The short answer is, it depends. It really all depends on where the phone logs are coming from. The boundary of ownership generally affects how personal data can be obtained, even sometimes in the case of a subpoena. Here are some situations where we can get phone logs and ones we cannot.
When we can obtain phone logs
We can almost always get phone logs when you are the owner of the account, whether business or personal. If you own a cell phone or a cell phone account with many phones, most providers will retain call logs for a certain period of time. To learn about each specific carrier and the length they keep phone data, click here.
It has been reported to our clients that some carriers refuse to provide account holders with phone logs of their own accounts. If this is the case, we may be able to assist by a request to higher management on official company letterhead. For situations where this demand fails, the easiest alternative is to acquire records directly from the device that was used, even if they have been deleted. Records can be forensically pulled from the device to provide you an idea of who was contacted on what date.
When we cannot obtain phone logs
If we can get phone logs when you are the account holder than the opposite must be true of non-account holders, right? Well, not so much. There are many situations in which we can obtain phone records from providers, legally and lawfully, under certain circumstances.
If a consent release is signed (and notarized) by the individual who owns the account, we will likely have little issue obtaining records. The only situation in which we are sometimes prevented from obtaining records is when the service provider refuses themselves.
Sometimes, and I say sometimes, the possibility exists to obtain phone records with a subpoena or court order. There are many situations in which service providers have outright refused an order by a court, and they did so lawfully. Privacy laws often dictate that service providers can refuse subpoenas and court orders. You can read more on an opinion by AT&T here.
Disclaimer: Spectre Intelligence routinely gets calls about obtaining phone logs without going through legal channels or without obtaining the consent of the account/device owner. This is unlawful and cannot be done by anyone, ever. Anyone who tells you they can do this is likely committing a felony and should be reported to the appropriate authorities.
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Spectre Intelligence is a private investigation and intelligence firm located in sunny Round Rock, TX (Austin area). If you need investigation or cybersecurity services, visit us at www.spectreintel.com and www.spectretechnology.com