How would you feel if someone were spying on your every move, possibly listening to your conversations, and maybe even accessing your personal data without your consent? Would you even know if that were happening to you? We recently received this intriguing email from Marybeth of Wilmington, Delaware: 

“Is there a way to determine if someone has installed tracking software on your phone? 

– Marybeth, Wilmington, DE” 


This is such a great question, because the last thing you want is for the wrong person to know your every move. Sharing your location with people from your cell phone should happen with your consent and only with people you trust, not creeps who have found sneaky ways to track you. 

Detecting tracking software on your phone 

First, let’s answer Marybeth’s question right off the bat.  Yes, there are some ways to determine whether someone has installed tracking software on your phone. Here are some signs that you can look for: 


Could someone be tracking me on my cellphone? 

The truth is that, yes, your phone can be tracked. Sometimes, unsavory characters will find ways to hack into your device to see where you’re going. Other times, you might have apps on your phone that are tracking your location in the background without you even realizing it. 

Whatever the case may be, there are ways that you may be able to tell when someone has hacked into your device and is tracking you. 

Common signs someone has hacked into your device and is tracking you  

Strange or inappropriate pop-ups: Nonstop pop-ups, especially bright, flashing ads or X-rated content, are a big indicator that your phone has been compromised. 

Texts or calls not made by you: If you notice texts or calls from your phone that you didn’t make, you may have had your phone hacked. 

Higher than normal data usage: If your phone behavior has stayed the same, and your data usage has skyrocketed, it’s time to investigate. 

Apps you don’t recognize on your phone: If you notice new apps popping up once you already own the phone, there may be malware involved. 

Battery draining quickly: If your phone use habits have remained the same, but your battery is draining more quickly than normal, hacking may be to blame. 

Seeing an orange or a green dot appear: These orange or green dots would show up at the top of your phone screen, indicating that someone could be listening to you or recording you. To find out more about this, click here

What to do if you think you’ve been hacked 

If you think your phone has been hacked, there are some steps you can take to address it. 

  • Contact law enforcement for assistance if you think you’ve been hacked and believe that that hacker is tracking your location
  • We recommend letting your contacts know that your phone has been hacked and that they shouldn’t click any suspicious-looking links they may have received from you.
  • You can also delete any suspicious apps that came from a third-party source (in other words, not the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store)
  • You can also check for any unauthorized GPS tracking by reviewing the list of apps that have access to your location.


Woman covering mouth with hand, eyes wide in shock while holding up iPhone

Signs your phone may have been hacked: Green or orange dot appears, strange or inappropriate pop-ups, unusual data usage, texts or calls not made by you and quick battery drainage. (

What can I do to prevent my phone from being tracked? 

The good news is that although your phone could be tracked, there are plenty of steps you can take to significantly reduce the risk of this happening. Here are some of my best tips for you to follow. 

1. Use antivirus software  

Keeping hackers from tracking your devices can be prevented if you have good antivirus software installed.  Not only can antivirus software block malware that can track you, but it will also prevent you from clicking on any potential malicious links in the first place that would allow hackers to gain access to your personal information. 

See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices by heading to 

2. Use a VPN  

Consider using a VPN to protect against who can track you and identify your potential location on websites that you visit.  Many sites can read your IP address and, depending on their privacy settings, may display the city from which you are corresponding. A VPN will disguise your IP address to show an alternate location. 

For the best VPN software, see my expert review of the best VPNs for browsing the web privately on your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices, by visiting 

3. Don’t use a public WiFi network 

If you’re not using a VPN, then you should definitely not be using a public WiFi network. This is one of the easiest ways for a hacker to break into your device and start tracking your location, because you have little to no protection. Scam hotspots historically are easily identified by generic names like “Free WiFi” to lure people to connect to their networks.  Cybercriminals have gotten savvier by using similar names of popular legitimate hotspots. 

This is a huge reason why having a VPN is so important because it will give an extra layer of protection that will make it much harder for a hacker to break into your phone. For more information on why public WiFi is not a safe bet, click here. 

