Cell phone tapping is the act of gaining access to someone’s phone without their knowledge or permission to listen to their phone conversations, read their messages, track their location, etc. The perpetrator can tap a mobile device with the use of an Android or iPhone spy app or hacking device. These apps and hacking devices are designed to record and listen in on live calls.
This activity is, of course, illegal, however, it is sadly a regularly reported issue. To make sure your phone isn’t tapped and to prevent it, make sure to read this article, which will allow you to stay safe.
Can Your Phone Be Tapped?
Unless you have special security measures set in place, your phone can be tapped. In fact, any phone can be tapped. The person who wishes to tap your phone simply needs to install the spy app or hacking device on your phone. Once the device or app is installed there is a great chance that you won’t even notice it, as it is designed to run in the background and not to draw any attention.
How Do You Know If Your Phone Is Tapped?
Signs that your phone may be tapped
If you are wondering if there is any way to know if your phone is being tapped, we have good news! There are certain clues and signs that are suspicious, to say the least when it comes to phone tapping. If you have noticed any of the indicators listed below, you have reason to believe that your phone might be compromised.
1. Unusual third-party apps
Check your phone for some strange apps that you don’t remember installing and that don’t come with the phone. Such apps could be the source or even a result of phone tapping. If you didn’t install it and if you don’t use it, uninstall it immediately. When installing apps, keep in mind that apps from third-party websites tend to be less reliable than the ones from Google Play or App Store, though even these are not always trustworthy. It’s best to Google any app and developer before installing it. In addition, strange pop-up ads may also signal that there is a spyware app on your phone and that the device has been compromised.
When checking for unusual apps, look for words like ‘spy, malware, monitor’, or other related topics. Also, check that the option ‘Unknown sources’ isn’t enabled, as this allows the installation of unsafe apps. Disable this setting by going to ‘Settings’, ‘Additional Settings’, ‘Security and Privacy’, and then uncheck ‘Unknown sources’.
2. Unusual permission requests
If a messaging app requests access or permission to your camera, contact list, call history, and messages, it’s normal. However, when a gaming app, for example, does it, giving permission may not be such a good idea, as it may mean that a hacker is trying to access your data through an app. Review all the incoming app permissions before agreeing to any of them and also consider checking the old ones. If you have children, you may want to consider switching on parental control to keep them from installing any malware.
3. Increased battery drain
If you believe that your phone’s battery drains faster than usual, you may want to check the device’s battery performance. A sky app would typically make the phone work harder than normal and thus drain your battery fasted, however, certain more advanced apps and devices are designed not to drain the battery, but it is unlikely that the person who did this has access to such professional equipment. This may be one of the simplest ways to determine whether or not your phone is tapped, however, it is unreliable, as faster battery drain may be just a sign of the device aging.
4. Increased phone temperatures
One way to determine that your phone is working overtime for no apparent reason (it’s not like you have been streaming videos all day long) is by noticing that the device is unusually warm. An inexplicably warm device may suggest that there some processes running on the device that you are not aware of. However, this method is also error-prone, as phones tend to get naturally hotter in warmer months, during streaming, gaming, and other demanding tasks.
5. Increased data usage
A tapped phone would send stolen information to the hacker’s device. If your phone isn’t constantly connected to Wi-Fi, this activity would use lots of data. Check your data usage and if it has increased without using data knowingly, it means that your phone might be tapped.
6. Unexpected reboots
In case your phone unexpectedly reboots, it may indicate that your device is being remotely accessed by someone else. The usual phone reboots are prompted or happen if something is wrong with the processing, which tends to be easily detectable. If the issue keeps happening, you may want to look into it to prevent hacking.
7. Unusual background noise
If you hear distorted noises, clicking sounds, static signals, high-pitched murmurs, distant voices, or interruptions during a phone call, it may mean that the phone is being tapped and the call recorded. In this case, make sure to end the call and remove the harmful software.
8. Screen distortions
If you notice any unusual screen distortions or if your phone’s backlight is still on after turning the device off, you may want to check your phone for malware.
9. Slower performance
A phone’s slower performance could indicate that your memory is full, that you are using outdated software, or perhaps that your phone is tapped. Taking a long time to shut down is also a sign of spyware, as the phone must complete any tasks that are in progress, and sending data to a hacker would noticeably extend the process of shutting down. You can try to speed up your device, but if it doesn’t work, make sure to take precautions to avoid stolen data.
