Can Private Investigators Get Cell Phone Records

So . . . you are looking to hire a private investigator to get cell phone records.

You may have searched all over the Internet and run into multiple sites that claim to provide copies of cell phone records.

Here is the bottom line: Unless you are the owner of the cell phone in question or have specific permission or a court order to obtain the records, private investigators (or anyone else) cannot get cell phone records for you (unless you want to break the law, of course).

History Lesson

Until about 2006, cell phone records could easily be obtained from hundreds of websites on the Internet for as little as $100.

These websites would obtain cell phone records through “pretexting,” in which an individual would falsely identify himself or herself as the owner of a cell phone number in order to obtain confidential phone records.

In 2006, pretexting was thrown into the spotlight when HewlettPackard hired private investigators to access the private phone records of board members and nine journalists. One private investigator was later convicted and sentenced to three months in prison.

In 2007, President Bush signed the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006, which made it a federal felony to fraudulently acquire telephone records.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that unless you are the owner of the phone number in question or you have specific permission or a court order, you cannot obtain someone else’s phone records.

Unless, of course, you are willing to commit a felony . . . or hire someone else to commit a felony for you.

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8 replies
  1. Rhonda M. Werner
    Rhonda M. Werner says:

    Ok so what Im hearing on this site is a Private Investigator can not retrieve cell phone records that aren’t my own.. however, if I get a court order done by an attorney 1st he can get those text messages off of someone elses phone? if the Attorney is aware that a suicidal case has been closed but I feel there is reason to believe that 2 other’s co~inspired a way to get his Money out his safe and particular items in the home which they did, after his suicide. These 2 people were not in his will nor was the Will sent to probate. The Deceased Daughter gave her consent for them to take out of the home Items that they wanted. that should have gone to her, but she was in shock and was taken advantage of … in another words can an attorney refuse to get a court order if he feels this case has been closed even though i tell him the situation ? does that make sence? Thank you .. hope this isnt’ to confusing.. Rhonda

  2. Sara
    Sara says:

    This is very informative. Thank you for addressing what has been troubling me for some time. Someone attempted to obtain my telephone records by calling my provider, impersonating me to change my billing address. I believe this was a private investigator hired to obtain information about me. I reported the incident to my provider. Is there anything more I can do to pursue this issue? Thank you for your time.

  3. John Nalewajek
    John Nalewajek says:

    Family member from Europe has only 2 telefon number to her father who passedaway
    in 2007,how can she get billing address to this tel? (This were business numbers in New York NY.) Thank you

  4. Arlene
    Arlene says:

    They are Threatning to expose pictures n relinquish harmful information to me (wife) I have no intentions in divorcing my husband but need the harassments/blackmail to stop’ person started off bieng a so called “PI” later disclosed to me she was a female, I’ve since then changed my cell number 3times. Now my husband is receiving such text. Any advice from a legal standpoint?

  5. damaris vazquez
    damaris vazquez says:

    i would like to retrieve old texts and phone records from early this year from my old cell, it no longer has service and i cancel the services in march of 2013. would you be able to retrieve and if how much am i looking at?

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