6 Possible Signs Your Cell Phone May Be Tapped

0 phonetap intro   6 Possible Signs Your Cell Phone May Be TappedWe all have them. Cell phones have grown to become an extension of our lives. When’s the last time you left the house without your cell phone? Chances are it was an accident. It is no secret that we use our cell phones way too much. We have become too dependent on these devices and their capabilities.

I’m not trying to scare you, but do you know how easy it is to tap one of these phones? That is to say, if someone wanted to, they could listen in on your conversations, read your messages, and yes, even monitor your location through GPS. Privacy is a growing concern with today’s technology, especially with how we communicate.


Tapping someone’s phone without their permission is illegal but it still happens anyway, usually without the owner’s knowledge. It’s not likely to happen to you, but in case you have your suspicions, here are some simple tips you can follow to tell if your cell phone is being tapped.

Is My Cell Phone Tapped?

There are a lot of reasons someone might want to listen in on your phone calls. Whether it’s a nosy boss, an angry spouse, a thief, or just some prankster, your privacy can be invaded through your cell phone. If your phone is tapped, it would even be possible for someone to listen to your conversations through your phone, even if you’re not on it.

This list is a few simple ways to check for a possible cell phone tap. These aren’t fool-proof by any means, so you should always be careful while using your phone. I will also list some steps you can follow to maintain your privacy.

Your Battery Temperature

One indicator of a possible phone tap is the temperature of your battery. Feel your cell phone if you haven’t used it for a while. If it feels warm, this means your phone could be still in use, even if you are not on a call.  Please note however that heat may be from overuse. Your battery being hot is only a potential sign if your phone has been powered down for a while.

Phone Not Staying Charged

Having to charge your cell phone more often than normal is another potential sign. If you haven’t used it any more than usual, your phone could be in use when you aren’t using it. When a cell phone is tapped it loses its battery life faster. A tapped cell phone is constantly recording conversations in the room, even when the phone appears to be idle.

You can use an app like BatteryLife LX or Battery LED (iPhone) to monitor your phone’s battery life and history over time.

2 phonetap battery   6 Possible Signs Your Cell Phone May Be Tapped

[Note]: Cell phone batteries tend to lose the ability to stay charged over time. If you’ve had your phone for over a year, your battery may be going bad due to overuse and constant charging over time.

Delay in Shutting Down

When shutting down your phone, if you face issues such as a delay, the back light remaining lit for a time after being shut down, or refusal to shut off, your phone could be tapped. Always be aware of inexplicable activity on your phone. Since phones are made up of hardware and software, however, this could also be caused due to a glitch in the system or some kind of internal problem as well.

More Strange Activity

While turned on, does your phone ever light up, shut down, power up, or install a program on its own? Strange activity such as this could also be a sign of someone else controlling your device. Note that this can also happen due to interference during the transmission of data.

Background Noise

When on a call, a tapped phone will often include background noises. Usually in the form of echoes, static, or clicking, these sounds can either be caused by interference, a bad connection, or someone else listening in. If you ever hear a pulsating static noise coming from your phone when you are not using it, however, you may have a problem.

Distortion

3 phonetap static   6 Possible Signs Your Cell Phone May Be Tapped

If you are using your cell phone in close proximity to other electronic devices, like a television, and the other devices become distorted, this could be a sign that additional hardware is installed in the cell phone. A lot of times this distortion is normal, but if it is happening while you’re not on a call it could be something to watch for.

What Can You Do About This?

For tips on what you can do if you are ever in this situation, as well as a visual display of some of the signs mentioned above, I invite you to watch this YouTube video entitled, Is Your Cell Phone Bugged?:

 

Engage in Disinformation

If you suspect your phone conversations are being recorded or tapped by someone you know, you can engage in disinformation to confirm this. Tell someone you trust some “personal” information about yourself on your cell phone. If you find out later that others know the information then you know someone may have been listening.

Get Assistance

If you have reason to believe your cell phone is tapped, take it to your cell phone carrier for assistance. The police are also an option as they have equipment that can test your phone for a bug, but you should only go this route if you are fairly certain of a phone tap.

Conclusion

I would like to restate that the chances of your phone is actually bugged are very slim. A lot of the phenomena I’ve mentioned here can be explained by phone overuse, bad connections, or interference, but they are signs to look for if you are worried. If you’re a good Samaritan, the chances are good that your phone is clean.

