Cellphone Companies Typically Take 2-6 Weeks To Release Call Records That Could Help Catch Thieves

Here’s another good reason to know how to exploit the executive customer service system for your cellphone company: so you can give them to the cops. If your cellphone is stolen and you try to request call records to help you track down the thieves, making a request through grunt-level customer service can take two to six weeks. By then, the trail is probably pretty cold. But if law enforcement gets your request in to the right level, Sprint says they can turn it around within a “few hours.”

When crime called, cell phone was silent [The Red Tape Chronicles]
(Photo: Getty)


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  1. BK88 says:

    I work as a party barge driver and had my phone stolen from the
    dock. Called AT&T, “we see the same thing you see on the online
    billing.” Another rep from AT&T didn’t know how to decipher a code
    on a text message, read it verbatim as “InfoArt” instead of knowing it
    means “InfoAlert” which is a system message for something.

    Left the phone connected for the night, they even sent my fiancee a
    text message and then proceeded to call 3 local numbers. I’ve got names
    and addresses but so far, no call from the police on an investigation.

    Also, the rep didn’t know what sites had been visited, and AT&T
    logs all my internet as “sent” so the rep said maybe songs or videos or
    whatever. I really wanted to rip into her, but I refrained.

    Good thing is that my renter’s policy with the computer coverage
    covered my Treo 680. Got $399 plus tax, bought a refurbished for $79.


  2. mikecolione says:

    The problem is, only certain departments are allowed to process requests for call history, even from the police. The main concern is for privacy so even with a warrant, it has to be processed by the required department.

    On a side note, I work for AT&T and one of my phones disappeared with a foster child my mom took care of (she ran away), and the cops tracked her down within 3 hours because the phone registered with each tower on her journey. She ended up about 45 minutes away in a cab when they caught up with her.

  3. headhot says:

    I’m sure when the Feds come knocking with a request, (legit or not) they hand over everything with in hours.

    So I dont want to hear any bullshit about how it can’t be done.

  4. CurbRunner says:

    What a joke.

    AT&T HAS BEEN WILLING TO LET THE NSA TAP YOUR PHONE WITHOUT A WARRANT, yet they won’t help to expedite investigations that could prevent a consumer from being ripped off by someone who has stolen their cell phone.

  5. krom says:

    It only takes a couple hours at worst for call data records to be loaded into a data warehouse that can be searched by CSRs. I worked on exactly that sort of application for a major carrier about two years ago.

  6. mac-phisto says:

    why should they care? you’re paying the bill whether you made the calls or not.

  7. mikecolione says:

    So what you guys/girls are saying:

    If someone walks into a store and requests your cell info so they can locate the phone while claiming to be a cop gives us permission to release your info?

    What if it’s someone trying to steal your info so they can sell it, or something worse. Then the company would be at fault for releasing your info. The FCC passed the rules, now we all have to live by them.

    Oh, by the way, by mid November, you’ll have to show ID in a store to access your account, even to pay the bill. Guess you’ll want to complain about that too…. Well write to the FCC cuz they are requiring the carriers to do it….

  8. Ratty says:

    it is true: CSRs DO see exactly what you see online. Online is as accurate as our statements for current calls. And we cannot see the contents of a text message OR what websites you were browsing in your account information, period. It’s that way for privacy reasons.

    Seriously… you don’t want to just let anyone get current call information just for calling in and nkowing 4 numbers. All you need is the billing name, number, and the last 4 of the SSN. And then they would have full access to everything. We have no way to show that it wasn’t you with someone just calling.

    If you DO need call information for law enforcement, we are happy to provide the information TO law enforcement every time. The problem is that much of the time the police that say they will follow up to subpoena the call records never do.