How to Know If Your Phone Is Being Tracked Or Monitored (2023)

Table of contents

  • How to know if your phone is being tracked
  • Increased data usage
  • Charged battery drains rapidly
  • New, unknown apps on your device
  • Phone works slower than usual
  • Phone freezes or abruptly turns off
  • Background noises in calls
  • Battery runs hot
  • Coded text messages
  • How to know if your phone location is being monitored
  • Update location-sharing for your phone apps
  • Confirm location-sharing is off for maps, chats, and other apps
  • Check your phone for suspicious apps
  • Audit your phone battery usage
  • Review your sharing settings on Find My for Apple devices
  • Try a specialized security app
  • How to prevent your phone from being tracked
  • Don’t jailbreak or root your phone
  • Keep your phone’s operating system up-to-date
  • Disable app installations from unknown sources and developers
  • Be cautious with unknown or unexpected texts
  • Regularly review location-sharing settings
  • Delete old, unused, or unknown apps
  • Regularly check battery life and usage
  • Use an anti-spyware and phone security app
  • FAQ
  • How can I tell if my phone is ghosted?
  • How can I tell if someone is pinging my phone?
  • How do I know if someone is stalking my phone?

How to know if your phone is being tracked

Look for these common signs that your device is being monitored or may be hacked by spyware.

Increased data usage

Spyware apps regularly eat up your data. However, in the age of unlimited data plans, few of us bother to check how much data we actually use on our mobile devices. If you suspect that your phone may be tracked, it’s smart to begin keeping an eye on your data.

How to check data usage for iPhone

  1. Go to Settings → Cellular or Settings → Mobile Data
  2. Scroll to see the apps that use cellular data. When enabled, the toggle next to the app will be green. When mobile data is disabled, apps use only Wi-Fi for data.
How to Know If Your Phone Is Being Tracked Or Monitored (1)

How to check data usage for Android

  1. Go to Settings
  2. This step depends on your device type. Look for either Connections → Data usage → Mobile data or Network & Internet → Mobile network
  3. Scroll to find App data usage
  4. Click to get more information for each app

Pro tip: If you are an Android user, you can easily limit the amount of data background apps can use with Data Saver. To turn this on, select Settings, tap Network & Internet then toggle on Data Saver.

Charged battery drains rapidly

Many spyware apps require a surprising amount of power. If your phone struggles to hold a charge, it may be a sign that your phone is running background tracking from a known app or perhaps stalkerware.

New, unknown apps on your device

If you catch a new, unfamiliar app icon on your phone, this could be the result of spyware. Spotting unauthorized apps on your device can sometimes be tough — especially if you have a lot of apps on your phone. We recommend periodically reviewing all the apps on your device under phone Settings.

Phone works slower than usual

Is your phone suddenly slowing way down? Device speed is determined by a few factors, including age, available RAM, and update-status. If your phone is being tracked or monitored, the responsible apps can eat up your available RAM and slow down the phone significantly or even freeze or crash it.

Phone freezes or abruptly turns off

Related to issues with the phone slowing down, when your phone’s RAM gets overloaded it can freeze or even spontaneously crash. If this is happening to your phone and you’ve ruled out other causes, like damage or an out-of-date operating system, it could be a sign that your phone is infected with spyware.

Background noises in calls

Are you suddenly aware of some added noises in your calls — even when you are in a quiet space? While this is usually not the only sign of infection, your phone may be tracked or traced with stalkerware.

Battery runs hot

Related to excessive RAM usage, spyware can cause your battery to overheat. If this is happening in conjunction with other symptoms in this list, it’s time to take steps to check your phone for spyware.

Coded text messages

This one can be either a phishing scam or possible stalkerware. Beware if you receive strange texts with links or coded messages from unknown numbers or at unexpected times (e.g. a surprise text message from the IRS — hint: they’ll never text you!) Never click or engage with these texts. If you believe your phone is being monitored, take steps to identify and remove the spyware app.

How to know if your phone location is being monitored

If you’re concerned with location tracking, here’s how to locate spyware on your iPhone and Android.

