Is my cell phone tapped?

Have you had your cell phone tapped?

Whether you just have nosy neighbors, an overzealous partner or maybe even someone stalking you there is a real possibility that your cell phone is bugged. Your location, text messages and even voice conversations can easily be recorded and sent to others without your knowledge. Personal details like your bank account information along with the passwords for your email and social media accounts can be obtained as well. What used to be dismissed as paranoia and conspiracy theory is now a very real threat to your privacy and security.

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The first step to protecting yourself from the prying eyes or ears of an unauthorized listener is to understand not only how to detect their methods but also how it is possible for them to spy on you. While technology has made our lives easier in many situations it has also made tapping your cell phone easier for those who intend on using it for devious purposes. The days of hidden microphones and wiretaps are becoming a thing of the past. Currently it is easier to spy on people with the use of software which can be installed remotely so that the person watching you doesn’t even need physical access in order to bug your cell phone.

Recent revelations by whistle blowers like Edward Snowden have brought to light technology which allows your phone to appear as if it is turning off when in fact it stays on and the microphone can be used to monitor any sounds within hearing distance of your cell phone. While you may not be worried about what the NSAs intentions are for this ability we must acknowledge that like anything else that exists these days it is only a matter of time before this software ends up in the wrong hands giving criminals even more access to your personal information.

So how can you tell if you’ve had your cell phone tapped?

How to know if you’ve had your cell phone tapped.

Before you invest in bug detection equipment there are a few things that you can do in order to determine the probability that you’ve had your cell phone tapped. Here are some simple tests that you can perform in order to detect the most common types of cell phone bugging. With less sophisticated and commonly available cell phone surveillance software you may notice these warning signs if you’ve had your cell phone tapped.

  • Unusual sounds during calls

Have you recently noticed that there are clicking sounds, static or distant voices coming through your phone during conversations? This is not normal for phones as the transition to digital networks years ago should have eliminated all of the above. If you are hearing them now there is a good possibility that you’ve had your cell phone tapped.

  • Decreased battery capacity

Another indication of a bugged cell phone is reduced battery performance. If you’ve had your cell phone tapped it is recording your activities and transmitting them to a third party. This will leave a footprint behind in the form of increased battery usage. If you want to find out if you’ve had your cell phone tapped try using your battery in another phone of the same model and compare the results. Is your phone using more battery power than a phone of the same model and software? If so then your phone is either bugged or defective.

  • Your phone shows activity when it is not in use

Has your phone been making noises or lighting up its screen when you are not using it? Outside of call and message alerts your phone should be silent when not in use. That is of course unless you’ve had your cell phone tapped. Does it reboot for no reason at all? These may be signs that someone has remote access and that you’ve had your cell phone tapped.

  • Cell phone takes a long time to shut down

A smart phone is a lot like a computer. Before it shuts down it must complete any tasks that are currently processing. If your cell phone has been tapped and is transmitting data to someone it will have to complete the process before it shuts down. If your phone takes longer than usual to turn off especially right after you complete a call, text, email or web interaction then it may be sending your information to some third party. There is a good possibility that you’ve had your cell phone tapped.


Is my cell phone bugged?


Signs that you have had your cell phone tapped

If want to know how to find out if your cell phone is tapped you can test for irregular interference with other electronic devices.  A cell phone that has been bugged or otherwise tampered with may cause audible or visual distortion of nearby speakers and monitors. By performing a few simple tests you can get a better indication of whether or not you have had your cell phone tapped.

Before we give an explanation of how to check for these signs of cell phone tapping it is important to understand why they happen in the first place. This will help us to avoid false positives and get more conclusive evidence of a cell phone that has been tapped. Like any other theory or suspicion we should put ours to the test before jumping to any conclusions. While unauthorized surveillance is easier than ever for people to perform these days, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a victim of this act.

