Caller ID spoofing has been around for several years now and the controversy surrounding it has not waned. Call spoofing is the act of changing the phone number that appears on someone’s call display when you place a call to them. Instead of blocking or revealing your real number, you choose the number that is displayed.
Although it is still somewhat unknown to the general public, this type of service has continued to gain in popularity and is used by everyone from regular individuals to professionals, law enforcement, and even celebrities. It’s a tool that allows people to retain anonymity and keep their identity, or at least their phone numbers, private. Even when placing a call to someone that is familiar and trusted, there is a chance that the person’s telephone could be lost or stolen with your number contained on it. For celebrities in particular, this could be disastrous.
There are several providers that offer the call spoofing service to anyone. In addition to call spoofing, other services and calling features have been added over the years. Some of these include voice changing, call recording, SMS spoofing, personal Spoof Numbers, and, most recently, mobile applications.
SpoofTel, one caller ID spoofing provider, has recently released an iPhone application that allows you to use its service from your iPhone. Due to its controversy, it has not become available on the iPhone store but is still available for download on other sites. Although it is still fairly new, the application has already been downloaded by thousands of iPhone users.
Caller ID spoofing has appeared in various news stories over the years, typically related to some type of proposal to ban or outlaw the service. There is a lot of controversy surrounding call spoofing because it has been know in the past to be used by scammers. Certain individuals have used spoofing services for fraudulent and illegal purposes in the past. However, most providers have become quite successful at preventing scammers from exploiting their services and it has not been as large of a problem as it was in the past. As well, spoofing services are used by many individuals for a multitude of purposes. The majority of individuals use spoofing services legitimately.
With spoofing providers continuously producing additional services and features, it doesn’t look like caller ID spoofing is going anywhere any time soon.
This article outlines how to troubleshoot issues with sending and receiving SMS or text messages using the Messages application on the iPhone. If you are having difficulty sending or receiving MMS messages, see this article.
f you can’t send or receive text messages
- Check the top left corner of iPhone’s display to make sure you have a strong signal: If you don’t have a strong signal, try moving to a different location. If you’re indoors, try going outdoors or moving close to a window.
- Update to the latest iPhone Software. For more info, see Backing Up, updating, and restoring your iPhone and iPod touch software.
If you still can’t send or receive text messages:
- Ensure that you are first tapping in the text-entry field at the bottom of the screen (highlighted below) to bring up the keyboard. Until you begin typing, the Send button will remain grayed out.
- Power off iPhone, then turn iPhone back on. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button until the red slider appears. Slide your ﬁnger across the slider to turn off iPhone. To turn iPhone back on, press and hold the Sleep/Wake until the Apple logo appears.
- Make sure that every phone number in your contacts list includes an area code.
- Make sure Airplane Mode isn’t on. From the Home screen choose Settings, then turn Airplane Mode off.
- If you are trying to send a text message to multiple recipients and you type in each number manually instead of using the contacts list, make sure you tap return instead of space to separate each one. For more info, see Sending SMS messages require a valid 10-digit mobile number (United States).
- If you have recently ported your number from another carrier, please contact your current carrier to verify that the porting process has completed successfully.
Note: Both SMS and MMS support text messaging. If Show Subject Field is enabled in Settings > Messages > MMS > Show Subject Field, you can only send messages after you have typed content in the Body field. Until then, the Send button will be grayed out, and you will be unable to send the message. If you add text to the Subject and Body field you will automatically send via MMS. If you wish to send via SMS, not MMS, either type text in the Body field only, or disable the Show Subject Field option. The following table illustrates this relationship:
|Text in||Service Used|
|Subject Field only||Will not send|
|Body Field only||SMS|
|Subject Field and Body Field||MMS|
You may also see the message, “Error sending message”. Troubleshoot as above.
For more information on SMS, see the iPhone User’s Guide (you can also view the iPhone User Guide with your iPhone: tap Safari, then Bookmarks, and then iPhone Users Guide).
I’ve been getting barraged with so many requests to help folks retrieve deleted text messages from their iPhone backups that I decided to write a small utility to help out — fumbling around with a text editor was a little daunting for some.
Those using Windows can download my iPhone SMS Retriever here.
[Update 09/23/2009] – there have been many reports of installation problems. Thank you to those folks who have reported the issue — I’m working on an update to the utility within the next week to fix this problem. Thanks for your patience and understanding. I’ll keep you updated here.
Here’s how to use it:
- Download and unzip the file
- First, run the SQLite Setup.exe file — this is a pre-requisite for iPhone SMS Retriever to work.