Update location-sharing for your phone apps

Within Settings on your device, you can and should regularly review and revise your location-sharing settings for all your apps. This ensures that only applications you regularly use and trust can access your phone.

How to manage location-sharing on iPhone

  1. Open Settings Privacy on your device
  2. Select Location Services
  3. To turn off location sharing for all apps easily, toggle Location Services off so it is greyed out
  4. To turn off location sharing by app, scroll down through the list to see which apps use location on your iPhone, once you find an app you want to adjust, tap it
  5. For each app, you will be taken to a screen with Location Access preferences — Never, Ask Next Time Or When I Share, While Using the App, or Always — select the setting you want
  6. Here you can also toggle on or off Precise Location
How to Know If Your Phone Is Being Tracked Or Monitored (2)

How to manage location-sharing on Android

  1. Open Settings → Location on your device
  2. To turn off location sharing for all apps easily, toggle Location access off so it is greyed out
  3. To turn off location sharing by app, select App access to location
  4. Scroll down through the list to see which apps use location on your phone, once you find an app you want to adjust, tap it
  5. For each app, you will be taken to a screen with Location permission — Allow all the time, Allow only while using the app, Ask every time, or Deny — select the setting you want

Confirm location-sharing is off for maps, chats, and other apps

Certain apps, like those for transport, maps, delivery, step trackers, etc., are more likely to have location settings continuously engaged. Make sure these apps are only tracking your location when in use..

Check your phone for suspicious apps

Spyware usually appears on your phone as unknown, unauthorized, or suspicious apps. To review the apps on your device, you will need to carefully examine the apps as they appear within your Settings on your iPhone or Android.

Audit your phone battery usage

When you check your phone, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any apps that consume an unusual amount of excess energy.

How to check your battery on iPhone

Reviewing battery usage for iPhone is easy: Go to Settings → Battery, then scroll down to see the usage breakdown by app.

How to check your battery on Android

The process is similar for Android: Go to Settings → Battery, then tap Battery usage. Here you can review recent usage and force quit apps.

Pro tip: If you think you may have an old battery or there may be an issue with your battery, you can get diagnostics for your battery on iPhone by clicking Battery Health within your battery settings.

Review your sharing settings on Find My for Apple devices

To help rule out potential spyware on your device, go ahead and check who can see your device. For details, review how to check location tracking for Find My.

Try a specialized security app

Your best bet from a phone security standpoint is an all-in-one mobile privacy and protection tool. VPN features are especially effective at helping to mask your data traffic and location.

For details about checking your phone for unwanted tracking, check out our complete guide on how to check your device for spyware and stalkerware.

How to prevent your phone from being tracked

Once you’ve verified that your phone isn’t currently being monitored or you’ve re-secured your phone after an attack, here’s how to stop your phone from being tracked.

Don’t jailbreak or root your phone

Jailbreaking (for Apple) and rooting (for Android) remove manufacturer restrictions built into the device. While there are specialized reasons to do this, jailbroken and rooted devices are at a much higher risk for viruses, malware, spyware, and other malicious attacks. Clario’s anti-jailbreak feature ensures your device always maintains it’s factory-safe settings.

Keep your phone’s operating system up-to-date

This one is pretty straightforward — as threats and security compromises are uncovered, Apple and Android take steps to patch or prevent the vulnerabilities in the operating system. Limit threats of spyware on your device by keeping your operating system updated. To ensure you’re always running the latest version, we recommend enabling automatic updates.

Turn on or off Automatic Updates for iPhone or iPad

  1. Go to Settings → General
  2. Tap Software Update
  3. If you see an available update, tap Download and Install
  4. To enable automatic iOS updates, tap Automatic Updates
  5. Be sure that both Download iOS Updates and Install iOS Updates are toggled on
How to Know If Your Phone Is Being Tracked Or Monitored (3)

Configure Automatic Updates for Android

  1. Go to Settings → About phone
  2. Find the menu for System update, tap Settings
  3. Enable Auto-download over Wi-Fi

Disable app installations from unknown sources and developers

Both Apple and Google go to great lengths to have specific security requirements for apps in their stores, ensuring greater user device safety. Most of the apps you will likely have on your phone are official, authorized software.

