There are various reasons why it might be important to track someone's phone or identify where someone is calling from. The police may need to monitor a suspect's mobile device to monitor the locations that they are visiting to use as evidence in a case. A parent may also want to track their child's phone location so that they can make sure they are safe.
There are many apps that are self-professed as a 'phone number location tracker', but a large majority of these applications are a scam or illegal. Legitimate software will track the phone rather than the actual number. Unless it has been approved by an official authorisation, phone tracking is also illegal without the user's consent.
Many smart devices can be tracked in the same way that mobile phones can be, as they are connected to GPS or Wi-Fi networks. This can help you monitor where your devices are, but it also means that it's not just your mobile phone that could get hacked and tracked.
In this guide, we'll look at the different ways that a target phone can be tracked, how you can tell if your own device is being tracked, and the legalities that surround tracking phones.
You may want to know how to track phone number locations for a number of reasons. However, there are two main questions to consider before you track someone's phone: does the other person have a reasonable expectation of privacy and have they given their consent? If someone hasn't given their consent and you still proceed to track their phone, then your actions are illegal.
You can legally use some GPS tracking apps to monitor someone else's location, as long as they are aware of it and you have their consent. These apps must produce notifications that require the mobile phone user's consent before the location tracking is activated. You can also track your own mobile phone so that you can find it if you lose it.
Some official authorities can track an individual's mobile phone remotely, such as the police and M15. This must be done after they have obtained a court-issued warrant. The police can also access information that you have submitted to the cloud, which can be done without your permission or knowledge, as long as they have a court-issued warrant.
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It is a system that uses a network of satellites that orbit the Earth, which can help track a building, object or person's location. It was originally used by the military but became available for public use in the 1980s. GPS is commonly used to help drivers navigate from one location to another by displaying a virtual map and instructions.
Many wearable devices, such as smartwatches as well as mobile phones, use GPS to help track distance travelled and their speed. Popular mobile apps, such as Snapchat, also have a feature that tracks the user's location and displays it for their friends and family to see on a virtual map.
There are a number of laws when it comes to tracking someone or something through GPS. It is legal to track a vehicle or object if it belongs to you or your business. Employers must inform their staff if they are being tracked by GPS and must ensure that the monitoring is only used for business purposes.
Can I turn off GPS tracking?
Due to the security concerns of GPS, there are ways that you can turn off features to stop your phone from using GPS. One way to do this is to put your phone in Flight Mode, as this will turn off your phone's cellular and Wi-Fi radios. You can also disable your phone's GPS radio. Some phones have GPS as a separate setting, while others incorporate it in other settings such as Location or Privacy settings. You might also find that GPS is automatically disabled when you put your phone into Flight Mode.
When you go into your Location or Privacy settings, you might find that many of your apps use location services to track where you are. Although this is helpful for some apps, such as Google Maps, other apps like games don't necessarily need to know your location. It's a good idea to check which apps are following your location so that you can turn off unnecessary tracking.
Alternatively, you can turn off your phone and remove the battery to ensure that you can't be tracked through the device. Applications on your phone must always ask for permission to use your location, so if you find any suspicious activity, you should delete the app immediately. It's important to file a report with the police if you think that you are being illegally or maliciously tracked.
There are various online GPS phone tracker apps that you can download onto your own or someone else's device that is perfectly safe and legal (as long as you have the user's permission to track the phone).
There are some third-party apps that have the specific purpose of tracking mobile phones, such as Apple's Find My app. This app helps users to pinpoint the location of devices on a virtual map so that they can be retrieved if they are lost or used as a way to identify a person's location.
Some social media apps, such as Snapchat and Instagram, use GPS tracking to help track where users are and place location tags on photos and videos. This helps to show different perspectives of events and locations as the media is grouped together under the same location tag.
Cell Tower Triangulation can be used to track a mobile phone's location. The phone's signal can ping at three or more cell towers, which enables Cell Tower Triangulation. After the triangulation occurs, the signals overlap with each other, which can help create an estimation of where the mobile phone is.