If you want to be safe, you should lock your phone with a password and keep it around you at all times. When you aren’t using it, you can remove the battery to ensure that no one can listen in. No matter what is done to a phone, removing the battery will protect you.

Was this article helpful? Are you familiar with any other cell phone tap signs? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below!

Bah Humbug, stevegarfield, rickremington

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

25 Comments -

ankit

is this article for real ?!

Steve Campbell

ankit,

As I stated in the article a couple times, your chances of your phone being tapped are very slim. I like to write challenging articles from time to time and this is a possible threat to some who might find the advice useful…or not, but oh well :)

Steve Campbell

ankit,

As I stated in the article a couple times, your chances of your phone being tapped are very slim. I like to write challenging articles from time to time and this is a possible threat to some who might find the advice useful…or not, but oh well :)

Anonymous

This is very real – do a Google on Flexispy for starters….I really had to educate myself when it happened to me and could just about knock out an article.

I won’t go into a lot of detail as to how and why but suffice it to say *never* leave your cell phone unattended. Although it is not as relevant now as when it happened, I’d suggest keeping an eye on your data usage too. Review credit cards and bank statements for charges that you may not recognize.

I noticed my phone acting slightly funky but until someone told me that my phone was bugged I didn’t even know these types of applications existed. Fortunately the app had only been installed for a few days….I ended up doing a complete hard reset to remove it and even then I wasn’t so sure it was gone so I ended up just getting another phone.

From my standpoint the invasion of my privacy was the most damaging aspect of the whole experience.

Steve Campbell

Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a scary thought when you see evidence of it happening to someone in real life.

xoxor

This is very real – do a Google on Flexispy for starters….I really had to educate myself when it happened to me and could just about knock out an article.

I won’t go into a lot of detail as to how and why but suffice it to say *never* leave your cell phone unattended. Although it is not as relevant now as when it happened, I’d suggest keeping an eye on your data usage too. Review credit cards and bank statements for charges that you may not recognize.

I noticed my phone acting slightly funky but until someone told me that my phone was bugged I didn’t even know these types of applications existed. Fortunately the app had only been installed for a few days….I ended up doing a complete hard reset to remove it and even then I wasn’t so sure it was gone so I ended up just getting another phone.

From my standpoint the invasion of my privacy was the most damaging aspect of the whole experience.

Primax

You forgot the tinfoil hat.

Steve Campbell

haha you’re right!

Nat Jay

I’m personally aware of all those mobile spying software and services that litter the web like everybody’s business. It’s like for every suspicious spouse, friend or boss, there’s a dozen different applications that makes snooping almost a right-to-know. I wonder where’s the love these days… LOL

Steve Campbell

I agree wholeheartedly. Where’s the love?

micro sd card

I personally am all about mobile spy software and services that litter the web like everyone’s business. It all suspicious spouse, friend or boss is like to, there’s a dozen different applications that creates a right to know snooping-around.

Anonymous

Most of the types of phone tap hacks need you to install an app. So only then they can tap you. But you also have bluetooth hacks which don’t need an app install on the target phone. Worse you don’t even have to first approve the bluetooth connection.Although this more dangerous it just works on a few phones with a specific firmware. Mostly called bluehack or bluejack.

But most annoying tapping are portable IMSI catcher they use the man-in-the-middle attack. It works by emitting a strong reception signal leading mobile phones to believe it offers the best quality connection but in fact completely removing any security and privacy of the phone conversation. more info: http://www.phonecrypt.com/phone_interceptions.php

oOfmanOo

Most of the types of phone tap hacks need you to install an app. So only then they can tap you. But you also have bluetooth hacks which don’t need an app install on the target phone. Worse you don’t even have to first approve the bluetooth connection.Although this more dangerous it just works on a few phones with a specific firmware. Mostly called bluehack or bluejack.

But most annoying tapping are portable IMSI catcher they use the man-in-the-middle attack. It works by emitting a strong reception signal leading mobile phones to believe it offers the best quality connection but in fact completely removing any security and privacy of the phone conversation. more info: http://www.phonecrypt.com/phon

Skipp Porteous

Spyware is an increasing threat as cell phones become smarter.

Cell phones transmit at around 900 MHz or 1800 Mhz, so they would naturally disturb other devices. To think that other hardware is installed on your phone is almot impossible. Cell phones are too small — they have too much stuff packed into them.

