The internet has unveiled a storm of misinformation regarding text messages and whether private investigators can obtain them from a phone carrier. The answer is and has always been, no. The simplest way to look at it is by likening it to listening to someone’s phone calls, which is illegal to do. We at Discreet Investigations have worked on both domestic and criminal cases. We have dealt with the security departments for many of the primary cell service providers. We know for a fact that text messages and other cell data are only obtainable in minimal situations.
Obtaining text messages is simple if legal circumstances call for it. If a court issues a subpoena for the phone records, it needs to be served to the service provider, which can then have its security division unlock the messages, which are only held for 48 hours and are unreadable without the security department’s intervention.
Getting a lawyer is not a guaranteed way to access cell phone records, though. There are very few documented civil cases where this has actually been granted, and 99% of the time it is for criminal matters and runaway or abducted children.
The best thing you can do is save your money; trying to obtain cell phone records for a non-criminal investigative case will likely never happen. Instead, follow an experienced private investigator’s advice on how to gather evidence for your situation. An experienced investigator will shoot straight with you on this, as they don’t want to waste their time chasing something they know they can’t get anyway, then dealing with disappointed or disgruntled clients because they could not get the information.
There are several misconceptions about what a professional private investigator can legally obtain. These myths may begin with your bridal client’s insistence that her husband has a secret bank account, or your colleague has boasted about how his investigators found the smoking gun in the opponent’s phone records, or it’s possible that you picked up some ideas from the latest corporate espionage page-turner.
No matter what the reason, you need the information and you need it now! So why can’t your private investigator get it for you? Typically, there are two reasons for this:
- First, the information may be closed and protected by either state or federal statute. In this case, your investigator may be able to identify where the data is located. Location is beneficial information for leverage in negotiations, future subpoena requests, or discovery motions. In some cases (e.g. employment or insurance fraud investigations), you may have a previously-signed release from the subject that will allow you to access this private information.
- The second reason is that the information simply doesn’t exist. The information may not be compiled into a single database or a large format. An investigator may ultimately be able to obtain the news, but the process isn’t as simple as you might think.
Although working later, smelling of perfume or cologne, and a decrease in intimacy are still relevant indicators of infidelity, odd cell phone behaviour is by far today’s most common sign that someone is cheating. Since the proliferation of cell phones, “smart” phones, tablets, applications aka “apps”, the internet, email, etc., connecting with family, friends, and lovers has never been more accessible.
In such a life, work is not working as people generally think of it, but merely doing what needs to be done. It’s funny, how one can look back on a sorrow one thought one might well die of at the time, and know that one had not yet reckoned the tenth part of genuine grief. History isn’t the lies of the victors, as I once glibly assured Old Joe Hunt; I know that now. It’s more the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious nor defeated. It’s funny. No matter how hard you try, you can’t close your heart forever. And the minute you open it up, you never know what’s going to come in. But when it does, you just have to go for it! Because if you don’t, there’s no point in being here.
Recovering & Viewing Text Messages
While some may hold text messages at a lower value, this form of communication can provide convenience and a more permanent form of messaging. In addition to allowing cell phone holders to send a quick message rather than having to make a longer call, text messages can also be used in the courtroom. More than just a virtual message, a text can offer evidence and insight into a case. While not all phone calls are recorded, or they can be deleted, a text is more permanent and can offer inerasable facts.
Just no one can view text messages, but with a warrant, they can be obtained. Through the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), cell phone providers are forbidden from printing out words, even when it is for the individual’s personal account. Through online access, the number of text messages and the numbers they were sent and received from can be viewed. What will not be found in the actual content of the word?
For those that are looking to gain the printout of their text messages for a legal matter, it will be necessary to call local law enforcement to find out how this can be done. Based on the 2006 Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act, local law enforcement may be unable to help, and the FBI may need to be sought instead. Contacting the FBI is a legitimate way to obtain records, but it should be only in more severe circumstances. They have the ability and the authority to use digital forensics to acquire a message from any type of electronically handheld device, including news that has been deleted.