Sometimes people decide to download apps from untrusted sources, for beta testing or trying out a brand new app. However, turning off this security measure on your phone can open your device up to a host of security threats.

How to turn off untrusted app downloads on iPhone and Android

The default setting on iPhones will not allow you to download apps from untrusted sources. So, unless you have specifically disabled this feature yourself, you are protected.

If you have disabled this Apple protection using Xcode or another third party app, follow the instructions outlined by the third-party app.

Here’s how to turn off untrusted app downloads on Android.

Be cautious with unknown or unexpected texts

If you’ve received a surprise text from an unknown number or Apple ID, beware — it could be a phishing or a hybrid spy-phishing scam. In these situations, the text may contain strange messages, urgent calls-to-action, or links that entice you to reply or tap.

Regularly review location-sharing settings

When you enable location-sharing for an app to access all the features, don’t forget to turn it off again. It’s common to leave permissions on when you don’t need to.

Set a regular reminder to review your location settings by following the instructions for how to update location sharing above.

Delete old, unused, or unknown apps

Running a device with loads of old, unused or even unknown apps is a security risk, especially if you don’t keep them all up-to-date. Check your device apps regularly and remove ones that you no longer use.

Regularly check battery life and usage

Phone battery health and usage can tell you a lot about what’s happening on your device, even if you don’t notice it. For example, in addition to helping you identify if any unknown apps or spyware could be eating up your charge, it’s also a great way to keep an eye on all your apps. If you accidentally set location-sharing to “always on” for your food delivery app, your battery might help you catch the mistake.

Use an anti-spyware and phone security app

As we mentioned earlier, the number one option for securing and protecting your device is a total privacy and protection tool for phones. Expert security apps, like Clario, are loaded with many tools to keep your device protected.

For more details on hacking prevention for your mobile devices, check out our complete guide to how to prevent your phone from being hacked.

As we increasingly rely on mobile devices for personal projects, remote work, business communications, and more, risks from malicious phone attacks are on the rise — with as many as 97% or organizations facing mobile threats in 2020. In addition to practicing good security hygiene as outlined in this article, a powerful antivirus app like Clario delivers total protection and peace-of-mind.

FAQ

How can I tell if my phone is ghosted?

Ghosting is when someone abruptly cuts off contact without warning or communication. This may be confused with spoofing, which is when someone uses your email or phone number to hide their own contact information. Hackers and cyber criminals may use spoofing to trick your contacts or people in your area code into answering their calls or texts.

The FCC provides some tips for what to do if you think your number is being spoofed.

How can I tell if someone is pinging my phone?

Pinging is an essential technology for many apps who rely on location technology to work properly. It works a bit like breadcrumbs for the apps to follow. It’s a safe and legal technology — as long as you have enable location-sharing for those apps.

It becomes unsafe, however, if your phone is tracked or monitored without your consent, as with spyware or stalkerware. If you suspect you may be tracked without permission, follow our steps for how to manage your location-sharing and stop phone tracking.

How do I know if someone is stalking my phone?

Stalking apps are called spyware and stalkerware. Forms of tracking apps are often used legally to keep track of employees and minors. More nefariously, however, some cybercriminals use spyware to hack vulnerabilities in existing apps to gain access to your phone usage and location.

While there is no definitive way to know for sure that you’re being monitored, there are a number of common symptoms that may mean your phone is being tracked.

FAQs

How to Know If Your Phone Is Being Tracked Or Monitored? ›

Go to Settings – Applications – Manage Applications or Running Services, and you may be able to spot suspicious looking files. Good spy programs usually disguise the file names so that they don't stand out but sometimes they may contain terms like spy, monitor, stealth, and so on.

Is My phone being monitored or tracked? ›

Go to Settings – Applications – Manage Applications or Running Services, and you may be able to spot suspicious looking files. Good spy programs usually disguise the file names so that they don't stand out but sometimes they may contain terms like spy, monitor, stealth, and so on.