I know of no police departments that have the equipment to tell if your cell phone is bugged. In fact, police departments don’t even care.

Planting disinformation is a real good idea because there is no way you can tell who put spyware on your cell phone, unless they run off with the disinformation you talked about on your phone.

Skipp Porteous

Spyware is an increasing threat as cell phones become smarter.

Cell phones transmit at around 900 MHz or 1800 Mhz, so they would naturally disturb other devices. To think that other hardware is installed on your phone is almot impossible. Cell phones are too small — they have too much stuff packed into them.

I know of no police departments that have the equipment to tell if your cell phone is bugged. In fact, police departments don’t even care.

Planting disinformation is a real good idea because there is no way you can tell who put spyware on your cell phone, unless they run off with the disinformation you talked about on your phone.

yuregininsesi

I’m personally aware of all those mobile spying software and services that litter the web like everybody’s business. It’s like for every suspicious spouse, friend or boss, there’s a dozen different applications that makes snooping almost a right-to-know. I wonder where’s the love these days

lonesome pearl

Any knowledge about odd phone numbers? I’ve gotten calls on my cell phone with the caller i.d. showing “000-000-0000″. If I don’t answer, it hangs up when my voicemail picks up; when I do, nobody’s there (big surprise). I get similar calls on my land line, but the caller i.d. shows “000-012-3456″. Wtf???

Steve Campbell

Very strange. You could be getting pranked, or it could be telemarketers/sales calls. You can probably contact your phone company to find out.

Genus One

I liked your article and have read some similar red flag indicators online as well. So Here we go; I use my friends business land-line local number that was ported into a cell phone. He is going through a divorce and I recently found a GPS tracker unit that fell from beneath his car while at his shop.. so we know for a fact that his soon to be ex-wife has a PI monitoring him (she believes he has a drug habit, and is cheating, to which both accusations are absurd!haha). QUESTION(1): Can a P.I. (or Police)tap these types of ported lines (business esp.), and if so, do the same or different indicators apply? QUESTION(2): Every now and then(most recently tonight), late around midnight esp., I’ve received calls from a restricted number that when I answer; it beeps like an answering machine has begun recording. Could that mean anything? QUESTION(3): Ive heard a long time ago that when police are tapping your phone, there is a # to call, and if it rings busy..your line is being monitored..urban legend? Sucks I cant remember that number, cuz I mean it couldn’t hurt,ya know!Lmao! If you could help me out with these queries, that would be awesome! And if not, maybe you have some other trusted+technical websites on this type of info you could point me towards? Thanks Steve, and sorry this was so long! Its why I labeled the questions! lol

Steve Campbell

Wow. I’ll be honest, I don’t have any idea what to tell you. It seems like you are in a truly unique situation here to say the least. Maybe you could direct your questions to our answer boards, as well as any other technical forums so that the internet’s masses can take a crack at it. I’m sure you’ll get some interesting answers, some of which I hope helps you!

Genus One

Thanks anyway man! Im trying to post some laws via a comments on here, to help others about illegal intercepts of private conversations.

Aibek

Hi,

I find the Questions 2 and 3 rather interesting and think some of the
MUO readers can definitely give you an answer to them. Why don’t you
post those as individual questions on MakeUseOf Answers?

http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/

Aibek

Genus One

My girlfriend and I had our phone calls illegally recorded and played for police about an incident that I wont go into much detail about, but the jest of it was basically she borrowed an item to pawn to get gas money to look for work ($15).. was wrongfully charged (cost us $200 in the end). It was later dropped, when I explained to her parents that what her stepfather had done (and had been doing for a long time) was a felony. It was also illegal for the cops to even listen to the recordings, I wanted so badly to bring a civil suit against the police, and her step-dad. When we spoke to a lawyer he wanted her case very badly, since he knew it was a strong one, and it is still on her record. Making it even harder for her to get a job..she lost 4 prospective employments because of her dick of a dad! It costs $380 to have it expunged, law is about money and not much about justice anymore!
Hope this info will help some of you that have been violated as well, no one has the right to listen to or record your phone calls, even if they pay the bill or if its their house, unless there is 2 party consent. These laws listed are for the state of SC, but apply to all… just google your State!

