If you’re a concerned parent or just needed some important information from a deleted text, you might be wondering how to view text messages on AT&T bill.
Unfortunately, AT&T does not, under any circumstances, include text message records from any mobile phone on your plan in a billing statement.
However, there are certainly ethical ways to recover and view old text messages, and even sync them back to your phone.
By and large, most services won’t deliver you a paper printout of your text message history.
However, once you have access to the text message data, you may then use your own home printer to create a paper copy of the text messages.
With regard to obtaining and viewing SMS text messages, take the following into consideration:
- Whether or not you have the legal authority
- How old the text message is
- Whether or not you backed it up
- Whether or not a service provider backed it up
- Software and apps that make carbon copies of data
Let’s take a closer look at how these considerations affect real-world solutions, as follows:
No, you cannot get a printout of the content of text messages on your bill from AT&T.
The only information you have access to is the metadata, including the date, time, source number, and destination number of the message.
If you want a hard-copy printout of text messages, the only way you can create a printout is by backing up your text messages and printing them off on your own.
You cannot access other people’s text messages, even if they’re on your plan, with one notable exception.
The only exception is if you install parental controls and monitoring apps to see what your children are texting. Otherwise, you only have legal access to your personal data.
How to View Text Messages on AT&T – Possible Options
One of the more obvious methods of obtaining old text messages is using the myAT&T service. Customers can log in online to view old text messages stored in the cloud through the messages.att.net portal.
As I’ll mention a couple more times throughout the guide, you can only see old text data up to 90 days old, because that is as long as AT&T saves the records.
- Sign in to your AT&T account online.
- Click on My AT&T and Messages and Email.
- Choose Select Account Type and then Wireless.
- Enter your phone number and password.
- Click on the Data tab.
Note: Once you log in and see your text messages, you can then take print screens or copy/paste the data to have paper-copy records.
Though AT&T will never disclose any SMS data from mobile phones on your plan in a billing statement, AT&T does maintain records of your text messages for 90 days if you willfully choose this option.
AT&T has a feature called Backup Messages and Sync, which is relatively straightforward and easy to configure, as follows:
- Browse to Settings.
- Select Messages Backup & Sync.
- Optionally print out text messages from your phone.
All of your text message data is stored by AT&T in the cloud, so you can access this backup data from other devices too.
Understand that this option will save your old text messages longer than 90 days. In fact, it will store them indefinitely, as long as you leave the backup option enabled and have a backup file stored in the cloud.
Note: Remember that you can opt-out of the AT&T Backup and Sync feature any time you want.
People who want to read text messages from any mobile phone on their service plan typically want to snoop around.
Concerned parents want to see what their children are texting, and who they are texting.
Sometimes people want to know what their significant other is texting. Other times people want a printout of old text messages because there was a crucial and invaluable piece of information that is currently lost.
However, to get access to these kinds of records, the only way to get AT&T’s records of text message content that you haven’t personally backed up is to have an attorney obtain a court order or subpoena.
If the courts subpoena a service provider, the courts can legally obtain old text messages.
But unfortunately, it isn’t always possible. Phone carrier servers typically only keep old text message data from 3 days to 90 days. After that time period, the data may be completely deleted.
I highly advise against trying to use mobile spy software to illegally obtain text messages from other adults.
There are programs, some of which act like viruses and keyloggers, that not only record text messages but also keystrokes on the phone’s digital keyboard.
Conversely, I do think that there are ethical reasons to monitor a phone’s text messages and history. If you are a parent, it’s important to the safety and well-being of the child to have someone looking over their should to provide protection.
Believe it or not, there is an entire market for mobile parental control software that monitors your children’s text messages.
Not only do most of these apps monitor raw SMS data, but they also support monitoring messaging systems on other platforms, such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
Some popular parental control and employee monitoring software include Bark, My Mobile Watchdog, and Mobile Spy.
I cannot advocate secretively invading someone else’s privacy, but I do think that in the context of parental control, monitoring text messages has its merits.
Android is, of course, designed and managed by Google. It only makes sense that Google would create a way to back up your SMS data to Google Drive.
If you don’t already have a Google Drive account, they’re free and automatically created when you make a Gmail account.
However, note that free Google Drive users get 15 GB of data. If you want or need more, you have to pay Google a fee. Nevertheless, it’s empowering to have manual control over your backup data.
If you wanted to, you could download, encrypt, and copy your backup to personal media, including flash drives, cloud storage alternatives, or personal external hard drives.
The following steps allow you to backup Android phone messages, and other types of data too:
- Press the settings button.
- Press Google, Backup, and Backup now.
- Your backup data is accessible in Google Drive’s main menu.
Read Next: How to Switch from AT&T to T-Mobile?
The previously mentioned steps should give you adequate guidance if you were wondering how to view text messages on AT&T bill.
Last but not least, I would advise you to consider why you want a record of text messages on your AT&T mobile plan if the text messages weren’t sent to your phone or originated from your phone.
Remember, it is illegal to hack into someone else’s phone and read their SMS text messages.
Kevin has over five years of experience working in various Tech startups and providing Technical solutions. He has contributed to many Tech publications and websites.