How can I tell if my phone has a spy app on it? ›

How to Check for Installed Spyware on Phones
  • Go to Settings.
  • Tap on Biometrics and security.
  • Tap Install unknown apps.
  • Check if any toggle switch button is enabled.

How do you know if someone is tracking your phone? ›

How to Know if Someone Is Tracking Your Phone
  • Unknown Apps. When using your phone, you should look out for applications that you don't remember installing. ...
  • Excessive Background Data Usage. Try to frequently monitor the background data usage of your device. ...
  • Browser History Mismatch. ...
  • Battery Drain. ...
  • Abnormal Reboot.
Apr 13, 2023

How do you know if someone can see you through your phone camera? ›

For Android
  • Open your Settings app.
  • Tap Privacy.
  • Tap Permission manager.
  • Tap Camera.
  • Review the list of apps with access and remove any you don't recognize.
Jan 31, 2023

Does *# 21 tell you if your phone is tapped? ›

You can find out if your phone has been tapped using unconditional data forwarding with the help of MMI codes. On GSM networks, dial *#21# to list, and ##21# to clear your unconditional data forwarding settings. CDMA network customers can view and modify these settings too by dialing **21*.

How do I know if I have hidden apps or spyware? ›

How to Find Hidden Apps in the App Drawer
  1. From the app drawer, tap the three dots in the upper-right corner of the screen.
  2. Tap Hide apps.
  3. The list of apps that are hidden from the app list displays. If this screen is blank or the Hide apps option is missing, no apps are hidden.
Jan 24, 2023

What are spy apps disguised as? ›

Spyware often accompanies programs that are disguised as useful software, such as download managers, registry cleaners, and so on. Sometimes, it comes packaged with video games. It may even come packaged in a software bundle with real, useful programs.

What do I dial to see if my phone has been hacked? ›

Code to verify if your phone is being tracked

Hackers can easily track the location of your phone. Use these codes if you suspect cybercriminals are tapping or tracking your Android — enter *#*#4636#*#* or *#*#197328640#*#* via the dialer pad.

How can I check if my iPhone is being tracked? ›

How can you tell if someone is spying on your iPhone?
  1. Your phone gets really hot. ...
  2. Your battery drains quickly. ...
  3. Your monthly data usage is inexplicably higher. ...
  4. Your phone reboots unexpectedly. ...
  5. Your phone takes a long time to shut down. ...
  6. Your phone has been jailbroken. ...
  7. You're hearing background noise or electronic interference.
Aug 9, 2022

What is *# 62 code used for? ›

*#21# - By dialling this USSD code, you would get to know if your calls have been diverted somewhere else or not. *#62# - With this, you can know if any of your calls - voice, data, fax, SMS etc, has been forwarded or diverted without your knowledge.

How do you know if you're being spied on? ›

Some of the most obvious signs you are being spied on include: Someone seems to always be “bumping into you” in public. As if they always know when and where to find you. During divorce or separation, your ex-partner knows more details than they should about your activities, finances, or other details.

Can anyone see what I'm doing on my phone? ›

Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” There are a number of spy apps that can sit hidden your phone and record everything you do. The snoop can watch every detail of your life and you'll never know. We're going to take a look at what spying apps are on the market and how they work so you know how to stay safe.

Can someone watch me through my iPhone? ›

Yes, a partner, parent, or even employer can gain remote, real-time access to your iPhone using spying software. Spyware can track your GPS location, record your keypad inputs such as credit card numbers and passwords, and monitor your calls, texts, app usage, emails, voice, and other personal data.

What happens if you dial *# 31? ›

Hide Caller ID: *31#

The caller might have hidden the ID intentionally or sometimes it can be accidental. If you want to hide the caller ID dial *31# and press call button.

What does it look like when your phone has been tapped? ›

A telltale sign that your phone is tapped is when you see apps you're sure you didn't download. The same is true if you suddenly find unwanted popups and spammy ads, even when you're not actively browsing the web. While this is common for Androids, iPhones are not exempt.

