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Who's stalking: what to know about mobile spyware

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Do you think an abusive partner or ex is monitoring you through your phone? They might be using stalking apps (spyware) that secretly track your devices. Here’s information about what stalking apps are, how to tell if they’re on your device, and what to do if they are.

What are stalking apps?

Stalking applications are apps or software that someone can download onto your phone to track or monitor you. They can share detailed information about your phone activities – like phone conversations, text and email messages, photos, and account passwords – without your knowledge. Some stalking apps also advertise that they can turn on a phone’s microphone and camera remotely so that the monitoring person can see and hear what’s happening around the phone, even when it’s not being used.

How can I tell if a stalking app is installed on my phone?

If an abuser has installed a stalking app on your phone, your phone will probably look the same. No new icon will be displayed, and most anti-virus software won’t detect it. But these clues may suggest that a stalking app could have been installed:

  • The abuser has had physical access to your phone;
  • The abuser knows a lot of very specific information about you, including your exact locations, the content of conversations you’ve had, what you’ve texted and to whom, and what you’ve searched for online;
  • The phone’s battery drains faster, without any difference in your phone usage;
  • There are unexplained data usage charges on your bill; or
  • You have trouble turning off the phone.

What can I do if I think a stalking app is installed on my phone?

If there’s a stalking app on your phone, here are some steps to consider:

  • Get help. Law enforcement and domestic violence advocates can help you if you believe a stalking app has been installed on your phone. 
  • Check to see if your phone has been “rooted” or “jailbroken.” Stalking apps aren’t sold through typical app stores. In addition, they usually can be installed only on a phone that has been “rooted” or “jailbroken,” which allows a person full control over the phone’s operating system. If your phone is rooted or jailbroken and you didn’t do it, a stalking app could be installed. “Root checker” apps can quickly tell you whether a phone has been rooted or jailbroken. 
  • Back up your phone. Before making any changes to your phone, consider backing it up, which could help to save any potential evidence of abusive behavior. Local law enforcement may be able to help you to preserve evidence. However, do not sync your backup to a new phone, to prevent the spyware from reinstalling.
  • Reset your phone.  The only way to effectively remove a stalking app from a phone is to reset it and re-install the manufacturer’s operating system.

Remember that taking any of these steps could tip-off your abuser – especially if you use your phone to research your options, make a call, or have a conversation near your phone. If you are concerned your phone might be monitored, consider leaving it behind when you are seeking help. Do what is best in your particular situation.  

Want to learn more? Check out our technology tips for domestic violence and stalking victims and the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s technology safety tips. Additional help is available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you think you might be in danger right now, call 911.

Comments

All my phone's have been hard restart and clean from encryption from pc hard drives to sd . That's what anyone would say. Say if you had a new phone would you read all policies and terms. Would you check out the voip for different phone numbers that were packets getting send to you. Should which I can't see the txt like just now my phone I can't see the words you check if the txt fro. Website and select all to see the words are placed right or if it's not clear. Or why ppl have been getting random calls.

09/24/2016 @ 6:20 pm received a phone call from 000-000-0000, 09/25/2016 phone beeping, had to recharge it. How do I reset phone?

The instructions that came with your phone should explain how to reset it.

As I purchased prepaid phone cards at Walmart for my straight talk phone. I've noticed that they are shorting me seven days a month and since I'm totally disabled..it really stinks..might suggest u look into it.

If you bought something that wasn't as advertised, you can report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Your comments here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

This has happened to me for the last 4 years. I am so frustrated & paranoid. Got to the point where I turn off my phone when I get home and place it in between the mattress.

This person always says indirect comments about what's going on in my personal life, kids life or about things me and my husband talk about in private! I am so drained and don't know what steps to take without looking crazy.... This person is invading my privacy then evily spreads rumors about my personal life. How can I finally stop all this, it's my word with no evidence. This person walks in building daily looking very mad at me only no one else. Says Indirect comments about my personal relationship and where abouts! Please help me, I've left my phone many times at my desk but since this started getting worse I turn my phone off during those hours just hoping my husband and kids don't have an emergency. What can I do? I've change my number twice but in certain situations you have no choice but to give your number out for emergencies. I'm tierd, drained don't know what else to do... This person acts mad at me daily walks in the door acting like I did something to him/her. A lady there told me this person likes to set up traps for people and likes investigating people. This is my only prove so far besides how crazy this person is making me feel by all the indirect comments he makes about my personal life and kids.

