For privacy reasons, you can't easily access someone else's cellphone records, even if the person is a relative or romantic partner. But there are some instances where accessing phone records is warranted, especially if a loved one is missing, or you're concerned about a child's cellphone activity. You can look up cellphone records for those who are on your account, but unless you can get the phone, you'll need a police warrant or an attorney's help to request cellphone records for anyone who isn't.
Obtaining Phone Records Online
If you need to pull cellphone records for someone in your own household, it's probably as simple as logging into your online account. If you're with AT&T, for instance, you'll log into your account, go to your account overview, click on "My Wireless," then select "See All Usage" under "My Usage." Here you'll have the option to view data, text and talk logs for each person on your plan.
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T-Mobile subscribers can view information on T-Mobile messages, voice and data usage information for each line on their plan. Simply find the line in question, select "Download Usage Records" and save the file to either view or print.
If you have difficulty finding the information online, you can try contacting your cellphone service provider to determine if you can get the information through them. Verizon, for instance, stores only 12 months of call history on each account, so you'll need to print from your phone or computer, or download them and save them, if you want to have them longer.
Obtaining Phone Records on Phone
Your online account is only one way to get a person's phone records. If you have access to the person's phone – and you're either the parent or you have permission – you can pull up the call or text history there. How you do it depends on the phone type, but generally going to the app will take you to the history.
This method does limit you, unfortunately. The iPhone deletes a person's phone history and text messages after a certain number has been reached. On top of that, a user can delete calls and messages fairly easily, making them tough to retrieve.
It's also important to note that unlike looking online, when you search through someone's phone, you can see the actual content of the person's text messages. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile messages can be looked up on individual phones under the text app. If you are one of the primary account holders on that person's account and you want to see the content of past AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile messages, though, you'll be disappointed if you look up your call log online, as you'll only see incoming and outgoing numbers and times, not the content. If you pull it up on the person's cellphone, make sure you print from phone any messages you need for later reference.
Legal Requests for Phone Records
If a person isn't on your plan, getting phone records is quite a bit more complicated, for privacy reasons. However, there are professionals who can get those records, including law enforcement agencies, as long as they have probable cause. They often will obtain a warrant for the cellphone itself, though, and search the history for the information they need.
But if there's a court case coming up, your attorney can request the necessary records from the cellphone provider. However, as with your own cellphone account, you probably won't be able to see the actual content of text messages through these records – only the call log showing the numbers and times of incoming and outgoing calls. In some cases, an attorney may be able to request the desired records, which the other party's attorney will need to print from the phone itself.