What is * * 4636 * * Android secret codes? ›

*#*#4636#*#* Displays information about the phone, battery, and various network statistics.

Can your phone be monitored remotely? ›

Both Android and iOS phones can be subject to malicious software capable of tracking your location, reading your texts, and listening in on phone calls.

What does hidden spyware look like? ›

You'll see a small teardrop symbol in your phone's notification bar when an app is using your device location. If you see this appear when you're not using apps allowed to access location data, this could indicate spyware is running and tracking your location.

How do you check for any hidden apps installed in iPhone? ›

Unhide apps on your iPhone or iPad
  1. Open the App Store app.
  2. Tap the account button , or your photo or initials, at the top of the screen.
  3. Tap your name or Apple ID. ...
  4. Scroll down and tap Hidden Purchases.
  5. Find the app that you want, then tap Unhide.
  6. To return to the App Store, tap Account Settings, then tap Done.
Nov 8, 2022

What apps should I not have on my phone? ›

Unnecessary Mobile Apps You Should Remove from Your Android Phone
  • Cleaning Apps. You do not need to clean your phone often unless your device is hard pressed for storage space. ...
  • Antivirus. Antivirus apps seem to be everybody's favorite. ...
  • Battery Saving Apps. ...
  • RAM Savers. ...
  • Bloatware. ...
  • Default Browsers.

What are spy apps disguised as on iPhone? ›

In this case, a spyware program can pretend to be an update for a reputable app you have previously installed on your iPhone. For example, it can be disguised as a banking app update; therefore the hacker can steal the user's banking credentials and other personal data that might be on the app.

What does * 21 *# mean? ›

When you dial *#21#, you are, in fact, activating a feature access code that quickly tells you the status of call forwarding for your phone. It's a quick way of seeing what, in the case of this particular 'setting interrogation code,' your call forwarding settings. That's it, nothing more or less.

Can we check if my phone is hacked? ›

Poor performance: If your phone shows sluggish performance like crashing of apps, freezing of the screen and unexpected restarts, it is a sign of a hacked device. Unrecognised apps: If you notice any unrecognised applications downloaded on your device, it could be the work of a hacker.

How do you know if someone is tracking you? ›

How to know if your phone is being tracked
  • Increased data usage. Spyware apps regularly eat up your data. ...
  • Charged battery drains rapidly. ...
  • New, unknown apps on your device. ...
  • Phone works slower than usual. ...
  • Phone freezes or abruptly turns off. ...
  • Background noises in calls. ...
  • Battery runs hot. ...
  • Coded text messages.
Feb 10, 2022

How do I know if my iPhone is bugged? ›

How to Know if Your iPhone is Being Tracked? Check This!
  • For someone to monitor your phone's activity, they need to install spyware. ...
  • Fast Battery Drainage. ...
  • Strange Noise During Calls. ...
  • More Data Usage. ...
  • Random Phone Shutdowns. ...
  • Strange Messages in the Inbox. ...
  • Slow Speed. ...
  • Overheating.
Jun 25, 2022

What is * 74 on your phone? ›

Establish a short list of up to eight numbers, or a longer list of up to 30 numbers. To program your Speed Calling 8 list, dial *74. Listen for the dialtone, then dial the one-digit number (2 through 9) you would like to use to dial a frequently called number.

What is * 82 phone code? ›

This Vertical Service Code, *82, enables calling line identification regardless of subscriber preference, dialed to unblock withheld numbers (private callers) in the U.S. on a per-call basis.

What does * 73 mean on a phone? ›

All calls: Call *72 + new number. Only when busy/no answer: Call *71 + new number. Turn off forwarding: Call *73. You can also watch this video to learn how to set up call forwarding.

What does a listening bug look like? ›

Listening bugs are always very small because they're designed to be hidden and unnoticeable. Every listening device will appear slightly different, but they'll usually look like the following: Very small and round, usually no more than 0.5 inches (1cm) Black or silver plated, with a hole in the center.

