Can a Text Message Be Traced?

Updated April 17, 2017

If you're receiving text messages from a phone number that you don't recognise, you may be confused and wondering who's been texting you. This can be even more frustrating if there isn't an answer when you try to call the number and the person texting you won't tell you their name. Even more frustrating is when the number a text comes from is "Unknown." This makes it clear that the person texting doesn't want you to know who they are. Luckily, there are options when it comes to tracing text messages.

Service Provider

Contact your cell phone service provider. They may be able to give you a report that includes information about the text messages you've received, including their sources. Until you're able to find out who's been messaging you, ask to have the specific number blocked. You can also consider changing your phone number to stop the unwanted texts. If you do this, consider having your phone number blocked so people won't be easily able to attain your new number.

Directory Search

You can use a reverse directory search to find the name of the person who's been texting you. This is a good option if there's been a phone number associated with the text messages. Type the telephone number into the reverse directory website. If you're not able to get the name of the person, you'll at least be able to see their cell service provider and what town or city the phone number's from. This may help you narrow down who has been texting you.


If you're being harassed or stalked via text, contact your local police department to file a report. The police should be able to track down anonymous phone numbers, particularly if the person used an anonymous website to send the texts. Anti-cyberstalking laws make harassing text messages punishable by law.


While it may be tempting, it's not a good idea to respond to threatening, harassing or unwanted text messages. Often, any response, even a negative one, is enough attention for the sender to continue contacting you. Instead, contact the appropriate people and let them handle the situation. In the meantime, try to ignore the text messages and not get upset at what they say. You may also want to keep a log of all contacts from the sender.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

As a full-time writer in New York's Hudson Valley, Lindsay Pietroluongo's nightlife column and photos have appeared regularly in the "Poughkeepsie Journal" since 2007. Additional publications include "Chronogram," the "New Paltz Sojourn," "About Town" newspaper and "Outsider" magazine. Pietroluongo graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in English.