SECTION 17-30-20. Prohibited acts. [SC ST SEC 17-30-20]

Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, a person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be punished as provided in Section 17-30-50 of this chapter:

(1) intentionally intercepts, attempts to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or attempt to intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication;

(2) intentionally uses, attempts to use, or procures any other person to use or attempt to use any electronic, mechanical, or other device to intercept any oral communication when:

(a) the device is affixed to or otherwise transmits a signal through a wire, cable, or other like connection used in wire communication; or

(b) the device transmits communications by radio or interferes with the transmission of the communication;

(3) intentionally discloses or attempts to disclose to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection;

(4) intentionally uses or attempts to use the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection; or

(5) intentionally discloses or attempts to disclose to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication intercepted by means authorized by Section 17-30-70 or Section 17-30-95 when that person knows or has reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of such a communication in connection with a criminal investigation and the disclosure is not otherwise authorized under this chapter.

SECTION 17-30-50. Penalty for violating §§ 17-30-20 through 17-30-45. [SC ST SEC 17-30-50]

(A) Except as provided in subsection (B), whoever violates the provisions of Sections 17-30-20 through 17-30-45, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.

(B) If the offense is a first offense under this chapter and is not for any unlawful purpose or for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private commercial gain, and the wire or electronic communication with respect to which the offense under this chapter was committed is a radio communication that is not scrambled, encrypted, or transmitted using modulation techniques the essential parameters of which have been withheld from the public with the intention of preserving the privacy of the communication, then:

(1) if the communication is not the radio portion of a cellular telephone communication, a cordless telephone communication that is transmitted between the cordless telephone handset and the base unit, a public land mobile radio service communication, or a paging service communication, and the conduct is not that described in Section 17-30-35(7), the person committing the offense is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than one thousand dollars, or both;

(2) if the communication is the radio portion of a cellular telephone communication, a cordless telephone communication that is transmitted between the cordless telephone handset and the base unit, a public land mobile radio service communication, or a paging service communication, the person committing the offense is guilty of a misdemeanor, and must, upon conviction, be fined not more than one thousand dollars for each violation.
SECTION 17-30-60. Seizure and forfeiture. [SC ST SEC 17-30-60]

Any electronic, mechanical, or other device used, sent, carried, manufactured, assembled, possessed, or sold in violation of this chapter may be seized and forfeited to the State.

SECTION 17-30-65. Admissibility of contents of, or evidence derived from, intercepted communications; contents as public record. [SC ST SEC 17-30-65]

(A) Whenever any wire, oral, or electronic communication has been intercepted, no part of the contents of the communication and no evidence derived therefrom may be received in evidence in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before any court, grand jury, department, officer, agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of the State, or a political subdivision thereof, if the disclosure of that information would be in violation of this chapter. The prohibition of use as evidence provided in this section does not apply in cases of prosecution for criminal interception in violation of the provisions of this chapter.

(B) The contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication intercepted pursuant to this chapter and the contents of any application for an order and an order of authorization issued pursuant to this chapter are not included in the definition of a public record contained in Section 30-4-20(c), and may only be disclosed in a manner provided by this chapter.

SECTION 17-30-65. Admissibility of contents of, or evidence derived from, intercepted communications; contents as public record. [SC ST SEC 17-30-65]

(A) Whenever any wire, oral, or electronic communication has been intercepted, no part of the contents of the communication and no evidence derived therefrom may be received in evidence in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding in or before any court, grand jury, department, officer, agency, regulatory body, legislative committee, or other authority of the State, or a political subdivision thereof, if the disclosure of that information would be in violation of this chapter. The prohibition of use as evidence provided in this section does not apply in cases of prosecution for criminal interception in violation of the provisions of this chapter.

(B) The contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication intercepted pursuant to this chapter and the contents of any application for an order and an order of authorization issued pursuant to this chapter are not included in the definition of a public record contained in Section 30-4-20(c), and may only be disclosed in a manner provided by this chapter.

SECTION 17-30-75. Disclosure of content of intercepted communication. [SC ST SEC 17-30-75]

(A) Any SLED agent who, by any means authorized by this chapter, has obtained knowledge of the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication or evidence derived from it may disclose the contents to an attorney authorized by law to investigate and institute any action on behalf of the State of South Carolina or political subdivision of the State, or to another SLED agent, investigative, or law enforcement officer to the extent that the disclosure is appropriate to the proper performance of the official duties of the officer or person making or receiving the disclosure.

