Guidance and Information

Guidelines for Recording of Customer Telephone Calls


Introduction

Recording telephone calls involves the collection of personal information. Therefore, the practice should meet fair information practices. 

Organizations subject to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), must comply with PIPEDA when recording calls. The same requirements apply to calls initiated by the customer and to calls initiated by the organization. Organizations contracting out call centre, telemarketing and similar services must also ensure that third parties acting on their behalf comply with the Act.

Organizations should also be aware that a recording may collect personal information other than the content of the call, for example, a recording  

  • may capture incidental information that a customer service representative might not note - information that may not be germane to the call but could be used by the organization for other purposes;
  • will capture the caller's tone of voice, that could be used for other purposes such as a legal proceeding; and
  • can be used to infer information about the caller, for example ethnic origin and age that is not relevant to the purpose of the call.

To comply with PIPEDA

  • Organizations may only record calls for specified purposes;
  • The purposes must meet the reasonable person test;
  • Organizations must inform the individual that the call may be recorded and make a reasonable effort to ensure that the individual is advised of the purposes for which the information will be used;
  • The recording may only take place with the individual’s consent;
  • The information collected must only be used for the specified purposes; and
  • Organizations must ensure that they comply with the other provisions of the Act with respect to matters such as safeguards, access, retention and disposal.

The bottom line is that conversations should not be recorded unless it is "for purposes that a reasonable person would consider are appropriate in the circumstances." The individual must be informed of the recording and the purposes and the call may only be recorded with the individual’s consent, except in those very limited cases where consent is not required under PIPEDA.  Such cases could include calls made to collect a debt or to investigate a potential case of fraud.  Knowing that a call may be recorded could potentially hamper the organization’s ability to obtain accurate information.

Recording Procedures

In order to comply with the PIPEDA, organizations should take the following steps when recording conversations:

  1. The individual must be informed that the conversation is being recorded at the beginning of the call. This can be done by an automated recording or by the customer service representative.
  2. The individual must be advised of the purposes. The organization must be clear about the purposes; an organization should not state that it is recording the conversation for quality assurance purposes if, in fact, the recording will be used for other purposes. Informing the individual of the purposes can be done in a variety of ways - verbally, by pressing a number on the keypad (in the case of automated messages) or with clear messages on monthly statements. (For example: If you have any questions about your bill please call 1-800-XXX-XXXX. Please note your call will be recorded for...) If the individual proceeds knowing the conversation is being recorded and the purpose of the recording, consent is implied.
  3. If the caller objects to the recording, the organization should provide the caller with meaningful alternatives. The alternatives might involve not taping the call; visiting a retail outlet; writing a letter; or, conducting the transaction over the Internet.

Revised in June 2008