8 Red Flags Someone’s Tracking Your Cell Phone
Is someone following your every move? Here’s how to tell—and how to put a stop to it.
Your cell phone is a prime way for hackers to track your location or spy on your personal information. Tracking your location through the GPS on your phone may seem harmless, but hackers can use this information to find out where you live, your shopping habits, where your kids go to school, and more. Once they have your information, they can sell it or use it to steal your identity. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of these subtle signs that your phone is being tracked.
Your phone gets really hot
If you find that your phone has been getting unusually hot lately, it may be a sign that it has been hacked. Spyware running in the background can make your phone work harder and subsequently put out more heat, says Russell Kent-Payne, director and co-founder of Certo Software, which specializes in mobile spyware and stalkerware detection. Of course, there may be other reasons for this, and if you determine that tracking isn’t the issue, try these 7 easy ways to cool down an overheating phone.
Your battery drains quickly
Look for sudden changes in the amount of time it takes for your phone’s battery to run out. A tracked phone will be continually sending data from the phone to the hacker, which makes your phone use more power and will deplete the battery much quicker than normal, says Kent-Payne.
Your monthly data usage is inexplicably higher
Check your phone bill every month and see if you are suddenly using more data than normal. A tapped phone uses a lot of data because it is continuously sending information back to the hacker’s phone or computer.
Your phone reboots unexpectedly
“If your phone, out of nowhere, starts rebooting, it might mean that your phone is being tracked,” said David Lukić, an information privacy, security, and compliance consultant at IDStrong. The malware on your phone is interfering with its normal functioning, essentially making it glitch out and restart randomly.
Your phone takes a long time to shut down
If your phone is taking longer than normal to shut down, this could be another sign of spyware. “When a phone shuts down, it has to complete any tasks that are currently in progress,” explains Kent-Payne. “This could include data being sent remotely to a hacker—which would dramatically extend the time required to shut down.”
Your phone has been jailbroken or rooted
Jailbreaking (for iPhone) or rooting (for Android) is the process of removing manufacturer restrictions in order to gain access to areas of the phone that would normally be protected. It is a practice commonly used by hackers in order to install spyware. “It can be difficult to spot, but look out for a strange app called Cydia (for iPhone) or SuperUser (for Android) suddenly appearing on your home screen,” says Kent-Payne. Here’s why you should be worried about your cell phone catching a virus.
You’re hearing background noise or electronic interference
“If you’re hearing background noises coming from your phone such as echoes, static, or clicking sounds, this may be a sign that someone is listening in on your calls,” said Kent-Payne. This one is pretty rare since most newer tracking software is completely quiet, but it is still something to look out for.
Your cell phone is slower than normal
Frustrated with how slow your phone has become all of the sudden? Every phone gets slower over time, but according to Lukić, if you encounter this problem alongside others on this list, it might be a sign that your phone is being tracked. If this problem is occurring independently of other issues, try these easy ways to speed up your cell phone.
What to do if your phone is being tracked
The first thing you should do is reboot your phone. “As simple as this seems, tracking apps and spyware rely on the phone being left switched on for long periods of time,” says Kent-Payne. “Simply restarting your phone means that many of them will no longer be able track you.” Next, run a scan with a reliable spyware removal app, like Malwarebytes or Bitdefender Total Security, and turn off location sharing when you’re not using it to ensure you aren’t sharing your location with a third party unwillingly. Finally, update your phone if it hasn’t been updated recently to be sure that it has the most recent security patches, and delete any apps you don’t recognize. Speaking of which, if you still have these apps on your phone, someone may be spying on you.