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Can I record a phone conversation?


WhiteTruckMan

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I'm having trouble with a neighboring council (Burnley Borough Council) using baliffs to pursue a council tax debt of somebody with a similar name to me. The other person has an address in burnley, but the council has somehow found my address, stuck the other persons name on it, then passed it on to debt recovery agents i.e. baliffs to pursue. I've contacted the baliffs by phone, and in a recorded conversation which they agreed to, have notified them that this person does not and never has lived here, and that any further letters will be returned with a bill for £25 handling. They informend me that my address was provided by BBC.

Now here's where it gets interesting. I've contacted BBC debt recovery department by phone, and the first thing that you hear is a recorded message that calls my be recorded for monitoring and training purposes. However when I get through to an operator and I inform them that I am recording the call as well, they refuse to discuss anything. So do I have to disclose the fact that I am recording a call, as anything said may be a basis for a formal complaint?

WTM

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Graham*

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It's a Panasonic

Maybe you can find the latest equivalent.

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Forum Editor

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Flak999

There's a lot of sense in your argument, and that's precisely why the whole business of recording phone calls is a tricky legal area. One principal behind the current attitude is that an individual should reasonably expect that a phone conversation with another individual will be a private affair, the content of which will be known only to the two of them, unless one of them tells the other that it is all being recorded.

Knowledge of a recording can inhibit one of the parties,making the conversation less personal, and to some extent less meaningful.

A business call is somewhat different, and in that circumstance it has become a common practice for calls to be recorded, both to provide a record of any agreements made, and to prevent the call being used to abuse the other person - something that can be a real problem for people who work in call centres, etc. It's an offence to abuse people in the course of a call, and the recording ensures that a) there is a deterrent effect and b) that there's a record of the abuse, if it occurs.

Private individuals may decide to record calls if they wish, but if they do so without notifying the other party that it's being done they cannot automatically assume that their recording will be admitted as evidence in any subsequent court action. It might, if a judge agrees, but there can be no assumption of it.

I ought to add that the one situation in which all calls are automatically recorded without the caller's consent is calls made to the Police, Fire, and Ambulance services. All 999 calls are recorded.

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WhiteTruckMan

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FE

But to come round full circle, I find it galling that organisations (not private individuals) automatically and routinely record calls, yet will not co-operate when you request the very same privilige.

WTM

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Forum Editor

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"...will not co-operate when you request the very same privilige"

a) You have the right to request a copy of the recording.

b) You don't have to tell them you are also recording - you just can't rely on your recording as evidence.

Recordings can be tampered with, and that's one (good) reason why they are not routinely admissible. Companies have special recording equipment that (supposedly) makes tampering impossible without leaving evidence of it.

I know a BBC radio producer who once showed me how he could alter a taped conversation so as to completely alter its meaning. It was a revelation when he altered a short section of speech to make it sound as if the person who said yes had really said no.

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WhiteTruckMan

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a) You have the right to request a copy of the recording.

The weasel worded escape clause for that if they do not want to divulge a potentially embarrasing or damaging recording is the the disclaimer that that calls may be recorded. So the possibility is there right from the beginning that you are not guarenteed a recording.

b) You don't have to tell them you are also recording - you just can't rely on your recording as evidence.

And yet a large organisation can use their recording, because I have to give permission when notified about being recorded (in a pre recorded message), such permission being implied by not hanging up.

WTM

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Flak999

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Forum Editor

This is another case where it would seem that the law favours commercial organisations over ordinary members of the public. It seems to me that if it is ok for businesses to routinely inform you that your call may be recorded for training purposes, then conversely it should also be ok for you to inform that business that you also may record the call.

The difference is that you receive that message during the preliminary preamble to your call and your only option if you disagree is to hang up and not get the issue that you are calling about addressed. Whereas if when you actually get to speak to a human being and inform them that you may record the call, they invariably will not talk to you or will refer you to a supervisor who also will not address your problem whilst you are recording the call.

A definite case of double standards being applied I would say!

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