Can Private Investigators Get Cell Phone Records?

cell phone
Have you ever tried to identify the subscriber name that matched a telephone number? Of course you have. Dumb question. But securing the name, the carrier or the type of service — landline, cellular, VoIP or text-only — is not straightforward. You might dial a single number through Google Voice and get a non stop ring. Or call from a cell phone and get a recording that identifies it as a Verizon number that has been disconnected, changed or is no longer in service. Likewise, a phone number directory, may leave you confused. So . . . you are looking to hire a private investigator to get cell phone records. You may have searched all over the Internet and run into multiple sites that claim to provide copies of cell phone records. Here is the bottom line: Unless you are the owner of the cell phone in question or have specific permission or a court order to obtain the records, private investigators (or anyone else) cannot get cell phone records for you (unless you want to break the law, of course).  

Why cant a Private Investigator get Cell Phone Records?

Until about 2006, cell phone records could easily be obtained from hundreds of websites on the Internet for as little as $100. These websites would obtain cell phone records through “pretexting,” in which an individual would falsely identify himself or herself as the owner of a cell phone number in order to obtain confidential phone records. In 2006, pretexting was thrown into the spotlight when HewlettPackard hired private investigators to access the private phone records of board members and nine journalists. Four private investigators were later criminally charged with felonies. In 2007, President Bush signed the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006, which made it a federal felony to fraudulently acquire telephone records. The bottom line is that unless you are the owner of the phone number in question or you have specific permission or a court order, you cannot obtain someone else’s phone records. Unless, of course, you are willing to commit a felony . . . or hire someone else to commit a felony for you.