Have you every received a text message on your cell phone from someone you don’t know? You’ve already checked the number and don’t recognize it yet the person keeps sending you text messages. These messages can range from a simple wrong number or spamming to threats or harassments. Depending on the reason behind the unknown sender there are various options to tracing a text message on cell phones.

Picture of an original iPhone cell phone.Get your phone that is receiving these text messages and follow the instructions following.Credit: By Carl Berkeley from Riverside California [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

First get the number sending the text message. Go into your text messaging program and either scroll to the end of the message or view the “sender” information when viewing your list of recent text messages.  Write down the number.


Go online and use any free search engine to type in and search for the number. In some cases you’ll get lucky and find identifying information about the number, especially if it is a business or has been previously reported for spamming or harassment. You might need to try different search engines and sites in order to find out any information which will take a little bit of savvy sleuthing. 


You can also use reverse number services that allow you to look up information about the number. There are many services online, simply search for “reverse number look up” and choose one that offers free information.


Enter the number into the look up service database and search the database. In some cases you’ll find out basic information like the service provider of the number and a relative location where the number may be coming from. Usually for a small fee you can pay for more information up to and possibly including the name and address which the number is registered under. 


You could also text the number back or be even bolder and simply call the number to find out who it is. If no one answers the voicemail may give some clues. However, you should use extreme caution with this method. If the messages are threatening or harassing you may want to keep the messages in your phone, not reply to them, and if you are in danger go to your local law enforcement with the offending messages.