Can Someone Track My Phone Even if I Have Location Tracking Off?
Most people today can’t live without a mobile phone in their pocket. Everywhere they go, they absolutely must carry it with them or they will miss the most important phone call of their life or someone will post something monumental on social media.
The truth is that the world will keep spinning even if you don’t have your mobile phone with you.
However, what you should be worried about is who can see your phone’s location.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how can someone track your phone even if you have location services off on it.
- Find out here if you are being tracked by the government.
How to Turn Location Data Off on Your Smartphone?
Let’s take a look first at how to turn location data off on your mobile phone.
On Android Phones:
- Swipe down from the top of your screen
- Touch & hold the Location icon
- On the Location access, make sure that Access my location is toggled off
- Scroll down to Location Services
- Tap Google Location Accuracy
- Toggle Improve Location Accuracy on or off
On iOS Devices
- Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services
- Toggle Location Services off
Note that a lot of apps require location permission in order to function, for instance, Google Maps or Find My Device, so you may not want to use the nuclear option here and instead disable location data permissions for individual apps.
On Android Phones:
- Tap Settings on your home screen
- Go to Apps
- Tap Permissions or App Permissions
- Find Location and tap to open it
- Under Location Permissions, you will see all the apps on your mobile phone that will ask you for your phone’s location data. Simply toggle the slider on or off next to them to enable or disable location data for that app.
On iOS Devices
- Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services on your iPhone or iPad
- You will see a list of the apps installed on your device that you can share your phone’s location data with. Next to each app, you have four options for location tracking you can choose from: Never, Ask Next Time, While Using and Always. Choose Never if you don’t want to permit this app to use your location data.
- Check out this article to learn how an app tracks your location before and after.
How to Tell if Someone is Tracking Your Cell Phone Location?
Worried that someone might be tracking your cell phone?
Here are 8 tell-tale signs that someone has installed mobile spyware on your phone and is tracking your phone’s precise location:
- High Data Usage
If you check your monthly bill and see that you’ve had more data usage than is normal, this can be a sign of a hacker using y0ur cell phone to send back data to his own computer or phone.
- Battery Drains Rapidly
Another sign that someone is tracking your phone is if the battery is draining quicker than usual. This could mean that a hacker is sending data from your phone to his which in turn makes your phone’s battery deplete faster. Of course, if you have an older phone (say 2+ years), the battery will not be as good as it was when it was brand new.
- Phone Gets Hot
If a hacker has managed to install spyware on your phone, having this run in the background can make the phone heat up as it is working harder. Again, this could also be because of something unrelated.
- Unexpected Reboots
If you’re in the middle of doing something on your mobile phone and it suddenly starts rebooting, this can mean that you have malware installed that is interfering with the normal processes and the operating system.
- Takes a Long Time to Shut Down
In order for the phone to shut down, it first needs to shut down any processes and apps that it is running. If your phone is sending data to the hacker, this can mean that shutting it down will take longer than usual.
- Rooted (Android) or Jailbroken (iPhone)
If you’re seeing strange apps on your phone’s home screen, such as SuperUser (Android) or Lydia (iPhone), this can mean that a hacker has rooted (on Android) or jailbroken (on iPhone) your mobile phone, which they can use to install malicious software on it.
- Slower than Usual
While your cell phone will inevitably get slower over time, if you notice this happening relatively suddenly, this could also mean that you have spyware software on your phone.
- Background Noise or Electronic Interference
Finally, although modern spyware and tracking software will generally be quiet, sometimes you might hear buzzing, echo, static, or other electronic noise during phone calls and such. This can also be a sign that your phone is being tracked by hackers.
- Strange apps appearing
We already mentioned a few apps that might be a sign that your phone is being tracked, like Lydia for iPhone and SuperUser on Android. Of course, these aren’t the only such apps and if you notice any apps or software to appear on your phone that you know you didn’t install yourself, these are probably installed by a malware or spyware instead.
How to Stop Your Cell Phone From Being Tracked?
Whether for privacy or security, you might want to stop your phone from being tracked.
So how do you actually do that?
- Turn off your WiFi when in a public space
Public WiFi can be convenient and is free, but it isn’t entirely safe. In fact, it might be used by someone to collect mobile data.
To prevent this, you should turn off your WiFi while in a public place so it uses mobile data instead.
- Turn off the GPS and location sharing
While turning off location services is not a 100% sure way to prevent your phone from being tracked, it will still ward off most location trackers from doing this.
- Check your app permissions
We already mentioned that some apps will request your phone’s precise location to work properly, such as Google’s Find My Phone, Google Maps, or Apple Maps, which all require your real-time location.
However, there are many more apps that don’t really need to know your location and so you should go to the Settings and disable this permission for it.
Also, it’s a good idea to review the online privacy options for the app before you download and install it on your device to see what permissions it demands. If it is requesting a bunch of things, it’s not worth installing.
- Be careful what and from where you download it
Only download apps and mobile software directly from its manufacturer or an official store like Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store.
Installing apps from a third party carries a risk of also getting something extra like spyware or adware with it.
- Use a VPN
Finally, few things beat VPN when it comes to online privacy, so be sure to install it on your cell phone and use it when you want to hide your location.
Before you install a VPN, be sure that it doesn’t keep logs and that it prevents IP leaks. This is why it’s always better to pay for a VPN rather than use a free service, as they are much more secure.
As you can see, there are many ways for hackers or companies to track your phone. In this article, we explained why it’s important to be aware of this and more importantly, how you can prevent your phone from being tracked.
Hopefully, this will be useful to improve your online privacy and security while using your Android or iOS device.