By Jedidiah McKeehan

So you may have found yourself in a situation where you think, “I should be recording this phone conversation.”

Is it legal to record a phone conversation?  Do you have to tell the other person that you are recording the conversation like the collection agencies do when you talk to them?

No, you do not have to tell the other person you are recording your phone conversation with them.  In Tennessee, it is legal to record a phone conversation if at least one person knows that the conversation is being recorded.

Can a phone conversation be recorded between two people if neither of them knows that the conversation is being recorded?  Not typically.  Only law enforcement can record conversations in which neither party knows they are being recorded.  They are able to do this via a “wiretap,” and the wiretap must be approved by obtaining a warrant to do so signed off on by a judge.

Why in the world would you need to record a conversation with someone?  Well, typically you see this happen when individuals are going through a divorce or a custody battle of some sort.  They will then use the recorded statements against the other person in court in an attempt to achieve the result that they desire.

Other instances in which phone conversations may be recorded are when someone wants to try to have the other person arrested for making threats, or for proof of threats in order to obtain an order of protection.

Back to the original question though, can you record a phone conversation you are having with someone as long as you know the conversation is being recorded?  Yes, you can.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.