10. Inability to turn the device off
Some spyware programs will prevent you from turning off your mobile device. If you try to turn it off, but you don’t succeed, it may mean that your phone is tapped.
11. Unusual Messages
Unusual messages could mean that someone has made an honest mistake to send the text to the wrong number or it can simply be spam. However, strange messages shouldn’t be ignored, as they can indicate a red flag signaling that a spy app hasn’t been properly installed. Random sets of numbers and other data could be instructions from the hacker’s server to interfere with an app. In addition, if your contacts inform you that they have been receiving strange messages from your phone number, it could also mean that your device has been compromised.
12. Unusual standby activity
The only things that are supposed to make your screen on standby light up are incoming calls, messages, and notifications. If your screen on standby lights up without incoming notifications, it can be considered as another red flag. If your phone makes any weird sounds, it may also mean it is being tampered with.
13. Unusual website appearance
Unusual website appearance may be the result of malicious third-party apps on your phone. If you have noticed any strange looks of websites, you may want to check your phone.
14. Electronic interference
If other electronic devices, like your radio and TV, make high-pitched noises when your phone is nearby, even if you are not on a call, it may indicate that something is wrong with the device.
15. Other unusual activity
Any other unusual activity on your phone may also mean that there is a problem. Keep an eye out for unauthorized restarts, loud notification alerts when your device is on silent, decreased available memory, brief bursts of static, changing interface, etc.
How to check if your phone is tapped
All of the things listed above are red flags that could indicate that your phone is tapped. However, none of them can give you any certainty that it is in fact so. Below you can find several effective and reliable methods to check and make sure whether or not your phone is actually being tapped.
1. Use codes
One way to make sure if spyware has been using your data is by using some codes.
- *#21# : Dial this code to check if any spy app or device has been diverting your device’s data, calls, texts, and more. Dialing this number will enable you to check the status of diversions and the corresponding number.
- *#06# : Check your IMEI number for potential threats by dialing this code.
- *#62# : Dialing this code will inform you if spyware is blocking or redirecting your calls. You can clear redirections by dialing ##002#.
2. Use Utility Netmonitor codes
Not only will this code tell you if your phone is being tapped, but also (at least approximately) who is tapping your phone, especially if the hacker is using cell towers and base stations to hack into the device.
- Step 1: If you have an Android phone, dial *#*#4636#*#* or *#*#197328640#*#*; if you have an iPhone, dial 3001#12345#*.
- Step 2: Check the UMTS RR information and copy the number that shows up.
- Step 3: Select MM Information and press Serving PLMN on the main menu.
- Step 4: Write down the Local Area Code or LAC on the screen.
- Step 5: Visit a net monitor website and enter the numbers to get your phone’s exact location.
3. Use security check software
- For Android: If you have an Android device, download and install Certo Mobile Security from Google Play Store. The app is designed to perform full security scans and remove malware for free.
- For iOS: If you have an Apple device, install Certo AntiSpy on your computer and use it to scan your iPhone for spyware and tapping.
4. Hire a company to perform a sweep
There is also this old-school way to check for phone tapping – by hiring a company to perform a detailed wiretap detection sweep. Many companies specialize in such services, however, they usually only detect devices being used on your premises.
What To Do If Your Android Phone Is Tapped Or Being Monitored?
If you have checked and determined that your phone is in fact being tapped, you will have to remove the spyware. Luckily, this process is rather quick and simple.
- Use security check software
- For Android: Install Certo Mobile Security, perform a full security scab and simply press ‘remove’ next to any detected threats.
- For iOS: iOS devices tend to disable any spyware automatically when performing an iOS update.
- Factory reset : For additional security, you can reset your device to factory settings, which will uninstall all third-party apps. But make sure to back the phone up before doing so.
- For Android: Go to ‘Settings’, press ‘Backup and Reset’, choose ‘Select Factory Data Reset’, and finally ‘Erase All Apps’.
- For iOS: Go to ‘Settings’, then ‘General’, select ‘Reset’, and press the ‘Reset All Settings’ button.
