Episode 80: Are Granny Cams Legal?

are granny cams legal

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This week’s episode is a reader question episode – we love those!

Devin has a question from Joe. Joe wonders if it makes sense to keep a balance on a credit card in order to keep your credit score higher. Devin thought this was an important question, because he recently read that 40% of people think that carrying a balance helps to improve your credit score. But that’s not really true, because the credit scoring model tracks payments, not balances.  That’s one of those credit card myths that needs to die, because it is costing people money paying interest on balances from month to month.

When it comes to credit cards, if you can’t pay it off every month, don’t use it.

On to our next question: John got an email from Becky, who asks, “What does the law read on placing cameras in a patient’s room while in nursing care?” Basically, can you legally put a camera into your loved one’s nursing home room to keep an eye on what is going on? Cameras have become so cheap, and easy to obtain, it seems like a good idea to make sure that your loved ones are being cared for and that their belongings aren’t wandering off.

There are laws on this, and the laws vary by state. In some states, if one party (participant) in the conversation gives permission to record the conversation, then it is legal. In other states, then both (or all) of the people in the conversation must consent to the recording. But in neither of those cases can you legally record other people’s conversations if you’re not a party to the conversation.

Then, there are specific laws that apply to situations like nursing care. This all goes back to a case in Oklahoma where the family of a nursing home patient set up a camera in their Mama’s room. As they watch the video, they see one of the staff members pick up the woman and toss her on the bed, then start physically abusing her. As a result of this case, Oklahoma was the first state to pass a law permitting folks to put a camera in the room of their loved one’s nursing home room. A few more states have enacted such laws, but not all of them. If you are in a state which has not permitted this taping, you are at risk of violating the wiretapping and other laws in that state.

So, if you live in a state that allows taping, you can do it, but you have to follow the rules for that particular state. For example, in Texas, you have to notify the nursing home that you are installing cameras, and you have to post a conspicuous notice that people entering the room may be recorded.
If you’re in a state that has not made a law permitting recording, you might want to be careful. For example, if it is a state that requires all parties to consent, then you might be in trouble if you get caught. You want to be very careful and talk to someone who understands the rules in your state.

Highlights of this week’s episode:

  • Why you probably show a balance on your credit report even if you pay it off every month
  • What happens if the person in the nursing home can’t give consent to be recorded?

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Forbes article: The Simple Credit Mistake Costing Americans Millions

Episode 70: Does Your Credit Score Matter In Retirement?

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Every few weeks, Devin and John answer reader questions during the show.  Send your questions to questions@bigpictureretirement.net.