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How to recover deleted text messages

Discussion in 'Divorce, Separation, Annulment' started by pbeck, Jun 20, 2017.

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  1. pbeck

    pbeck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    I am trying to get information on how to receive transcripts of deleted text messages. My service provider, AT&T, is advising me that it is not passible, that content of text messages is not received. I am aware however, of text messages being used in court cases around the world on a nearly daily basis as evidence.

    It is essential that I get copies of these messages. How do I go about this? How can AT&T tell me they do not keep records when they do? if I subpoena them through the court will they be forced to give me the information? When calling AT&T directly I can not even get someone to transfer me to their legal department so I can speak with someone directly about this.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If you are on a pay as you go AT&T account, text messages can't be recovered.
    A court subpoena forces service providers to do a deep dive to recover some, maybe all, of the text messages.
    You must, however, be the account owner to obtain deleted text messages.
    On some devices, you can recover deleted text messages yourself, if you are tech savvy.

    Gophone users no you cannot obtain copies of your messages and what they say.

    If you are on a contract phone using Google Chrome web browser go to www.att.com/messages.

    Of course, AT&T wants to get paid by you to enable this backdoor way to revive dead messages.

    Each phone on the account has to sign in for its own messaging account and the first time is authorized on the phone.

    After then you can sign in on another device and a code is sent to the original phone.

    Maybe, I said maybe, you might be able to see every word in those text messages.

    Another option:
    ...
    ..
    How Can I Get a Copy of Text Message History From AT&T?
    ..
    ...

    There are also various apps that claim to be able to do what you're asking about. YMMV
     
    leslie82 likes this.
  3. hrforme

    hrforme Active Member

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    do you have access to the actual phone? if not, I would say it is virtually impossible without some type of backup or sync to the cloud installed prior to the text creation and access to that account online. If you do have access to the phone, it seems like there are things you can do with the SIM card to possibly retrieve them.
    Recovering Deleted Text Messages

    One other article I ran across (but concerns divorce cases and you didn't state the reason you need a copy although this was posted in the D,S,A forum ) : 4 Steps to Acquiring Text Messages by Subpoena in Divorce Cases

    I think those that you are finding that are using texts as evidence are those people who didn't ever delete the texts in the first place or who find them from the secondary party (who got the text?) But I doubt that you will win against AT&T in court -- they fight pretty dang hard against releasing anything they do not have to and honestly from the 2nd article it states that even if they are kept it is for a very short period of time and only prospectively once required.
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The text messages can be obtained, as AT&T does retain them for quite some time.
    Even with a court order, the process takes time.
    I've issued a couple orders for murder, sexual assault, and child sexual assault cases; and they take anywhere from six to eight weeks, give or take, to come back.

    There are certain apps that permanently destroy the messages much like Mrs. Clinton destroyed her emails.
     
  5. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    I will say here the same thing I said elsewhere.

    Even if you are correct that "text messages (are) being used in court cases around the world on a nearly daily basis as evidence", (and I have my doubts that you are) that does not mean that (a) all those messages had been deleted or (b) that AT&T was the carrier. If Xfinity or Sprint is able to provide the text of an undeleted message, that doesn't mean that AT&T can provide the text of a deleted one.
     
  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Well...I would hope it obvious that the overwhelming majority of "text messages [that are] used in court cases around the world on nearly [a] daily basis as evidence" are messages that either the sender or the recipient saved and or printed, and not deleted messages.

    Well...I assume someone opened his or her mouth and spoke. That's how, but I doubt that's what you intended to ask. The better question is why do you assume "they" do keep records of your text messages? Also, are you under the impression that your service provider has an obligation to you to archive your communications?

    Then you shouldn't have deleted them.

    If you serve a subpoena, the company will likely respond that, while it has records that indicate messages were sent/received, it has no records regarding the content of any such messages. I don't know, as a matter of fact, if that's correct, and I'm hardly an expert regarding the technical issues involved her. However, as a legal matter, a court is going to take a witness at its word if the witness says it has no responsive documents unless some other party can prove the witness is incorrect. All you seem to have is speculation and conjecture.
     
  7. pbeck

    pbeck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you both for your reply.

    The phone was badly broken, and I am unable to use it. I have the logic board out of the phone but I do not know if it is still in working condition. All of the text messages in question were deleted from the phone. I know that recovery software could be used to get copies of the messages if I could get the phone to at least power on.

    The account in question is my own, the text messages I am requesting were send and received from my personal phone - not just one of the account. It is not a go-phone, but an actual contract account.

    As far as I know there is no cloud backup that was ever created or used for the phone. I have accessed the att.message function, but it only allows you to go back to the date the service was started, and sadly that is outside of the timeframe I need.

    What apps can be used? I know of recovery software, such as Dr. Fone, but I did not think that was considered an app. Does the app have to be used on the phone in question?
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I'd rather not say for reasons that should be apparent.

    There are people that can advise you further.

    However, if your device has been damaged severely, nothing might be recoverable.

    I have represented a few sketchy characters in the past over criminal matters that mysteriously had unfortunate accidents with their electronic devices. One person claimed these misfortunes with eight such devices.

    You might visit an AT&T store, contact the manufacturer of your device, or visit one of the many local "phone repair" stores.

    I recall reading somewhere a few eeks ago that AT&T advised its customers to initiate their own text and email backup services. AT&T claimed they were no longer going to back up text messages. A friend of mine said it was to avoid long, protracted legal battles.
     