STOP!, getting into my personal matter for identify personal mobile or Internet and thank you!

How can I check my phone to see if it's stalking apps on THERE

I was being tracked by my ex. I changed my number. How can I tell?

I am stalked

Hi I'd like to check for stalking apps on my phone

Who should you contact if law enforcement has been notified and they do not seem concerned unless you are physically being threatened?

You can read the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s technology safety tips. Additional help is available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

My iPhone,computer and survailance is hacked. They have control over everything. Locked up my email accounts. Police won’t help at all. They canceled internet and arlo accounts and more. Pretending to be whoever I call. Hopeless and in danger. Pfa on husband. He and another have been destroying my property and everything I own. No one will help. Lots of evidence but no one will look. No heat. Freezing. 55 inside. Scared

Wow! I just read your post and had to go back to see if I had written it and somehow forgotten about it. What you described is almost identical to what I've been going through for almost a full year. Have you gotten help?

The same thing is happening to me , my wife and her. New man she swears she doesn’t have . They have broken everthing I own and have access to all my camera phone everthing , saying I’m crazy . But I have pitchers to help rove her wrong

Im going through the same thing. Ive gotten new phones, laptops, locks and nothing seems to stop this guy. I've caught video on him a few times come to find out it dissapeared. It's an old roommate of mine and I don't get it. Why? Is it funny

Wow, I stumbled across this blog and couldn’t believe there are so many people going through exactly what I’m going through and have been for the last three years but of course nothing is going on and all my pictures seem to disappear everything is hacked and there’s nothing I can do about it somebody please help me!

Mine just disapear as well same thing and o been at this for 6 yrs now

I been going through same for over a year.nobody will listen to me,feel I'm going crazy.or in danger

Same here, invading my whole life... air and finally. I had enough. My next step is the police department.

Me to. Police I swear want to make you look like you're crazy. Guess they don't wanna do the paperwork. Have you gotten help?

The police like to pretend that these types of crimes dont happen in a given area. The more upscale/affluent the more they brush it off. I was simply told to change my e mail & phone number & the lieutenant slammed the door & went back in the station.

I tried explaining that HARD installed spyware doesn't work like that.

i have been int his situation and it is happening again except my city helped. I need to call this hotline and am doing so tonight. i just suspended my service and getting a new phone n number in AM so have to reinstate my service then can call. what happened w u?? my ex was from 3 years ago, owned a computer company and it took me almost 2 out of the 5 years we were together to strategize how to leave without destroying my and EVERYONE elses lives around me. now hes starting up againbc he figured out my new numner. mind u i moved almost 150 mi away when he stalked me 3 yrs ago and still live out here so he doesnt care

I am going through things on all my tech. stuff, laptop, cell phones, etc. they do whatever they want. its been going on two years now. I've been to the police 4 times. they said well thats imposible.... they have no clue then, i know what has happen to me. I've tried about everything. can not get any help. they live my life. they control my info. and it hasn't really been a money thing, they like controling me. I'm scared at what is going to happen to me and my son,I even called 911 one night and was in total panic, then we got disconnected and 911 never showed up. then the director of dispatch after the third call to them asking why left me a meassage saying that it was handeled on the inside and they couldnt share any into with me. I thought there was someone in my house I was panicing. what is going on. i need help so i can block my number going out and coming in.

That's funny I'm dealing with the same thing now and have been dealing with it for 7 years straight.

I don't have an email because every time I set up a new one he hacks into it and changes the password and keeps all of my emails in one account. he has all of my information and is stealing everything I own. He even hacks into every cell phone I get and downloads all of these apps onto it somehow and I cannot get help with it.

Awesome !!!! I'll be sharing this info

This is really fantastic info Thank you

True artist of cryptology will use a cycle U.I. OR OPERATING SYSTEM. BEST TIPS I CAN TELL YOU YOU IS HAVE UR WIFI N BLUETOOTH ALWAYS OFF. USE WI-MAXX COMPUTATION, USE A FAKE O.S. SO WHEN UR HACKED THERE IN YOUR MAZE... AMAZING, AMAZE THEM! P.S. FOR BEGINNERS USE AFASTER CPU BIT BY BIT COMPUTATION. PROTECT AND LEARN EVERYTHING REGARDING ISDN. P.S.S. AT THE END IF THE DAY ITS ALK electromagnetic waves don't throw away the other half of Maxwell's equations, analyse them. Bc even broken clocks are tight twice a day. Hint standard division is wrong, that's why you end up having to do an ad-hoc renormalization process

Your very smart. My x is stalking me. Somehow he can mess with my electrical of my home. Theres either a sonic nausea or hes hacked into the apartments n causes me to be very sick but only in certain areas of my home. Gmail me please. Please .please ty

We don't post personal email addresses on the blog.