The average accuracy of Cell Tower Triangulation is usually between 500m and 1500m, which makes it less accurate than GPS tracking. However, triangulation is more accurate in urban areas because there is a higher concentration of cell towers, which means that the triangulation covers a smaller area, and a mobile phone can be located with greater accuracy.
Many global companies such as Google and Apple use Wi-Fi to identify users' locations. Smartphones have background location services that seek out Wi-Fi points to connect to, to which they then Wi-Fi addresses, as well as the location that has been identified by GPS or Cell Tower Triangulation.
Urban areas generally have hundreds of Wi-Fi points, which lets companies such as Google and Apple locate where your phone is based on the strength of the Wi-Fi signals that your phone is picking up. Wi-Fi positioning usually has between 10 and 25m accuracy in urban areas and between 20 and 100m accuracy in sub-urban areas.
It can be disconcerting if you think someone is tracking your phone without your knowledge or permission. There are a number of red flags to look for that could point to your phone being compromised. Below is a list of some signs to look out for:
You may notice that your phone suddenly takes a long time to load applications or for the keypad to work. Although these could be signs that your phone needs to have a storage clean or that the device is old, they could also point to someone tracking your movement on your phone.
Battery drains quickly
Tracking software takes a lot of space and resources when they run in the background. Mobile phone battery life tends to decrease over a period of time, but it could be a sign that someone is tracking your phone if you notice a sudden reduction in your mobile's battery power retention.
Large data reduction
Someone who is secretly tracking a phone will want to receive regular updates about the movements and activity of the phone user. This would use up a lot of data, which would be especially noticeable if you don't use your mobile data often. You might be contacted by your phone provider if you have exceeded your data limit or if you are on a limited phone plan. They might also contact you if you are on an unlimited plan and they notice that your device has started to use a larger amount of data than usual.
You may notice a strange app on your phone that you don't remember downloading. It could be a sign that someone has installed spyware or malware onto your device and is using it to track your activity and location.
These signs may be perfectly innocent, but they could also indicate that someone is tracking your phone. You should seek help from the authorities if you are concerned that your phone has been hacked.
Unlike mobile phone numbers, landline numbers feature an area code that is unique to each city or region. Area codes are between two to five digits long and are located at the beginning of a phone number, after a zero. You can google the area code to identify the landline phone number location and, therefore, where someone is calling from, which could give you a better idea of who is trying to contact you.
You could also google the whole number and see if it is flagged as a legitimate company or a known scam number. Most mobile phones and landlines offer a feature that allows you to block specific phone numbers so that they can no longer reach you.
Below is a sample of some of the area codes in the UK:
|(020) xxxx xxxx
|(024) xxxx xxxx
|(029) xxxx xxxx
|(0113) xxx xxxx
|(0114) xxx xxxx
|(0121) xxx xxxx
|(0131) xxx xxxx
|(0141) xxx xxxx
There are various ways that you can track someone's phone, as long as you have their permission. Certain authorities, such as the police, are able to track an individual's phone if they need to as part of an investigation. This can be done without the individual's permission or knowledge, but the authority must have obtained a court-issued warrant before doing so.
You can work out a landline phone number's location by looking at the area code. Cities and regions across the UK each have their own unique area code that proceeds the rest of the number. You can look the area code up online to identify where in the UK the call is coming from to help you work out who might be calling you.
There are three main ways that authorities and apps can track a target device. GPS, Cell Tower Triangulation and Wi-Fi positioning can help locate mobile phones and other smart devices with varying degrees of accuracy. GPS uses satellites to pinpoint locations, whilst Cell Tower Triangulation relies on three or more cell towers to pick up the signal from a mobile phone. Wi-Fi positioning picks up on which Wi-Fi signals a phone is connecting to and transmits the data to the companies that own the data.