Suppose you sent a series of text messages that perhaps you shouldn’t have; how do you go about permanently deleting those incriminating texts? Well, what seems impossible is actually possible by simply using your phone’s menus, restoring factory settings, or adding an app.

It Is Possible to Permanently Delete Text Messages

Yes, there are measures you can take in permanently deleting incriminating texts. If you are using an iPhone, you can sync regularly after removing an SMS message. Within the messaging app, select Edit, then you can isolate messages or just remove that contact from the messaging interface altogether. Another step you can take is to turn off messages in the Spotlight search or, last but not least, restore the phone to its original factory settings, which will cause all prior messages in the phone to be deleted.

But Doesn’t Deleting Text Messages Eliminate Them?

You might think deleting an incriminating message destroys it completely. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Text messages can remain on your phone until they are overwritten by other data. However, if you follow the steps above, all the messages will be deleted from your device – but are the deleted messages really gone? No. Some cell phone carriers keep records of text messages and phone records. Sprint, for instance, will keep them for two weeks, AT&T for about 48 hours, and Verizon not at all. Congress, however, is trying to make it a Federal law for more carriers to retain text and phone records longer, claiming that these records could be useful in criminal investigations.

Other Solutions for Permanently Deleting Incriminating Texts

If you don’t feel comfortable doing a system restore on your own, and if you’re in the market for a new phone and want to sell your current one, PC World recommends a phone reseller as a handy source for obtaining a new or used phone. A reseller will do a full factory reset/restore of any used phone they receive, and will also dispose of old SIM cards. This is a pretty extreme solution to permanently deleting incriminating texts, but it’s nice to know there are companies on the Internet who offer this service. Another possible solution is to install an app such as TigerText, which will allow you to delete incriminating texts or other data. Available for iPhone, Android, and Windows devices, this app applies a lifespan to messages. Once this lifespan is reached, texts that are no longer being referenced designated as “self-destructing messages,” and they’re deleted.

So you really can control what does and doesn’t live on in your phone, just by becoming familiar with the menus of your device and being more conscientious about data maintenance. That’s something we should all do when we want to keep private what’s on our personal cell phones.


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