(B) Any SLED agent, investigative, or law enforcement officer who, by any means authorized by this chapter, has obtained knowledge of the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication or evidence derived from it may use the contents to the extent the use is appropriate to the proper performance of his official duties.
(C) Any person who has received, by any means authorized by this chapter, or by the laws of any other state or the United States, any information concerning a wire, oral, or electronic communication or evidence derived from it, intercepted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, may disclose the contents of that communication or the derivative evidence while giving testimony under oath or affirmation in any criminal proceeding in any court of the State or of the United States or in any grand jury proceedings.

(D) No otherwise privileged wire, oral, or electronic communication intercepted in accordance with or in violation of the provisions of this chapter loses its privileged character.

(E) When a SLED agent, while engaged in intercepting wire, oral, or electronic communications in the manner authorized by this chapter, intercepts wire, oral, or electronic communications relating to offenses other than those specified in the order of authorization or approval, the contents thereof and evidence derived from it may be disclosed or used as provided in subsections (A) and (B). The contents and any evidence derived from it may be used under subsection (C) when authorized or approved by a judge of competent jurisdiction when the judge finds on subsequent application that the contents were otherwise intercepted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The application must be made as soon as practicable.

SECTION 17-30-130. Reporting intercepted communications. [SC ST SEC 17-30-130]

Any intercepted wire, oral, or electronic communication must be reported to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts as outlined in 18 U.S.C. Section 2519.

SECTION 17-30-135. Civil action for wrongful interceptions. [SC ST SEC 17-30-135]

(A) Any person whose wire, oral, or electronic communication is intercepted, disclosed, or used in violation of this chapter has a civil cause of action against any person or entity who intercepts, discloses, or uses, or procures any other person or entity to intercept, disclose, or use the communications and is entitled to recover from the person or entity which engaged in that violation relief as may be appropriate, including:

(1) preliminary or equitable or declaratory relief as may be appropriate;

(2) actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages computed at the rate of five hundred dollars a day for each day of violation or twenty-five thousand dollars, whichever is greater, not to exceed the limits on liability provided in subsection (F)(3);

(3) punitive damages, except as may be prohibited in subsection (F)(4); and

(4) a reasonable attorney’s fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred. (B) A good faith reliance on a court order, subpoena, or a request of an agent of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division under Section 17-30-95 constitutes a complete defense to any civil, criminal, or administrative action, other than an action for preliminary or equitable or declaratory relief.

(C) A civil action under this section may not be commenced later than five years after the date upon which the claimant first has a reasonable opportunity to discover the violation, except as provided in subsection (F)(2).

(D) Any person whose wire, oral, or electronic communication is intercepted, disclosed, or used in violation of this chapter is entitled to a jury trial.

(E) An investigative or law enforcement officer or governmental entity who wilfully discloses or wilfully uses information beyond the extent permitted by law is in violation of this chapter and subject to a civil cause of action and criminal penalties as provided in this chapter.

(F)(1) Any civil cause of action for damages authorized in subsection (A) and brought against the State, an agency, a political subdivision, or a governmental entity and its employee acting within the scope of his official duty must be brought pursuant to the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, Chapter 78, Title 15. For purposes of the Tort Claims Act, an action authorized in subsection (A) and brought against the State, an agency, a political subdivision, or a governmental entity and its employee acting within the scope of his official duty is a tort within the meaning of the Act.

(2) In any action authorized in subsection (A) and brought against the State, an agency, a political subdivision, or a governmental entity and its employee acting within the scope of his official duty, the provisions in the Tort Claims Act regarding the statute of limitations provided in Section 15-78-110 shall apply in lieu of subsection (C) of this section.

(E) An investigative or law enforcement officer or governmental entity who wilfully discloses or wilfully uses information beyond the extent permitted by law is in violation of this chapter and subject to a civil cause of action and criminal penalties as provided in this chapter.

Luisse Mitchell

Sounds like good advice. There are TSCM (Technical Surveillance Countermeasures) devices offered out there as well as people who has the expertise if experts are needed.

http://www.sweepteam.com

Aibek

Hi,

I find the Questions 2 and 3 rather interesting and think some of the
MUO readers can definitely give you an answer to them. Why don’t you
post those as individual questions on MakeUseOf Answers?

http://www.makeuseof.com/answe

Aibek