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How to Track Cell Phone Text Messages

There are many cell phone users who want to know how to track cell phone text messages from unknown senders. Here's how you can go about it.
Techspirited Staff
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
Dedicated Android Tracking App?
SMS Tracker Plus is a dedicated Android tracking app that enables you to monitor phone calls, SMS, MMS, browsing history, and GPS location.
App on Smart Phone Screen
Today's world of technology has come with a boon and a bane. Cell phones do allow you to stay in touch with your loved ones, but you can also tell the biggest lies about your current location while using these phones. And as parents, you can be overly concerned about your child's safety. Also, if someone is trying to trouble you by sending unnecessary messages, the best way to know the identity is by using the tracking services. Firstly, keep the guilt out of the picture here because if you are tracking someone's phone, it's gotta be out of concern. Also, some of these services have proven to be useful in finding some missing people in the past. As they say, prevention is better than cure. Here are a few apps that will allow you to prevent your kid/partner from falling into any kind of trouble.

* Before using any app, read the terms and conditions thoroughly.
Cell Phone Text Tracking Services
Many popular tracking softwares are available that can help you to trace a cell phone's whereabouts. All these apps have the basic GPS tracking, message tracker, call tracking, and website browsing history tracker. Apart from these, there are other important features that help you in your cause. Here are five popular tracking apps/software.
My Mobile Watchdog ($14.99/month)
  • As the name suggests, it is a watchdog that will keep a watch on all the activities of a particular cell phone.
  • You can monitor phone calls, text messages, and MMS as well. You will receive instant notifications regarding your child's activities via email or text messages.
  • If you are suspicious about a friend of your child, you can set alerts for that contact. Your child's contact list will be copied onto your master contact list. So, you can mark "Allow" or "Alert" and only then you will be authorized to make changes to this list.
  • The Internet can be a bane, if not used appropriately. You can block websites which you do not find appropriate enough for your child's usage. And if your child attempts to browse the blocked website, you will be notified of the same.
  • Phones can be a distraction during study time. Now, you can set time blocks during which your child will be allowed to make only emergency calls and calls to some important numbers, like yours.
  • One of the best features this software has a tracker that alerts you whenever there are certain keywords included in a text message sent or received on the phone.
  • Also, you can block the inbuilt apps, like social networking apps, instant messaging apps, gaming apps, etc. Only the correct password will unlock the app.
SpyBubble ($49.95, 3-month license)
  • Another cell phone tracking software is the SpyBubble. You can track calls that are made from/received on the cell phone. You can view the call log and get details about the call duration and frequency of calls between the two numbers. If the number is stored in the phone memory, you can get the contact details of the particular number.
  • Text messages that are sent/received can be read on the monitoring device. And if your kid actually plays smart by deleting the message, you can still read them!
  • Knowing your child's current location has become easier, thanks to Google maps. Now, you can locate the monitored cell phone via the GPS tracker.
  • You can view the email accounts of the monitored number and get notifications about every incoming and outgoing mail. Website tracking is also possible using this software.
  • Pictures can speak a thousand words, is what they say. So maybe, even you can find some information by simply taking a look at the photos that are being sent/received on the phone.
  • Ambiance or environment also adds to wrongdoings. If your child is having a conversation with someone in a suspicious environment and in person, you can get details about the environment they are in. Whether the meeting is held in a private room or in a hotel lobby, you will know it all.
  • Only a few phones support this software. The ones that can be monitored using this are- BlackBerry OS 4.2.1 or higher versions, Android 1.0 or higher versions, Symbian S60, iPhone OS versions 2.x, 3.x, 4.x, and 5.x, and Windows mobile 5.x and 6.x.
Mobile Monitor (Free version is available)
  • Apart from the regular call, messaging, email, images, audio, and video tracking, Mobile Monitor lets you track many other activities of the target phone.
  • All it takes is a few minutes with the target phone to install the software onto it, and then connect to the receiving end dashboard via the Internet.
  • If you are using an iOS, you will be familiar with the Viber feature which allows you to make free calls and messages. All the text messages, call data, and images that are shared can be logged.
