Question: So I was reading MLCP. Some questions were interesting, especially the one with police tracking phone calls without our permission, so I have to ask this: can companies track deleted messages (SMS and text messages) from a mobile phone? If so, will they be able to recover or backup these messages? The reason is, I want to recover all the deleted phone messages as they are very important.
I must admit, the effort we put into answering the questions are often neglected. Some have even complained that we make up stories and repeat statements. We try our best, you see.
To answer your question, whether or not it’s possible to track text messages from phone, first we have to learn a little bit about the “call list.”
Let’s say that you have lost your mobile phone or someone stole it. Now you want to find out the location of the phone. You have to register a complaint, then get the complaint number (or crime reference number) and wait for the police to take action. Note that filing a false complaint for lost or stolen phone may lead to severe consequences.
The police will work with the SIM card operator to track your phone’s location. This process requires time and effort from your side. The police will obtain the “call list” which contains the following information:
- Incoming and outgoing phone calls
- Location of the phone and the time last phone call was made
- The type of communication — whether it’s a call or text message (SMS)
- Mobile number of the receiver along with the location
- Time or duration of the call
Look at the article titled, “How can Police Track Mobile Phones and Text Messages” where I have mentioned that cops will not use any physical GPS trackers or any equipments will be used 9 out of 10 times.
To find out the answer, I have asked two cops. One of them, a friend who works in police department, shared the call list with me. The list only contained information which I have mentioned above. I wasn’t able to read the text messages that were sent. And I am not even sure if recovering deleted text messages from a phone is even a possibility.
I have an explanation for this. Imagine if anyone can look at the photos saved on your phone. That is a clear invasion of privacy. Similarly, no one can look at the text messages stored on your phone. And if these messages are deleted then the chances of recovering them back are very slim.
Even if you have not lost your phone, the process is extremely difficult for several reasons. This is because we have hundreds of different phone models and each one works differently. Some mobile manufacturer, like Nokia, offers Nokia PC Suite where you can backup all your text messages — from inbox to sent items of SMS — on your computer. All SMS messages can be saved locally and can be read later on, even if your phone is damaged or lost.
If you use Android or Apple iPhone, you will find many third-party applications to backup text messages. There are even free and paid softwares that will be able to retrieve deleted SMS from your phone, albeit I haven’t tried any.
Asking the police officer to help you to permanently bring track lost or deleted text messages is not possible.