You can read these technology tips for domestic violence and stalking victims, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s technology safety tips.

You can get more help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you think you are in danger right now, call 911.

Hi, the comment about electricity got to me. I have spyware from my ex (can’t get rid of even through a phone reset). I also have my HVAC tampered with abs have found 3 different instruction manuals left for my Lenox HVAC when I had none. I know surveillance through HVAC engineering can be done but I don’t know how, I am not a computer engineer. Finally, I also have electricity that connects to my phone and WiFi. This has happened in two homes that are not smart homes — one is from the 1980s. In my case, my ex took everything, including my kids, and keeps stalking me. The end result is not going to be stalking, it’s going to be the end of me. Because it is so high tech, police (including FBI) think I have made it up. I have not even mentioned the HVAC or electricity connecting to cell to them. Not sure what to do. My kids were taken and they are now with this lunatic, who continues to aggressively but stealthily stalk, and aggressively destroy my finances and identity, and is now beginning to do the same to my 19 year old daughter. Any thoughts are appreciated.

Hi I can really use a good friend.. I'm going thru the exact same problems and I'm grateful to have come across your comment because everyone thinks I'm delusional I need help he took my son ruined my reputation gets me for child support stalks me harms me electroniclly abuses my systems manipulates me controls me by hiding behind several many false identities it's hard to explain the technology and master manipulation that goes on behind the scenes ,I'm in hell he broke me and now I feel unsafe I wish I could get my son back from this psycho I need help any advice

Hi!! I've been reading this cause my husband is stalking me in some crazy technology bs. I can't figure it out and he has everyone thinking I'm crazy. The electrical stuff u said rang home because some how he makes me vibrate. Its usually when I'm sitting or laying. He just got 2 yds in prison for beating me. He is taking HVAC classes right now. Has ur case gotten any better?

What did you finally do to fix this???

Wow! I need ur help!

I'm not concerned with being stalked by an ex, rather I'm concerned with being "stalked" by the US government. What is the FTC doing to get the NSA, FBI, and etc to stop spying on the American people?

I got a government phone like 4 days ago and after reveiwing the account online i noticed activity on the account before i got it. it was 4 sms 6245. was it spyware?

Wait, You're asking ANOTHER govt beaurocracy to spy on the spies, crazy

The govt has been spying on its citizens for decades. They've recorded EVERY cell call and EVERY text msg for nearly 20 years. Yes they can do it, are doing itand will keep doing it. Thank Edward Snowden for that info

The ONLY way to ensure online privacy is to not go online. Forget your TOR browser and do not track. The US DOD originally built the internet for military use. You really think they don't have a back door to about everything.

If you believe that, I've got some bridges to sell you

I have been spied on now for over 10 years, first it was my husband he is now dead and now it is me. My laptop. phone and car. The police do nothing. It is criminal gangs and govt.

How do you find out?

Nothing I been thru 3 phones still on my phone and all setting lock on of every thing I had to every file email putter my unemployment and idk what’s-going on I’m recorded everything what the creator it’s too much on

I feel this in My soul

Privacy act of 74 means alot.

.....good to know.

Please fix this problem

This is very good information. Very helpful! Even though I'm not being stalked or anything, and even if you aren't this is useful information to carry around with you incase you know someone who is.

I was stalked by this method as well as other technology methods completely unaware!!! The problem began as far back as our dating, then well into our early marriage. I went to my local police and they were stumped of what to do. I divorced him and changed all devices including the car I drive. Everything was wired and bugged.

I've been stalk for over three years plus by Barbara brown last known workplace was at mc Donald's in fort mc Murray Ab she now as one of her male friends stalking my family and our mobile phones remotely they can change my password block my call and text email modify the phone os and so an the most disgusting part is when you are on a call and they hold down the dial tone button if there is any info how to get them behind bars please post the info thanks

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