Under the U.S. Government Legal Code: Title 18 USC § 2703 – Disclosure of Customer Communications or Records (a) Contents of Wire or Electronic Communications in Electronic Storage- Government entities have the ability to require that the information from electronic or wire communication that is in an automated communications system or storage for a period of 180 days or less be disclosed by the provider. This must be done through a court with jurisdiction issuing a warrant that is following the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. If it is done through the State court, the order will need to adhere to those specific warrant procedures.
For those looking to retain copies of messages, the following steps should be followed:
USB SIM card reader software should be installed onto a computer.
Through the USB port, the SIM card readers will need to be connected to the computer. The SIM card from the phone with the messages will need to be inserted into the reader, which will transfer the copies of the letters from the phone to the computer.
Text messages should then be printed out after being put on the computer.
Not every type of cell phone will come with a SIM card or messages that have been retained by the card reader. In these cases, a transcript should be sought from the cell phone provider, and a court order will be needed to do so, according to the Shared Communications Act. This is true even for a person that is trying to get the messages from their own phone since the words were between the telephone of another individual that still has certain protected rights. Different cell phone companies have their own way of holding on to text messages, so it is essential to be aware of this. Some may only hold on to them for a few weeks, while others may keep them on a file for a few years.
It is best to turn to a professional and make sure that you are following the correct procedure. Contact us at Sunset Blvd. Investigations, Inc. to learn the ways that we can aid you with your investigation needs.
Victory Investigations’ private investigators are certified in the procedures involved in recovering digital evidence from various electronic devices including basic cell phones and cell phones with advanced capabilities (“smart” phones – i.e. Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry devices). We use the latest hardware and software to obtain whatever evidence may exist on the target device. Evidence can exist in many places on the device. There are even applications dedicated to hiding pictures, texts (SMS & MMS), chat messages, phone calls, photos, and videos. These tools can be masked as innocent applications and can require an additional password to access its contents. We can locate the password or circumvent the password altogether to gain access to this critical evidence.
Deleted data, such as entire text conversation strings, pictures, videos, chat messages & logs, email, browsing history, and much more may still exist on the device. This information is stored for a limited amount of time and is subject to how the user has the equipment set up and how much the method is actually used. There is also vital information stored on the device’s S.D. card and SIM card, if applicable.
Texts, tweets, posted photos can lead to trysts. Social networking sites like Facebook get a bad rap as marriage breakers, allowing us to rapidly reconnect with that high school sweetheart or meet a total stranger the minute marriages hit the doldrums. Check out our range of Top private investigators to help in your problem with legal nature, or business-related, or private and personal related.
Some say 30 per cent of dating site users are cheaters.
But there is a flip side — lipstick on the collar is no longer a cheat’s most significant problem because an electronic infidelity trail is now almost impossible to erase. “Nightline” spoke with two private investigators who delve into suspected cheaters’ digital footprints. They revealed what red flags they look for and how they do it.
“Privacy doesn’t exist anymore,” said John Nazarian, a private investigator in Los Angeles. “Technology is going to get you caught at some point.”
Deleted Stuff On Cell Phones Can Be Retrieved text: Ed Opperman, a Colorado-based PI, said he had recovered deleted text messages, calendar updates, memos, incoming and outgoing call records and other information from cell phones of alleged cheats.
“There’s a lot of information in a phone that is excellent for an infidelity investigation,” Opperman said. “We want the deleted stuff, that’s what we’re looking for.”
Website Registries Can Be Combed for Email Addresses text: For a fee, Opperman offers to scour dating, escort services, porn and personal ad website registries for a suspected cheat’s email address through his website, emailrevealer.com. “It is swift,” he said. “The whole search takes about 20 minutes.”
Long Phone Call Records Can Be a Red Flag text: Don’t forget about those good old fashioned phone records. Some private investigators will look through those too for clues. Nazarian said when he looks at phone bills for someone who is suspected of cheating, he takes note of the number of minutes someone is talking.
“Most cell phone calls are like a minute, two minutes, three minutes max,” he said. “When you see a 30, 40, 50-minute cell phone call and that number keeps popping up, there’s a problem.”
quick list: title: Cyber Honey Traps Can Be Set text: Some private investigators will also try to approach a suspected cheater online to lure them or catch them in the act.