Most of us have heard strange noises coming from speakers when a cell phone is present at one time or another. This is less common now than it was ten years ago however. Previously GSM cell ones, the ones which use a SIM card, used a technology called TDMA or Time Division Multiple Access. Rather than bore the reader with technical terms let’s just say that TDMA caused a lot of this interference during normal use. Nearby speakers and CRT monitors acted as antennas and picked up signals from TDMA devices during normal use. Fortunately most GSM carriers no longer use TDMA so this is no longer a problem with rare exception as with cell phones which use the Nextel Iden system. Iden devices are being phased out and will most likely no longer be supported by 2013. Currently however you may still experience interference from Nextel phones, particularly Blackberry phones which are in close proximity to your speakers.

Just because you hear strange sounds from your speakers does not mean that you have had your cell phone tapped. If you do experience these noises you can investigate by operating your phone near said speakers and check under what conditions this event takes place. Try placing a call from a different phone such as your home land line and notice whether the sounds occur just before your cell phone rings. If that is the case this is most likely not an indication that your cell phone has been tapped. It happens under normal conditions when the phone receives a signal tell it that an incoming call is about to happen or that a text message will arrive. Once the phone is answered or the text message alert happens you should no longer hear sounds from the speakers. If you do it would be a good idea to perform additional tests to determine if you have had your cell phone tapped.

Who might want to bug your cell phone

If you want to know how to tell if your cell phone is tapped then you might already be suspicious of a certain party. It is possible that your cell phone is acting funny and that’s what prompted you to research the topic but maybe there is a different reason. Is there someone in your life who might want to check up on you or monitor your activities? The most likely suspects might be one of the following:

  • A parent monitoring their children’s phone activities
  • An employer
  • A current or former spouse or partner
  • A software publisher
  • Your own government

That last one is unlikely unless you are a suspect in some sort of investigation. If that is the case then you should cease your illegal activities and turn yourself in. Sooner or later you will be caught and crime does not pay. That said, what about the other people on this list?

If you are a minor then your parents may in fact have the right to keep track of who you are communicating with and many other activities that involve your cell phone especially if you they are paying the bill. As far as listening in on your conversations well, that may be questionable. If you want to stay out of trouble it is probably safe to assume that any court of law would side with them in the unlikely event that you tried to do something about it. In other words don’t do anything that they wouldn’t approve of unless you are prepared to face the consequences of your parents finding out.

If you want to know how to find out if your phone is tapped because you suspect that your employer is listening in on your calls then read on.  They may be doing so illegally. While employers do have certain rights when it comes to company equipment they are also obligated to respect the privacy of their employees all the same. At some point you should have been advised of any recording of or listening to conversations that you participate in. In fact, you should have been asked to sign a waiver at some early stage of your employment. This would have stated that you understand your employer’s policy regarding telephone conversations using company equipment. If you were never advised of this policy and you catch your employer bugging your cellphone you may be entitled to monetary compensation as well as having them prosecuted for violating your right to privacy.

A lot of people who were or are involved with the wrong person may want to know how to find out if their cell phone is tapped. This is definitely a legitimate concern as surveillance by a significant other is a common occurrence. In this case you should certainly collect any evidence that you are able to gather and use it to secure a restraining order as well as consider prosecution. Anyone who has the willingness to invade your privacy can easily progress to more invasive and possibly harmful activities.

Having your cell phone conversations bugged by a software publisher is unlikely. What is much more prone to occur is that a publisher has hidden spyware within an application which has been installed on your smartphone. In fact most people would be surprised to know that they agreed to allow this spyware to be installed in the first place. When installing new applications most of us neglect to fully examine the terms of service which are included by the publisher. They in turn collect data regarding our activities and sell this information to marketing companies. While some might consider this to be harmless it is rarely in our best interest to volunteer our browsing and buying habits to a third party not to mention allowing them to keep track of who we text and email and what we say. Since this is usually completely legal since we agreed to their terms there is only one thing that can be done about it. Do not install anything on your phone without reading the terms of service. In some cases software publishers do get in trouble for installing tracking programs without your permission as in the case of Carrier IQ so it is not out of the realm of possibility that this has happened to you although it is unlikely that you’ve had your cell phone tapped.

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