Illegal Recording of Phone Calls
Consumer Protection Attorneys in California
Under California’s Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), you “consumers” can take legal action and seek compensation against companies who have recorded phone calls without giving you the proper notice. Violations of CIPA include actions such as recording telephone conversations and recording cellphone conversations without prior consent.
Many people never realize their phone call is being recorded because the agent or representative fails to give them proper notice. This also means that if you are being inundated with harassing phone calls, particularly from debt collectors, listen closely to the beginning of every phone call. If you aren’t being told that the call is being recorded, ask, and make sure to ask if all of your earlier calls were recorded. If the answer to either question is yes, contact Potter Handy, LLP law firm immediately.
The damages for a violation of CIPA are significant – $5,000 per phone call – which in many cases, have been used to wipe out debts.
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A reasonable question for this sort of thing is “so what?” After all, who is recording phone conversations without giving notice? Well, surprisingly, almost every call center records phone calls. That’s because call center management has figured out that they can improve the quality of their calls by recording and listening to phone calls made by their employees. For that reason, you will often hear “this call may be recorded and monitored for quality assurance,” when you call into any call center.
But what if the call center calls you? That’s where things get interesting. In this, the law is clear, the recording party must get prior permission before they start recording. For most call centers, CIPA’s restrictions on recording outgoing calls can be highly problematic. By this point we’re all accustomed to hearing that calls may be monitored when we call a call center. But many call centers have found that announcing the call will be recorded during a call they make to consumers, is often the end of the call. So, rather than comply with the law, they just record.
Quick Introduction of the Law
California is a “two-party” consent state, where both parties on a telephonic conversation must agree to be recorded before any recording can take place. That’s due to the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), Penal Code § 630 et seq. Under CIPA, any call that contains confidential information cannot be recorded without both parties’ consent. Penal Code §632.
Further, Penal Code §632.7 (a) states every person who, without the consent of all parties to a communication, intercepts or receives and intentionally records, or assists in the interception or reception and intentional recordation of, a communication transmitted between two cellular radio-telephones, a cellular radio-telephone and a landline telephone, two cordless telephones, a cordless telephone and a landline telephone, or a cordless telephone and a cellular radio-telephone, shall be punished.
While Penal Code §§632 and 632.7 are penal statutes – a violation of either is technically a crime – a different provision of the penal code, specifically §637.2, allows for a private right of action. Under penal code §637.2, any violation of §§632 or 632.7 allows the plaintiff to seek statutory damages of at least $5,000 per recorded phone call.
We say at least $5,000 because if the plaintiff suffers greater harm from the phone call then they can seek more in damages.
To recover money under these statutes, the plaintiff has to prove that their call was:
- Recorded without their permission, and either
- Contained confidential information; or
- Was made to a cordless phone
Pursuing Statutory Damages of $5,000 for Each Instance of Illegal Recording
Our Consumer Protection Attorneys represent individuals and classes in illegal recording cases. We fight for the privacy rights of consumers throughout California and pursue civil remedies against entities that violate the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA).
If your rights have been violated, it is important to have our firm on your side. We have the skills to navigate the civil courts and the resources to bear the financial burden until the case has been resolved. Working on your behalf, the experienced attorneys at Potter Handy, LLP will hold violators accountable.
If you believe your rights have been violated, it is important to seek the help of an experienced consumer protection attorney.