  • Skype is the most used app for video calling and can often be used for all the wrong reasons. All the text messages exchanged and calls made/received on Skype can be monitored.
  • Even iMessage cannot escape the monitoring of Mobile Monitor. iOS users enjoy free messaging over 3G or Wi-Fi using this app. You can view all the messages that are sent/received using this app.
  • In case of thefts, it is often the case that the SIM card is replaced by a new one. Now, you don't need a separate theft tracker device. This software will alert the monitoring device about SIM change, and you will also get information about the number of the new SIM card.
  • In similar situations, you can rest assured that your private data has not been viewed by the thief. All this data is safe with you. In case you have forgotten the device, you can reset or restart the device by sending an SMS to it.
mSpy (For About $39.99)
  • With mSpy, you can view calls made/received from a particular number along with call duration and timestamp.
  • Not only this, all these calls can be recorded, too. Also, if you are suspicious about a particular number, you can set predefined recording settings for calls received/made to that number. You can also block incoming calls from particular phone numbers.
  • You can keep a check on the text messages that are sent/received.
  • All the content sent/received from email services, like Gmail, Yahoo, etc., can be viewed. If your target cell phone has stored some websites as bookmarks, you can view them and check if they are viewing inappropriate content.
  • Similar to other software, the websites can be blocked and temporarily unblocked at a particular time of the day.
  • The phone's current location can be viewed by using the GPS tracking feature.
  • All the calendar entries can be viewed, and a log of all the tasks are created.
  • All logs of WhatsApp chats, Skype calls and chats, iMessages SMS data, and Viber calls and messages can be obtained.
  • Any monitoring will be incomplete without checking the online hangout place, Facebook. You can keep a track of the messages and updates made by your kids or employees by using this feature. Also, if your device is stolen or misplaced, you can perform a wipeout on the device. This will delete all the data from the device; however, the backup will be there in the software's database.
Some Extra Tips
If you want to trace and track sent and received text messages of your children, you can avail services provided by online cell phone tracking agencies. You will be required to install the appropriate software on the cell phones which need to be tracked. The text messages are monitored, and notifications are sent to cell phones of the ones seeking the records, who then need to check their online account to obtain the details of the SMS. You have to pay a monthly or one-time charge for availing this kind of SMS tracking service. Note that not only can you track SMS, but also get details such as call records, photos taken, and location. You can even view the screen of the phone being tracked (on smartphones). These kinds of services are suitable for parental control and employee tracking.
Your ability to keep a phone under surveillance will depend on the type of phones in use- both yours and the target's. Non-smartphones will only get text tracking and call tracking. Smartphones can go way beyond just that. You can use the phone's GPS system to find out where the phone is as well as the Internet usage done. You can even access their phonebook and emails. All you need is for the phone to be 'on'.
Reverse Directory Lookups
If you are getting unwanted text messages from an unknown cell phone number, you can use the Internet to find out who the sender is. This can be done by reverse phone lookup services. You simply have to enter the cell phone number, and the site gives you the results for the unknown number. There are several free sites which may give you general information about the number, such as the service provider and the city. However, if you want more detailed information about the unknown sender, you might have to subscribe to the service and pay a fee.
Approaching Cellular Service Providers
Text messages can be sent via websites. Therefore, the best alternative to obtaining the details of the sender is to get in touch with your service provider and ask for help. The service provider will make sure that you want the details for genuine reasons. After confirming that you are really receiving unwanted SMS regularly from a specific number, your service provider may provide you with the details. They may even provide the data of any entity whose number you may not be able to view on your mobile phone.
Law Enforcement Agencies
If you are not able to trace the sender of the SMS even after using all the above-mentioned methods, the last option is to take help from law enforcement forces. File a report about the unwanted texts that you receive from the unknown number. The law enforcement department will certainly be able to track the sender of the SMS.
Note: Some procedures involve using third-party software, which means you might have to jailbreak or root your own or your target's phone. Tracking a phone might not be legal in all states. You should check the laws for the state you reside in prior to trying this.
These were some methods that can be used to track the communication activities of a specific phone number. Note that if the case is serious, like finding a missing person, it is better to inform the authorities in your area.