How do I find a hidden microphone? ›

Look for decorations on the edges of the room that are angled awkwardly to face into the room. Hidden microphones will work best when they're in the center of a room, so they can hear everything equally. Look for decorations positioned on a table in the middle of your room to find hidden microphones.

Can someone read my text messages from their phone? ›

Yes, it's definitely possible for someone to spy on your text messages and it's certainly something you should be aware of – this is a potential way for a hacker to gain a lot of private information about you – including accessing PIN codes sent by websites used to verify your identity (such as online banking).

Can someone connect to your phone without you knowing? ›

Can Someone Access My Phone Remotely? Yes, unfortunately, people can access and even control your phone remotely. There are plenty of spyware apps and bugs that let people hack into your phone without you even knowing about it. It's usually through certain links or credentials that hackers do this.

Can someone mirror my phone without me knowing? ›

Technically, screen sharing software does exist for Android and iOS devices, but you'll need to grant permission before any mirroring occurs. Also, most applications of this type make it fairly obvious when you're sharing your screen.

Should I cover the camera on my phone? ›

While covering a smartphone camera could help mitigate a threat, Yalon cautions that no one should ever feel truly secure. “The microphone and tracking abilities, as we demonstrated in our new research, contain yet another set of concerns,” he says.

Does the orange dot mean someone is listening? ›

According to Apple, with iOS 14 or later, an orange dot means your microphone is being used by an app. But it doesn't necessarily mean anyone is listening in. But if you're worried about it, you can deny microphone access by going to Settings, Privacy, and Security and selecting Microphone.

Can I check my iPhone for spyware? ›

If you're concerned that someone may have installed spyware on your iPhone, run a quick scan with the award-winning Certo AntiSpy. This industry-leading spyware detection tool finds threats and helps you to remove suspicious apps and spyware from your iPhone.

How do you know if your iPhone is being monitored? ›

How can you tell if someone is spying on your iPhone?
  • Your phone gets really hot. ...
  • Your battery drains quickly. ...
  • Your monthly data usage is inexplicably higher. ...
  • Your phone reboots unexpectedly. ...
  • Your phone takes a long time to shut down. ...
  • Your phone has been jailbroken. ...
  • You're hearing background noise or electronic interference.
Aug 9, 2022

How will I know if my iPhone is monitored? ›

How Do I Know if My iPhone Is Supervised or Managed? On your iPhone, navigate to Settings and select General. Then tap About. If your phone is supervised, you should see a message informing you “This iPhone is supervised and managed by [company name]“.

Can someone see what I do on my phone through WiFi? ›

Because it does not require authentication, a public WiFi Internet connection means hackers might be able to see your data. Not only that, but the Wi Fi router's administrator might see what sites you use and could sell your data. Therefore, do not visit websites with sensitive information if you're on public Wi-Fi.

Can you tell if your iPhone has been tapped? ›

Strange sounds during a call

If the user hears a strange crackle, noise, echo, and other strange sounds that were not there before, this may indicate that a wiretap has been put on the phone.

Can iphones be monitored remotely? ›

Yes, a partner, parent, or even employer can gain remote, real-time access to your iPhone using spying software. Spyware can track your GPS location, record your keypad inputs such as credit card numbers and passwords, and monitor your calls, texts, app usage, emails, voice, and other personal data.

Can someone see your text messages if you use their Wi-Fi? ›

Messages you send through Wi-Fi using messengers and other chat apps won't be readable by the Wi-Fi owner. Most messengers and chat apps use end-to-end encryption to secure text messages. End-to-end encryption encrypts your texts on your phone before they are sent over the internet.

Can another phone access my phone? ›

Yes, unfortunately, people can access and even control your phone remotely. There are plenty of spyware apps and bugs that let people hack into your phone without you even knowing about it. It's usually through certain links or credentials that hackers do this.

Who is tracking my internet activity? ›

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can see everything you do online. They can track things like which websites you visit, how long you spend on them, the content you watch, the device you're using, and your geographic location.

References

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