True story: Voicemail as a Defense Tool

Cam Cole
8.14.13

This is a true example of what can be done with voice mail as a defense tool. The names in this story have been changed, but the story is real.

Once upon a time there was a hard working family man we will call “Bob”. Bob worked a blue collar job for a large firm for several years.  He was successful at this position, paid his dues in life, and was on good terms with most if not everyone he worked with.

One day a report was filed with HR about some alleged wrong doing; nothing criminal mind you but a definite black mark and possibly a firing offense for Bob.  Seemed a co-worker named “Nick”, had reported some alleged policy violations that made Bob, who also happened to be a friend of Nick’s, look like a major screw-up in the workplace.

Now several days later Nick felt horrible about filing this report, falsely accusing Bob of these violations.  Nick called Bob and left a voice mail begging for forgiveness. On the voice mail, Nick confessed that a senior supervisor, one of the very few people who did not like Bob, had threatened his job if he did not falsify the report.  As you can guess this voice message was very damaging evidence against the unscrupulous supervisor who had arranged the entire situation to eliminate Bob.

It’s unfortunate, but on occasion, people lie.  Or their memory does not match the facts. Sure, most people are good and try to do the right thing but sometimes they are misled, coerced and sometimes, just malicious. Being able to produce a voice mail record is a powerful asset.

It is not only litigators or criminal investigators who can use voice mails as evidence.  In this case, voice mail helped resolve an H.R. issue that would have turned into a legal issue, but voice mail can play an important proactive role in lots of areas: from customer service to emergency response.  The intention and tone of the message is not subject to interpretation like it can be in an email.  (There’s a reason why 911 recordings are played so often: they are compelling!)

Now you might be inclined to think “why would I want to save voice mail if it can be so damning?”  You do – for lots of reasons that actually protect your organization rather than harm it:

  • Voice mail became a discoverable record in 2006.  If you are asked for it, you have to produce it.
  • Technology has evolved so that the “difficulty in provision” argument is no longer an easy out for voice mail discovery.
  • Avoid legal censure & penalties for failure to take reasonable steps to preserve.  Waiting until receipt of a subpoena can land you in a lot of expensive legal hot water.
  • Ability to leverage the message & its meta-data to quickly know the facts of an allegation to head off potential problems early.
  • Customer service issue tracking.
  • H.R. support.
  • Ensure regulatory compliance (as applicable).

Most organizations understand the logic of the need to archive email communications, yet too many are leaving themselves exposed on voice mail records.

Message Vault can quickly solve this issue.  It provides easy, flexible voice mail archiving for the latest Cisco phone platform.  It enables secure, accountable policy-driven record retention of voice mail, along with the ability to search, filter, restore and report on those message records.  It’s easy to implement and use, and as an added benefit for IT, it offers tremendous storage capacity savings and great administrative support tools to help manage their voice mail.

So be forewarned: What you say can and can be used against you – whether you like it or not!

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