling from California? What can be done to prevent the company from recording (other than hanging up - let's assume there's a reason you needed to call them)?

  • 2
    If you believe this question has already been answered here, you are welcome to flag it as a duplicate. That you appear to have zero possible duplicate options to present, would indicate that in fact it has not been "answered ad nauseam" as you claim.
    – user4657
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 6:19
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    For example, you have paid for an insurance policy or warranty, and the only way to make a claim is to phone them. Commented May 30, 2019 at 6:29
  • I wonder if this gives you the right to record the call as well.
    – Matt
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 21:23
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    @Matt As long as you state you're doing so (or know for sure that all parties are in single-party consent states,) then sure.
    – reirab
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 22:00
  • As long as you aren't saying anything incriminating or giving out personal information, there's almost no reason to worry about stuff like this.
    – Malekai
    Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 14:54

3 Answers 3


The recording is not illegal because you've been told it would happen, and by not hanging up, you've agreed to have a conversation that can be recorded.

This was determined in Kearney v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc. applying the exception of Penal Code 632 that communications are not considered confidential if there is a reasonable expectation that the call will be overheard or recorded - being explicitly told that the call will be recorded makes this true.

It would not be illegal for them to only record their own statements during the call, nor for you to record only your statements, either. In particular, the company is allowed to record the part of the call where they make this statement, as they are not recording a conversation, only their own (likely pre-recorded) statement (again?). Indeed, including their statement about the recording in the recording is common practise partly for protection against claims that the other party was not informed of the recording occurring.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 14:39

No, it’s not illegal

You have been informed that the call will be recorded. If you continue with the call having that knowledge you have consented to the recording. If you don’t consent you can hang up.

If you need to communicate with them and don’t want to be recorded, do it in writing or in person.

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    Isn't writing also subject to being recorded?
    – Consis
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 23:25
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    @Consis if you mean recorded in the sense of creating a record then yes. But that is not the same as an audio recording of people speaking - your letter or email is unlikely to record you flying off the handle in rage. Also, there is no law against your telephone partner taking notes and, if they know shorthand, those notes could be verbatim.
    – Dale M
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 23:43
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    @Consis In particular, there is no right to communicate with someone without them recording what you say, but rather only that they can't record a private conversation without your knowledge. As Nij's answer notes, the law itself explicitly excludes from protection any circumstance wherein the parties to the communication may reasonable expect the communication could be overheard or recorded. Explicitly telling you that it may be recorded would certainly create such an excluded circumstance.
    – reirab
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 9:09
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    "consent" seems overly strong. For example, if I state "by continuing to read this comment, you agree to sell me your home for 1 dollar US. If you read this sentence, obviously you already consented to the previous agreement." I'm not certain any "consent" is required here. And if not, and simply placing an ultimatum in a sentence is enough for other people to consent to arbitrary deals, I gotta find a bunch of US dollars and collect my houses!
    – Yakk
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 16:04
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    @Yakk You are conflating consent with agreement. In the first case, we are talking about consent that is a legal requirement for an action to not be illegal. The consenter is not giving up any consideration. In the second case you are attempting to form a contract, which means the other rules of contract also apply and this contract would fail for lack of intention. It's obvious I have no intention to enter into a contract with you by reading your comment. In any case I don't think any judge would accept merely reading an offer as a mode of acceptance, regardless of your wording.
    – JBentley
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 21:16

If they began recording your statements before informing you of the call being recorded, then you could argue that part of your conversation was recorded without consent.

Informing you that the call is being recorded implies consent if you proceed with the call.

If they began recording the conversation at the moment right before informing of you of recording, then this is likely a legal implementation of recording a phone call.

However, if you were to have spoken simultaneously during their statement that the call is being recorded and that was recorded, you could argue that you did not grant consent to them recording that statement. Also, because you interrupted their statement that the call is being recorded, you could argue that you did not grant consent because you were speaking while being issued this statement, which implies that you did not properly receive their statement its in entirety.

Basically, it's probably completely fine that they are recording these phone calls when stating that they are doing so. However, there are ways to argue against it if you ever had to in a court of law.

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