- Second, run the iPhone SMS Retriever Setup.exe file
- The app will install and run. It will appear under your Programs as iPhone SMS Retriever
- You do need to know how to get the iPhone SMS backup file so you can point the app to load it. If you need help locating this file here’s some help — please read carefully as this step is where most folks get hung up:
- First, connect up your iPhone, run iTunes (if it doesn’t autostart), and start a sync. iTunes should say “Backing up iPhone…” or something to that effect. Let the backup process finish.
- If you’re running Windows XP: go to the c:\Documents and Settings\[your username]\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\ directory. There will be at least one directory with a very long and cryptic name — this is the backup directory that contains all the backup files from your iPhone. If you see more than one of these directories that’s fine — it just means you have several backups, each from a different time and/or iPhone on your computer. Go into the backup directory of your choice and locate the file 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28.mddata.Copy that file to your Desktop or some other easily remembered location.
- If you’re running Windows Vista or Windows 7: go to the c:\Users\[your username]\AppData\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\ There will be at least one directory with a very long and cryptic name — this is the backup directory that contains all the backup files from your iPhone. If you see more than one of these directories that’s fine — it just means you have several backups, each from a different time and/or iPhone on your computer. Go into the backup directory of your choice and locate the file 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28.mddata. Copy that file to your Desktop or some other easily remembered location.
- If you cannot find the Application Data or AppData directory make sure you go into the Tools menu in your Windows Explorer window, select Folder Options and be sure the enable Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
- Click the “Load iPhone SMS Backup File” button in the iPhone SMS Retriever app and select the file 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28.mddata you saved a few steps above.
- Voila! The messages in the file will appear in the window for you to browse.
This is a v1.0 app, I wrote it in about an hour, there are no bells and whistles, but you should find that it serves the basic function of loading an unencrypted iPhone SMS backup file and displaying all messages sent from/received by the iPhone in question and the date/time of the messages.
I’ll add more features over time — would love to hear your ideas for features to add. Finally, I’m providing this as a free utility, use it at your own risk and only on your own iPhone backup files or those of others only with their permission.
There was a bug in the original installer I posted. I have updated the download link in the following post to point to the new installer package.
iPhone 2.0 only: Want to save that string of flirty text messages for posterity (or evidence)? While there’s no super-easy way to get your SMS history off your iPhone, with some elbow grease it’s possible. While this method is a bit complicated and more proof of concept than anything else, let’s take a look at how you can FTP into your iPhone, transfer your text message database to your computer, and open it up in a spreadsheet application like Excel.
Nerd alert! This method requires a jailbroken iPhone and some FTP and DB skills. The end result does give you a spreadsheet-friendly file that includes your entire history of text messages in it, but no names of the people who sent the message (only the phone number). File this post under “proof of concept” instead of “must actually do.”
As per a helpful tipster, I tested Syphone , but try as I might, it would not see my iPhone (and, it’s Mac-only). If anyone knows of an iPhone application that saves text messages to your computer without going through this rigmarole, post it up in the comments and I’ll add it here.
Here’s one messy way to do it:
- Jailbreak. First, you’ll need to jailbreak your iPhone using these instructions (here’s the Windows user version). Make sure you install OpenSSH (here’s how) to make your iPhone accessible via SFTP.
- SFTP into the phone. Go to the phone’s network settings, and view the details of the active connection. Write down the device’s IP address. Using your favorite FTP client, SFTP into that IP address using the username
sms.db. Your text message database is located in
/var/mobile/Library/SMS/sms.dbon your iPhone. Download that file to your computer.
- Open the SQLite database. That
sms.dbfile is a SQLite database, which you can edit and view using free tools. Download one of those tools—the SQLite Database Browser—and install it on your computer. Open up the
sms.dbfile, and click on the Browse Data tab. Choose the
messagetable and you’ll see your SMS history, and it’ll look like this:
- Export to CSV. From the SQLite Database Browser’s File menu, choose Export > Table to CSV file. Save the resulting comma-delimited file, and open it using your spreadsheet of choice (whether it’s Excel or OpenOffice.org).
Now, the big problem with the resulting file is that while it includes the messages themselves, the name of each person who sent each message is not there.
(If any database wizards more hip to Apple’s DB structure know how to get that info there based on ID’s, I’m all ears.) Like I said—proof of concept. On closer inspection, it turns out that the “address” field displays the phone number of the message sender. Given that, you can easily grok who’s who (and add names based on that number into your spreadsheet).
You can also jailbreak your phone and download your voicemail messages this way. Is this living to geek instead of geeking to live? Yes it is. But I don’t judge how people get their kicks, so you shouldn’t either.