In short, the answer is no, text messages cannot be obtained by private investigators. The reason for this is due to its illegality. Simply put, text messages are considered the same as phone calls in terms of privacy, and listening to someone's phone calls is illegal.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) protects the privacy of your text messages along with any other wire, oral, and electronic communications while those communications are being made, are in transit, or when they are stored on computers.
Having worked with the security departments of many major cell service providers we know that text messages and other cell data can only be obtainable in limited situations.
For example, if a person is under criminal investigation, the police can obtain text messages and other data from the phone carrier in order to build a case against them. They can only do this If a court issues a subpoena for the phone records and have the subpoena served to the service provider The service provider can then have its security division unlock the messages.
Trying to obtain cell phone records for a non-criminal investigative case will likely never happen. In fact, there are very few documented civil cases where this has actually been granted. Your best bet is not to bother.
Instead, follow an experienced private investigator’s advice on what else you can do to obtain evidence for your specific case. Chances are there is a plethora of other information that will adequately support your case. Legal surveillance, background checks, and interviews are just a few ways an investigator can gather specific support information to build your case.
If you have any specific questions about this topic or would like to discuss your case with one of our experts, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help.