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Recovering text messages from AT&T directly  

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ahoog
(@ahoog)
Junior Member

Good morning,

We've completed an iPhone investigation for an individual hoping to recover deleted text messages unfortunately the person was a heavy user and about 6 weeks had passed by. My question is this does anyone have knowledge of a process individuals (or an attorney they hire) can go through to recover the message from AT&T directly? I believe they keep messages for some period of time. Thanks all..

For those interested in the high level feedback I give to people wanting to recover deleted SMS messages on the Apple iPhone, you can review my post at

http//viaforensics.com/iphone-forensics/recover-deleted-text-messages-sms-apple-iphone.html

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Posted : 10/07/2009 9:38 pm
seanmcl
(@seanmcl)
Senior Member

You may not be able to. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act excludes e-mail service providers from civil subpoena. If their account is an AT&T wireless account, they may be able to refuse any request for communication that isn't from law enforcement.

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Posted : 10/07/2009 9:48 pm
4n6art
(@4n6art)
Active Member

I would check with AT&T as to what their retention time is first before you go through the hassle. I believe retention times are very short - or non-existent in some cases. If they have already cycled their backups, you maybe at a loss.

-=ART=-

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Posted : 10/07/2009 11:04 pm
jmech
(@jmech)
Junior Member

The information I have heard from others is that AT&T does not store text message content. Most other providers only store text message content for about 3 to 7 days after it was sent, depending on the service provider.

Its a long shot, but you may want to check out the computer the Iphone was synced with (if possible), to see if anything was archived there at some point.

Joe

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Posted : 13/07/2009 7:29 pm
PaulSanderson
(@paulsanderson)
Senior Member

Think I know what's coming next.

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Posted : 07/07/2016 2:57 pm
sgreene2991
(@sgreene2991)
Member

The information I have heard from others is that AT&T does not store text message content. Most other providers only store text message content for about 3 to 7 days after it was sent, depending on the service provider.

Joe

I can vouch for this from the LE side. ATT, along with the vast majority of providers, do not store the content of SMS or MMS. You can get the transaction, but the content can't be recovered from them.

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Posted : 08/07/2016 2:16 am
BChaseAZ
(@bchaseaz)
New Member

The last I checked, Verizon was the only carrier that stored content of text messages, and they only store them for 7 days.
Every other major carrier stores the meta data (to, from, date and time) and they typically say they keep that information for 6 months. However, I have found carriers to keep that kind of data for much longer.

If these text messages were to another iOS device, don't forget to check iMessage. I have successfully recovered deleted messages by using an individuals laptop connected to iMessage.

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Posted : 11/07/2016 5:41 am
meso
 meso
(@meso)
New Member

The only way AT&T will have any content of text messages is if the account holder is using AT&T's cloud-based message backup service. Other than that, they do not retain text message content. I'm not sure if a civil subpoena would be adequate for that, but it's worth a shot.

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Posted : 14/07/2016 8:37 pm
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