How to record phonecalls.
January 23, 2008 9:13 PM   Subscribe

How can I record phonecalls taking place on my cell phone?

After several interesting phone calls with both debt collectors and people who owe me money, it has occurred to me that it might be advantageous to record these calls. Problem is I have absolutely no idea how. I use a cell phone as my main line. How can I get clearly audible recordings (without expensive equipment)? Can some phones do this themselves, what else might I need?

Are there any laws about recording phone calls? Is it different for incoming and outgoing calls? When am I obligated to inform someone I am recording them?
posted by catatethebird to Technology (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of cellphone do you have? I know that on the newer Motorolas you can just hold down the voice record button (the same button used to record voice tags for auto-dialing) and it will record the caller.
posted by mezzanayne at 9:17 PM on January 23, 2008

Google's Grand Central
posted by phrontist at 9:23 PM on January 23, 2008

Radio shack, among others, sells suction cup microphones designed to be attached to phones to help record calls. You'd need to hook that up to a tape or digital recorder.

Many places have laws about recording phone calls without explicit permission. I don't know where you are, a web search using the terms: phone call recording laws
returns some good looking information that may be helpful for you.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:31 PM on January 23, 2008

Seconding Grand Central, which has a feature (basically, after setting up your account, you simply dial the # "4" and begin recording.

I'm given pause, though, because I think for this feature to work the individual calling you needs to dial your "GrandCentral" number, and not your original number.

And echoing bottlebrushtree's suggestion, definitely check out the legality and requirements of recording phone calls. Recently I recorded an interview over Skype, and had to begin with a disclaimer that I was recording the conversation, as doing so is required by law in California. Check the laws in your area.
posted by numinous at 11:00 PM on January 23, 2008

I had to deal with a shady debt collector once and so I looked into this. The laws of the state you're in when the call happens are what apply to you, you'll have to look them up. Some states require the consent of both parties before you record the call, some only require your consent. Some require that you notify the other party you're recording the call, others don't. Let me tell you, it's great fun to tell a collection agency drone you're recording their call, and you don't care that they don't consent because your state doesn't require it. Quickest way to get to a supervisor ever.

I had a Treo at the time, and I downloaded some software for it that let me record the calls. I don't remember the name of the software, but any PDA phone should be able to do that.
posted by TungstenChef at 12:07 AM on January 24, 2008

Knowing which phone you use would definitly help.
For Symbian S60 (The Better Nokia Phones, N- and E-Series) there are countless apps that do this thing. I use Psiloc Extended Recorder:,262240,Psiloc+Extended+Recorder
which is not free, but great.
There should be free alternatives.
For Windows Mobile there should defintily be something similar.
Your phone may support recording out of the Box, e.g. with some Sony Erricsons there is a record feature right in the options menu while on a call.
If your phone supports none of the above, it is still likely to have a headset jack. You can get a cheap headphone --> 3,5 mm Jack Adapter for most phones. Then you can connect it to your PC's line-in and record with mp3directcut ( or auiacity. This should give you a great recording quality.
posted by kall at 1:25 AM on January 24, 2008

Check this instructional video on how to record phone calls.
posted by labnol at 3:53 AM on January 24, 2008

I had to do this recently in a pinch, so no time to buy attachments or anything, what I did was use the loudspeaker option on my cell phone and record to my computer. It was rough, but it worked and was audible even though I was only using the built-in mic on my iMac. If I'd had a separate mic, I could have gotten a much cleaner recording I am certain.
posted by Orb at 5:53 AM on January 24, 2008

Legality by state:

Some states require that only one person consent (i.e. you). Others require both. The safest route is to always announce that you are recording, but not nearly as fun.
posted by GPF at 6:20 AM on January 24, 2008

Go to Radio Shack and buy their Wireless Phone Recording Controller, Cat. #17-855. You plug it into your phone, then plug a recorder and headset into the unit. It's made to do exactly what you are asking. Cost you about $10-$20, I forget what I paid. Works great.
posted by Camofrog at 7:57 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here you go, $25
posted by Camofrog at 8:02 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers, looks like there are several ways to do this. (It's a sony ericsson phone w600i, by the way, a couple of years old.)
posted by catatethebird at 8:47 AM on January 24, 2008

That Sony can probably just do it. My W810i certainly could. Just access the menu during a call (the left softkey on my phone) and see if the option's there.
posted by Magnakai at 9:13 AM on January 24, 2008

"Can We Tape?" has a state-by-state guide to laws about consent. U.S. federal law requires only one party's consent, but a handful of states - according to Wikipedia, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington - add their own requirement that *both*/all parties must consent.
posted by mediareport at 6:31 PM on September 25, 2008

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