Man holds hand over mouth in shock looking at his phone

Using a public WiFi network without having a VPN is one of the easiest ways to get hacked. (

4. Turn off location settings for certain apps 


As I mentioned before, certain apps on your phone could still be tracking your location even if you have location tracking turned off within your phone’s settings. To prevent this from happening, you have to make sure that location services are turned off for each app that you don’t want tracking you. Here’s how to do it. 

How to turn off app tracking on an iPhone 

  • Go to your Settings app
  • Scroll down and click Privacy & Security

Select Tracking  

A list of apps that you have permitted to track your activity will appear here. You can turn off ones that have no use tracking you by toggling off, like Twitter or Instagram.  However, apps that actively use location services like Uber and Door Dash should be left on so that you can be located when using them. 

How to turn off app tracking on an Android 

Settings may vary depending on your Android phone’s manufacturer  

  • Swipe down twice from the top of the screen to reveal quick settings
  • Touch and hold Location
  • Tap App permission
  • Find the apps that use your phone (e.g., Facebook or Instagram) location under:
    Allowed all the time
    Allowed only while in use
    Ask every time
  • Allowed all the time
  • Allowed only while in use
  • Ask every time
  • Tap the relevant app to change the permissions

And if you want to learn more about how you can stop sharing your location with others, you can click here. 

5. Check your Google account 

No, it’s not an individual, but you don’t want big tech tracking you either. Your Google account could have a history of devices that are tracking you, and Google has been known to collect tons of data about your location history, web and app activity and more. However, you can make sure that your location settings are adjusted so that this doesn’t happen without your consent. 


Woman places hand on head in shock with eyes wide and mouth open looking down at her phone

You can adjust your location settings in your Google Account to help keep you safe.  (

How to adjust the location settings in your Google account (iPhone) 

  • Open the Google app
  • Click on the profile picture icon in the top right corner
  • Click Google Account 
  • Click Data & privacy in the menu bar at the top
  • Scroll down, and select Location History
  • Any devices tracking you will be listed. If you do not want this, select Turn off or Turn off and delete activity

How to adjust the location settings in your Google account (Android) 

  • Open the Google app
  • Click on the profile picture icon in the top corner
  • Tap your email
  • Click Manage Your Google Account 
  • Click Data & privacy in the menu bar at the top
  • Scroll down, and select Location History
  • Any devices tracking you will be listed. If you do not want this, select Turn off


6. Use a strong password 

You should make sure that your phone is always locked when you’re not using it. Create strong passwords for your accounts and devices, and avoid using the same password for multiple online accounts. Consider using a password manager to securely store and generate complex passwords. 

7. Enable biometrics and 2-factor authentication 

Along with a strong password, you should also have facial recognition or fingerprint enabled, depending on what your smartphone offers. This prevents unauthorized access to your phone and the installation of tracking apps. Be sure to enable 2-factor authentication or 2FA, which is a security method that requires two forms of identification, as an extra shield that will prevent a hacker from getting into your accounts. 

8. Keep your phone updated 

Make sure you’re always checking for software updates on your phone if you don’t have automatic updates turned on already. You can do this by going into your phone’s settings and checking for software updates. These updates often have important security and bug fixes that can further prevent your phone from being hacked. You should also be regularly checking for updates to all the apps on your phone, as those will get security and bug fixes as well. 

9. Use a more private browser 

Google is the default browser for tons of people on the internet. However, the tech giant has also been known to keep track of people’s data so that it can send more targeted ads. That’s why there are some great alternatives for your desktop and laptop browsers as well as your mobile devices that you can use to browse freely without having to worry about your data being taken. 

Kurt’s key takeaways 

The big nightmare that we all want to avoid is having someone tracking our every move. It’s an invasion of privacy and can be incredibly scary and anxiety-inducing, so make sure you’re following my tips carefully and keeping those criminals out of your business. 

Should apps that don’t need your location even have the option to turn it on? Let us know by writing us at


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