How Do I Perform an SMS Trace?


SMS is still one of the most commonly used forms of communication today, and many people rely on those short messages to get important information out to their peers. It’s also surprising how much trust we put into this technology, considering how little privacy it gives us on average. In reality, SMS is quite the vulnerable corner of communications technology, and performing various tracing operations on a text message is not something reserved for crime dramas on TV only.

Depending on what you need to find out, and what your exact definition of an “SMS trace” is, you might be able to find out quite a lot about the communication going through a certain device. On the other hand, if the user of the phone is savvier about security, you might be a bit out of luck. It’s a constant game of cat and mouse, and considering that people value their privacy, it’s understandable why it’s constantly getting more and more challenging to obtain the records of their conversations and otherwise dig deep into their devices like you might want to.

Tracking Communication on a Regular Basis

If you need to find out what a person is saying to others on a regular basis, this can easily be accomplished with the use of some specialized tools nowadays. Keep in mind that you’ll likely have to deploy the tool on the device itself, which may be a problem if you’re trying to go about this in a more covert way.

As long as you can obtain physical access to the phone for at least a few minutes though, that’s pretty much all you need to set it up for tracking. And with the help of a modern tracking app, you can actually keep an eye on a lot more than simple SMS communications – you may even be able to track other types of activities on the device, depending on its operating system and the specific app that you’re using.

The good news is, modern apps of this kind are very well-developed and excel at what they do, allowing you to extract the information you’re after with relative ease. You don’t even have to be experienced at using smartphones or computers in most cases – all it takes is to follow the instructions carefully, and before you know it, you’ll have the phone’s entire conversational history lined up right in front of your eyes!

Storing Specific Messages

It may also be possible to get your hands on specific SMS messages, rather than following the entire conversation history of the person. This can be done with specialized backup utilities, and may even be a feature provided by the operating system itself by default. Of course, it’s also usually something that requires extra privileges in order to gain access to it, and it may alert the user that their messages are being stored elsewhere.

If you want to avoid that, the only real way of accomplishing what you’re trying to do is to go with a more specialized app like the ones we described above. While you may be able to get the job done with the default tools provided by the smartphone’s operating system in some cases, you can’t rely on that, especially when you have more specialized needs or want to perform your tracking in an organized manner.

Tracing the Origin of a Message

If your concern is to find out who sent a specific message with questionable contents, that’s a bit more difficult, and you may be out of luck. It’s very easy to spoof the origin of an SMS with simple tools available to anyone, and you can’t rely on any of the information contained within the message if you’re trying to narrow down its source.

In some rare cases, you may be lucky enough to have the origin of the message already covered by a tracking app that’s under your control, but this usually concerns some very specific situations – the kind where you’ll likely already have some idea of who to expect, you just need to confirm your suspicions. This is not really the kind of situation covered by the design of most tracking applications, so you’re a bit out of luck if that’s what you’re dealing with. There are other channels you might want to approach in that case.

Can the Carrier Help?

Depending on the exact contents of the message, you might be able to get help from the carrier themselves. If someone is using their network to spread illegal contents, for example, this is something they would definitely have an interest in. However, it might be difficult to get them to take you seriously if you don’t approach them with a copy of a police report or something along those lines, so make sure that you prepare your side of the situation as carefully as possible. You’ll typically only get one shot at getting the information you need out of the carrier in most cases, so make it count and show them that you’re prepared.

It can also help to show them that you’re more technically adept than the average person, and that you’ve already done your research – but again, it will mostly boil down to whether you have any legal ground to stand on. Chances are, they will choose to simply ignore your request if they believe that it’s not justified, leaving you to pursue other venues.

What About Anonymous Messages?

It’s possible to send text messages in an anonymized form relatively easy nowadays, making it even more difficult to know who’s behind a certain SMS that might be annoying you. In those cases, even your carrier may not be able to help you, especially if the perpetrator used an online service freely available to anyone to send the original message. It’s still worth checking it out as an option, but don’t get your hopes up too much, and remember that you’ll likely have to take matters into your own hands in order to get the situation under control properly.


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