How to Check Call History
Every cell phone has a "call history" interface which keeps track of every call made and received on that phone. You can check your call history in a variety of ways: either on the handset itself, through your online user account or on your printed monthly bill. However, keep in mind that most cell phones have a limited amount of storage and automatically delete call histories after a certain period of time. Your online account history may only cover the past three to six months. If you're seeking call history records that are more than six months old, you should contact your wireless provider's customer service department directly. Some phone companies will provide you a printout as a courtesy; others will charge a fee.
On the Handset
Go to the main menu of your cell phone's interface.
Scroll through the list of available options until you see "Recent Calls," or something to that effect. (This will vary based on your phone.)
Select "Incoming Calls" to see a list of all recent calls made to that phone, including the date, time, duration of call and the number calling you.
Select "Outgoing Calls" for a list of all recent calls dialed out from that phone, including date, time, number called, and duration of the call.
Select "Missed Calls" (not available on all phones) to see a list of incoming calls that were not answered personally and went to voice mail.
Go to your wireless provider's website and sign up for an online user account (if you don't already have one).
Log in to your account using your username and password.
Click "Billing," then "Billing History."
Search for the dates you want phone records for. You can usually search back over past billing statements for the past several months, sometimes up to a year.
Print a copy of the call detail records. Most call history reports will show the date and time of the call, the number dialed (or the number calling you), city/state called and length of the conversation.
Tips & Warnings
- If you need call history records that are not available online, call customer service or stop by one of your wireless provider's local offices. They can guide you through the process of getting older billing records from the archives. Be prepared to show photo ID and prove that you are the account holder of record. You may also be asked to pay a fee for copying services.
- Follow the steps in Section 2 if you're looking for land line phone records. Also look through your old printed bills; most monthly statements have a call detail page.
- Call detail reports also show text message history. These will show up on the report just like phone calls with date, time and sender's number. However, the report does not show the actual content of the text message or any photos/videos attached.
- Pretending to be someone else to get their phone records is illegal. Unless you are an immediate family member, have a subpoena or have the account holder's written authorization, you cannot legally access another person's telephone records.
- There are many companies on the Internet marketing cell phone spyware, promising that you can, for a fee, monitor anyone's incoming/outgoing calls and text messages. Most of these companies are located offshore for good reason; the software violates U.S. wiretapping laws. (Unless you have the cell phone owner's permission.)
References & Resources
- PR Log: How to Get Cell Phone Records
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Protect Your Cell Phone Records
- The New York Times: With a Little Stealth, Just About Anyone Can Get Phone Records
- Library of Congress: Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006 (H.R. 4709, 109th U.S. Congress)
- cNet: A Quick Guide To Reading Your Phone Bill
- WTHR News: Tapping Cell Phones: Spyware on Mobile Phones