Help me unerase a phone message
December 17, 2007 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I deleted an important message from my answering machine. Is there any way I can unerase it? The machine in question is Panasonic KX-TG6051B. There is a secondary question below.

Basically, the caller left a phone number and I accidentally hit the wrong button and it was gone. Alternative to retrieval of the message, figuring out the originating phone number could be helpful. I called the phone company and the customer service told me that unless I have a caller-id, that information is not available. I find that hard to believe. Is it really the case that I cannot get the caller's number unless I have a caller-id (or hit *69 for last caller number retrieval in the US) ?
posted by eebs to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm no expert on the Panasonic answering machine, but for the most part when you delete a message from these -- especially the tapeless kind -- they are gone. It isn't like a hard drive on a computer where you could use another program to read the contents. Voicemail services offered through the phone company do have ways to undelete messages.

And the phone company has never made calling information available to consumers except through pay services like caller ID and *69. Of course they have such records and would give that to law enforcement if you asked them to in the case of harrassment, etc, but not under other circumstances. One of the added benefits of ditching a landline and using a cellphone exclusively is you get a record of missed calls either on the phone, or online on the bill itself.

I hope they call back since that's the only way you'll get the person's number.
posted by birdherder at 8:49 AM on December 17, 2007

It's too bad that it wasn't a cell — since you're charged for incoming calls as well, they would have shown up on your cell phone bill.
posted by WCityMike at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2007

If the data is stored to flash memory, it is remotely possible that someone with the right tools could extrac the message from your answering machine. You will need to find someone with experience in this area, and I don't know how you would do it.

If you know any exceptional hardware hackers who enjoy a challenge, they could tell you whether this is possible or not. They will need to attach clips to the flash chips (assuming the chips are mounted in a way that makes this possible) and dump the contents of the flash memory to a hard drive. Then, they can analyse away. There is a very good chance that your answering machine stores audio in a standard encoding format.

To increase the chances of your message being recoverable, turn your answering machine off now. Every piece of new data written to it makes recovery less likely.

You also might want to ask this question on a few message boards where electronics hackers hang out.

Best of luck.
posted by zippy at 11:47 AM on December 17, 2007

If no one else has called you since then, *69 may be the cheapest and most effective way. The only other way (that I've been able to determine) to get a number on a landline is if it's a harassing phone call in which case you have to go through lots of bureaucracy.
posted by perpetualstroll at 11:57 PM on December 17, 2007

Response by poster: thanks so much for the answers. even though we could not retrieve the message (or the number), the person called back (which was very unlikely for reasons I did not mention). whew.
posted by eebs at 10:54 PM on December 18, 2007

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