How to Trace a Cell Phone SMS

by Brian Cleary
my cell phone image by rafalwit from

Short Message Service, or SMS, is the texting component of cellular phones. SMS messages are limited to only 160 characters and the vast majority of them are mobile-to-mobile. Text messages that are sent mobile-to-mobile almost always contain "metadata" showing the phone number from where they originated. If your cellular phone does not show this information when you view a text message, contact your phone's manufacturer or carrier to research how to view this information.

Step 1

Collect the sender's phone number from your cellular phone. In most cellular phones, this information is clearly visible while you are viewing the text message.

Step 2

Enter the phone number into Google. This is a great way to do a rudimentary trace of a phone number. If the number in question has ever been published on the web or is related to a business, you will uncover that information.

Step 3

Conduct a database search for the phone number. There are many free database look-up services on the Internet, such as

Conduct a public records database search. These reports are usually more accurate and detailed, but will cost you some money for the report. Examples of these services are Accurint, US Search and LexisNexis.


  • Cell phone numbers can be spoofed. This means the number you're seeing as the sender's number is fake or manufactured. Make sure you do your due diligence before coming to a conclusion as to the identity of the sender.


  • Cellular records are normally not accessible by members of the public, so it is very possible you may not find out the identity of the sender.


Photo Credits

About the Author

Brian Cleary has been writing on technical topics since 2005. He is an experienced CompTIA A+ computer technician and expert in digital forensics. Cleary holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida and is a certified forensic computer examiner (CFCE).

More Articles