  9. pbeck

    pbeck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    cbg - Thank you for your response. I do understand that each carrier is different, and that just because 1 may be able to provide something, it does not mean another can.

    zddoodah - I meant no disrespect in my question. I was not aware that my question would offend you, I certainly did not do so intentionally.

    I understand that I should not have deleted the messages. My statements (or assumptions) were taken from information gained from new articles like the ones listed below. The Bryant rape case specifically says the provided was AT&T. They go on to explain how messages are indeed kept on servers, and that simply deleting a message does not mean it can't be retrieved.

    Text Messages Urging Suicide Result In Involuntary Manslaughter Conviction

    USATODAY.com - Text messages may turn up in Kobe Bryant case

    The second article seems particularly relevant as it talk specifically about deleted messages.

    I did not come here to fight with anyone. I am simply very frustrated at the fact that I can not even seem to get a representative at AT&T to provide me with a phone number, address, email...anything for their legal department. If I indeed get information, in writing, from AT&T that the messages I am requesting can not be retrieved then I will re-evaluate my options, but this method seemed the most logical to me.
     
  10. pbeck

    pbeck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Army Judge - Thank you - I will contact a local repair store and see if they might be able to assist.

    I understand that if these records are somehow available, they will not be easy to get. I was more hoping to find guidance on a starting point. And perhaps someone with more knowledge than me on how these things actually work.
     
  11. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I forgot to ask, is this an iPhone or an Android?

    IPhones are easier, if its iPhone, I may be able to help you now.
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    iCloud doesn't back up texts everywhere, and for all phone operators.

    If that applies to you, you need to go to step 2 to find out.

    1. Log in to iCloud.com with your Apple ID and password

    2. Click on Text Messages (if it isn't there your messages haven't been backed up).

    3. If it is there searched the messages to find the ones you need.

    4. Now go to your iPhone and choose Settings, iCloud on your iPhone. (Yeah, that might be a problem, but if you have an OLD iPhone, you might be able to soldier on.)

    5. Turn off Text Messages (or ensure it is turned off). I know this sounds counter-intuitive but stick with me, mate..

    6. You should see a pop-up. Select: 'Keep on My iPhone'.

    7. Now turn back on text messages.

    8. Tap 'Merge', and wait. After a few minutes the deleted text messages should appear back on your iPhone.

    Okay, mate, see if that helps.
     
  13. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If the above method failed, you can try two other options.
    Try recovering deleted text messages via an iTunes backup.

    Unless you disabled the automatic sync option in iTunes, you should have created a backup everytime you synched with your PC or Mac.

    1. Connect your iPhone to the PC with which you sync it. iTunes should open (if not, open it manually).
    2. You should see your iPhone appear. Select it.
    3. Now choose 'Restore backup'.
    4. All the data you previously backed up will now replace the data on your phone. It will take a few minutes. As long as you haven't backed up subsequent to deleting those messages, they should now appear on your phone.
     
  14. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    3rd-party app effort
    If the options above haven't worked, it is time to go nuclear.



    I've never used any of these, but a there are some third-party apps that appear to have a good online reputation: PhoneRescue by iMobie, WonderShare Dr.Fone for iOS, Tenorshare iPhone Data Recovery.

    Because even after you have 'deleted' messages they remain on your handset until overwritten, you should be able to recover deleted messages using these utilities (and others) - but there are no guarantees.

    That might be a problem for you, as your device seems to be vaporized.

    Another way I can verify works for recovering iPhone text , iOS Data Recovery can help , no matter what deleted data you can restore, photos ,music, contacts, and other files are supported ,

    You can get more info from Tunesbro
     
  15. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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  16. pbeck

    pbeck Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I do have an iPhone. This was actually an iPhone 4 I believe (maybe a 5, but I don't think so).

    All of your methods require me to actually be able to get the phone to power on. So I have to cross the bridge first.

    as far as I know the phone was never synced to iTunes. My husband and I share an iTunes account. It uses his email address, and anything he purchased I could load onto my phone.

    For the iOS Data recovery, you are saying no matter what it was it can be restored? I am worried about actually being able to recover from some programs because the phone, when it was active, was always giving me "out of space" messages. I was worried this might mean that deleted things, like texts, might have already been overwritten. Will the iOS recovery get around that?
     
  17. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Give it a shot.
    If it won't work, you'll see the response immediately.
    If it does, you'll also see that quickly.
     
  18. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Your best bet is to recover directly from the device. If you can get it to power on then you can access everything by USB from a computer.
    Just because something was deleted does not mean it was destroyed. It is likely still there but marked as available free space. So long as nothing has overwritten that space in the time since it was deleted you should be able to recover it.
    I wouldn't attempt going through the service provider unless direct access to the device is completely ruled out.
     
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  19. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    Service providers would have no way of permanently storing billions of text messages and no reason to. This was explained to you in the other forum but it seems like you don't want to listen.

    Why are these messages so "essential"? How are they related to a divorce?
     
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  20. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If that's true, my friend, its unnecessary these days.

    Divorces are easier to obtain than are drivers licenses.

    Divorces are also without fault, can't be denied, and a decree can issue in as few as 30 days in many states.

    The other option available to people is just walk away.

    If you don't plan to remarry, and who would if they've been burnt, you can simply disappear without explanation or further recrimination.
     

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