One of the nice things about using texting apps (such as TextFree, TextNow or Text+), is that they grant you a certain degree of anonymity.
You’re able to disguise your phone number, and prevent people from figuring out who you actually are – at least at first glance.
But can texting apps be traced, and is it possible to find out who is behind them? If so, how is it done?
In this article, we’ll cover everything that you need to know.
Can Texting App Numbers Be Traced?
Let’s say somebody was determined to figure out who you are, but you’re using a free texting app. Is it possible for them to trace the number?
It depends. While the average person will not be able to trace a number from texting apps, it is still possible for law enforcement to figure out who is using it.
This is because the company behind the app likely keeps permanent logs of each number’s usage. Because apps like TextNow are sometimes used for unethical or even illegal purposes, the apps may be required to keep information about who was using each number.
Some of this information may include:
- The registered account information when signing up for the app.
- Logs related to usage of the number (when it was used, what was said, what numbers were texted.)
- The IP and geolocation of the device when the app was used.
- The device’s unique identifier (UDID).
- When the phone number was registered to your account.
Even if you sign up with a fake email and use a VPN every time you use the app, this may not protect you completely. Due to unique information tied to each device and the phone’s reliance on nearby cell towers, it is extremely difficult to remain completely anonymous while using a phone.
Can Texting Apps Be Traced By Police?
Yes, texting apps (like TextFree and TextNow) can be traced by police, if their is a valid court order present.
Thankfully, texting apps will not give up information freely to anybody that asks. If there is a court order however, they may be compelled to give up all of the information they’ve collected – and rightly so.
This means that police and other law enforcement ages will be able to trace a number to its original user, should they wish to do so.
In the United States, resources are spread thin and it’s unlikely that police will go to great lengths to retrieve your TextNow or Text+ data unless you have been accused of committing serious crimes.
However, you should assume that everything you’ve done within third-party texting apps have been saved and permanently stored, with no way to remotely delete that information.
Obviously, we do not condone the actions of those partaking in unethical or illegal behavior. Police can go surprisingly far to identify people should they wish to do so, so you should avoid using texting apps for nefarious behavior – they will not protect you.
If you have been the victim of harassment or you’re attempting to prosecute somebody who you believe is using a fake number, be sure to bring these concerns up with your attorney.
Can TextNow Messages Be Recovered If They’ve Been Deleted From Your Phone?
Let’s say that you’ve had important text messages through an app like TextNow or Text+, but they’ve been deleted from your phone. Is there anyway for these texts to be recovered?
It depends on your phone. If your phone is fully encrypted (which is default by modern iPhones for example), then the data is likely unrecoverable.
If it’s not encrypted, the deleted data will still exist on your phone’s internal memory – it just won’t be visible to you.
This data can be overwritten by filling your phone’s storage completely full with new data. On Android, there are some tools that are able to assist with this.
However, even if the data has been overwritten on your phone to the point where it can never be recovered, the data may still exist on the app’s servers.
Because this is a stored on their hardware, there is nothing you can do to delete it.
While GDPR (for residents of Europe) and CCPA (for California residents) may give you more control over how your data is stored, these may not be sufficient to have the data removed if you are under investigation.
Can You Find Out The Owner Of A TextNow Number Without Going Through Police?
No. TextNow claims that they are unwilling to give out the identity of people behind phone numbers, due to privacy concerns.
This is a default policy for companies like TextNow, and is honestly for the best in most cases.
People use texting apps like TextNow for a wide variety of cases – the overwhelming majority of them perfectly legitimate. It would be a huge breach of privacy for companies to freely give out information about their users to anyone that asks for it.
As mentioned earlier, TextNow may share data with law enforcement should they receive a court order to do so.
Is There An Untraceable Text App?
Untraceable messaging apps are available, but none of which offer you a fake or disguised phone number.
Instead, they require the other person you’re attempting to message to also own and use the same app. Typically, these applications use user IDs in place of phone numbers.
Some notable examples include:
These services are designed specifically for security, and may not be able to hand over any data even if they wanted to – because they don’t collect or store any of it.
They are often used by people living under dangerous regimes, where the ability to communicate freely is difficult.
Most texting apps follow the same policy – they do not give up information about who is using their numbers to anybody that asks.
However, if they receive a court order, they are likely to comply with law enforcement to the degree that they’re able.
I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any other questions about texting apps, please ask them using the comment form below.
Thank you for reading,
– James McAllister