- Contact your phone service provider : Your phone service provider has specialized equipment to detect illegal phone tapping. Contact them and ask them to do a line analysis check.
- Contact a professional security company : Security companies are equipped with multiple digital tools and detection devices, which allow them to check your devices and detect spyware. At times, they are also able to tell you who is the perpetrator. After finding the malware, they can easily remove it and offer a risk analysis to keep you safe in the future.
- Contact the police : Not only does the police have high-end equipment to check for illegal tapping, but they can also catch the person responsible for it.
How To Protect A Cell Phone From Being Tapped
There are several efficient methods when it comes to protecting your phone and stopping phone tapping. Some of the best protection methods include:
- Installing antivirus apps: Every computer, tablet, and phone needs a reliable antivirus app. They will keep your device safer in general, plus, they are great tools to track down and dodge malware. Some antivirus apps, including the Norton Mobile Security or Norton 360 app, even have the ability to protect your device from theft and fraud. To protect your phone with an antivirus app, simply download and install it and keep in mind that free versions tend to offer limited options. Other reliable anti-spyware software includes Mobileshox.com and North Antivirus.
- Using security check software and tap detectors: Using security check software and tap detectors will alert you as soon as someone will try to tap your device.
- Frequently updating your accounts: The apps and accounts that are most vulnerable are your mobile banking, social media, and messaging accounts. Therefore, make sure to keep them updated and thus safe. Also, consider periodically changing your passwords.
- Using encryption: Using encryption will protect your phone and your sensitive data. Encrypting your data will prevent hackers from accessing it. Newer smartphones already feature encryption, while older operating systems may require you to set it up. Make sure to plug your phone into an electric socket during the setup, as the device dying in between may result in lost data.
- Updating your OS: Updates keep your device and apps up-to-date and they provide an extra security layer. Make sure your device notifies you whenever an update is available or to do the update automatically.
- Keeping your device turned off: When you are not actively using your phone, it’s better to turn it off as this will prevent hackers from having uninterrupted access to your data. Additionally, consider removing the battery, which will prevent predators from making any connections to your phone.
- Disabling Bluetooth and GPS: When you aren’t using Bluetooth and GPS, consider disabling them. Enabled GPS will allow potential predators to track your location. Also, make sure to only accept Bluetooth content from the people you know and trust.
- Not leaving phone unattended: If someone physically gets a hold of your phone, they can easily tap it. Make sure to have it on you or store it somewhere secure.
- Contacting your mobile service provider: As your mobile service provider can put a tap on your phone to track down potential hackers, you may want to ask them for help. They can also wipe your phone’s memory and switch your number or device for additional security.
- Taking additional security measures: All kinds of additional security measures will add a security layer to your device. Therefore, make sure to install a security password on your phone, use fingerprint ID, use facial recognition, block unknown apps, use double safety measures for bank account and other sensitive data, remove all unnecessary content from your phone, use VPN service, avoid using public Wi-Fi, etc.
FAQs – Frequently Ask Questions
Is there any app to tell if your phone is tapped?
There was an app called Secret SMS Replicator on Google Play, but it has been taken down. Now, the creators have created a new app called Reveal that enables you to check if your phone is being tapped.
How can you tell if someone is recording your call?
If you notice and unusual crackling sounds, clicks, remote voices, or bursts of static during a call, it may mean that someone is listening to or even recording your conversation.
Can someone track your phone without knowing?
In order to track a device, one must install the tracking app on it. If someone does that on your phone, there is a good chance that you won’t notice it, as it is designed to quietly run in the background and not to consume much battery.
Can someone read your text messages from their phone?
Yes. In case someone has installed a spy app on your phone, he or she will be able to see your incoming and outgoing text messages.
Is your phone tapped by the police?
It is unlikely that the police would be tapping your phone unless you are suspected of committing a crime. If you notice any of the signs that may indicate that your phone is being tapped, it may as well be the police.
Can hackers see you through your phone camera?
Yes, if your device has an in-built camera, which most devices do, you are vulnerable to camfecting – an online attack when hackers remotely take control of your webcam.
When could your phone be tapped by the police?
The police can tap your phone if they have a search warrant. They can only do it under certain strict conditions, for example, to track down criminals, to identify a criminal network, or to arrest someone.