“In general, on the Internet, people think they are invisible,” Opperman said. “They think they can get away with a lot. The older ones, they aren’t that tech-savvy, and they don’t realise the trail that they are leaving behind
Email Tracking and SMS Tracing: In this age of electronic communication hiding one’s true identity appears to be more comfortable than ever before, but ICS’ private investigators have sophisticated tools at their disposal that can track down emails, instant messages, and cell phone calls to tell you where they are coming from and who is sending them.
Are you finding instant messages or emails from unknown senders on your computer? Are the words you are receiving threatening or creepy? Using SMS tracing software, an ICS investigator can track down the name, address and location of the sender, and tell you who is cyber-stalking you.
Conversely, our savvy cyber investigators can plant web bugs in your emails, and track them to tell you who opens your outgoing email, when the email is opened, if the email is forwarded to someone else, and who is receiving the forwarded mail. Web bugs are tiny, invisible objects that can be embedded in an email or on a webpage to monitor the activity associated with the document. If you believe your children are communicating with someone you have to ban them from associating with, or that your spouse is pursuing cyber infidelity, simply send them an irresistibly funny, web-bugged email that they will want to share with others, and see who they forward it to. We have the best range of cheating partners investigation to help you. Check it out here.
Do you suspect your spouse or child is lying to you about where they are when they phone you? Using global positioning (GPS) tracking, an investigator can monitor the whereabouts of the cell phone when the call is placed. You will know almost instantly where the person who is calling you is located. With a GPS enabled cell phone, you will be able to trace every movement of the person carrying the phone and follow their trail from one location to another. (This GPS tracking is generally used by law enforcement in locating underage children, and can only be used by a private investigator for permissible purposes, please get a free consultation to find out the specifics as to the availability of GPS tracking for use in your case).
Are you a business owner who suspects that your employees are misusing company email? You can rely on ICS for the best in email capture technology so that you will soon know who is passing on confidential company information to others. Do you suspect that your field staff is not where they are supposed to be when they leave the office? By using GPS cell phones, you will be able to locate the whereabouts of your field staff on a moment’s notice. If your team is engaged in hazardous work, the GPS tracking on these phones can also help you quickly locate them in the event of an accident or emergency.
Cell phones equipped with SMS tracking (spy software) enable a third party to secretly receive duplicate copies of all incoming and outgoing text message traffic on the phone. These messages will be forwarded directly to a third party phone without any indication to the person being spied on. You will know precisely what your spouse, children, or employees are saying while texting with others after our investigators download this software on to your phones. At Private Investigators, we have a huge range of background check investigations.
Delete? Phone forensics can help.
Delete? Have you lost valuable information from a mobile phone or tablet? Smartphones and tablets are incredible pieces of science. They can do so much nowadays – I can even run the entire investigation business from my convenient smartphone. Phone calls, text messages, emails, chat sessions, Facebook, Twitter – information all there at your fingertips. But where does that information go after you delete it? And do you even delete it?
Forensic data recovery is even more incredible than being able to have all this information at our beck and call. Today we have access to some unbelievable telephone forensics which allows the forensic technician to be able to explore the device and collect almost all current and deleted information. That’s right, even deleted data can be available on a mobile telephone. Would your spouse’s mobile phone hold the secrets he has been hiding? Would you’re girlfriend’s tablet hold those mysterious chat sessions with a previous lover? What if you needed to retrieve text messages from your phone for a legal case and the detail was deleted months ago?
In most cases, our forensic telephone technician can gain control of all of this valuable information. He only requires the device or handset for a few hours, just long enough to download the data held on the device (sometimes it is even quicker). He will then head back to the lab and correlate the information. The more data collected, the longer it will take to piece together. This does take some time to turn all of the 0’s and 1’s back into legible information, and this is where to bulk of the cost becomes apparent. The complete download service and report preparation do cost upwards of $2500, but it may be a valuable source of information for you to make judgments about your future.
Not all Sydney private investigators can offer this sort of service – it is very specialised, and there are few real experts. Our technician is the best in the business, and you can be sure that anything that can be done to salvage your lost data will be.
Of course, nothing is better than proper old fashioned visual surveillance when gathering intelligence for any matter. Still, mobile phone data recovery is another possible source in the never-ending grab for information. For any of your investigation requirements – call us – we are here to assist.