We are often asked by Alabama consumers if they should record abusive debt collectors who call. While this is a complicated question, our general answer is “No”. Recent cases have raised concerns for us about whether Alabama residents can record calls from other states that might require the consent of both parties.
Alabama is known as a “one party” state. Only one person or party has to agree or consent to the recording of a call. While we disagree with these rulings, some courts have ruled that if the call comes from a “two party” state into a one party state (like Alabama) consent must be obtained before recording.
There are numerous exceptions in the law of some (if not all) two party states that allow you to record a crime and often harassment is considered a crime but this question has become so complicated we generally recommend that you not record. You may not know where, for example, the call is coming from.
The safest thing to do is to either just take detailed notes of the call during and immediately after the call and/or tell the other person you are going to record if they keep talking. An abusive debt collector may not believe that you are recording as they often hear this from consumers.
Either approach is fine but we caution our clients to not record unless they know with certainty where the call is coming from and that it is legal to record. You do have to assume that the agency will record all calls and most of the time when you call you will get a message that calls may be recorded. If in litigation they don’t have the calls, this may raise a question as to why they destroyed the tapes that would support your claim of abuse.
Tapes are not needed to prove a case against an abusive debt collector and there is no need to risk running up against the law of some other state without carefully considering the consequences and circumstances. If you live in Alabama and are being abused by a debt collector or collection agency, please contact us.
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