How to Tell If Your Phone Is Tapped

You’ve probably heard about your government security agencies monitoring your activities, including your phone calls and online activity. Better yet, you may have watched a movie in which a detective resorts to phone tapping to figure out what their target criminal is up to.

Like it or not, you can be spied on and your phone tapped for various reasons. Whether by the government, a criminal gang, hackers, or an insecure partner, your phone is a highly valued target for someone out there.

That’s why you should always be alert and ready to take action whenever something unfortunate happens. This blog breaks everything down, including how to tell if your iPhone is tapped and measures you should employ to reduce the risks of being spied on.

Read to learn more!

Understanding phone tapping

Phone tapping can take many forms. It may involve powerful spy software tracking you or other manual means of accessing your device remotely. 

Regardless of your device type—iPhone or Android—someone can secretly track and monitor your phone activity.

One of the most common and easy ways criminals use to tap your phone is by getting you to visit an unsafe site. This may also involve sending you a malicious link that would take you to a page where spyware awaits installation.

Another way is wiretapping. Though less common today due to wireless communication, a wiretap involves physically connecting a wire to your phone’s switchboard. Criminals physically expose a wire from a phone system and connect it to another to receive a similar signal.

Your phone services provider could also facilitate tapping, especially when law enforcement compels them. Many jurisdictions globally permit phone tapping when criminal investigations are ongoing.  Nonetheless, it’s a criminal offense if unauthorized.

How to tell if your phone is tapped and being monitored

Anyone can be the target of a phone tap, including public personalities or regular people. It might be to learn specifics about your personal life or something related to other private or sensitive information.

Regardless of the motive, here are the telltale signs that your phone has been tapped and you’re probably being monitored:

Battery problems

Using your phone for extended periods will significantly impact its battery life. For example, if you use your phone to watch movies, listen to music and podcasts, or even play a game, you can rest assured that it’ll experience significant battery drain.

So yes, your battery can develop various problems, regardless of whether your phone’s been tapped or not. However, your phone suddenly draining its battery power without using it for any resource-consuming activities is a red flag that you shouldn’t sleep on.

Malicious software could run in the background, allowing someone else to listen in. Pay attention to your phone if it consistently runs low on battery. A hacker may have tapped your phone, doing all they can to run spying software in the background.

Suspicious activities

Your phone has probably been compromised with a spy app, and someone may be trying to listen in on your calls if it starts turning on or off by itself or installing apps without your permission. Other suspicious activities you should look out for include:

  • Weird text messages: Weird text messages from unknown senders may indicate someone is trying to tap your phone. This is a common experience, considering some spyware or tapping apps are designed to receive commands via coded SMS messages.
  • Pop-up ads: Unusual pop-up ads are a clear sign that someone is messing with your device. This could be due to spyware or a tapping program. So, be particularly on the lookout for strange advertisements attempting to sell you something.
  • Personal information pops up online: If confidential information kept on your phone has been made public, that is another indicator that it is being tapped. Until you purposefully make it public, photos or other material you’ve safeguarded on your phone should stay there.High mobile data usage 

Regularly monitoring your data usage is considered good practice, especially since some apps use a lot of data. However, it can also help you identify hidden spyware on your phone that is consuming resources in the background.

Most software or tapping apps that hackers use rely heavily on data to upload information stolen from your device to an external source. 

So, unless you’ve changed your mobile habits, someone might be tapping your phone if you notice unexpectedly high data consumption.

Unusual sounds during calls

Your phone conversations are meant to be clear and audible, save for the usual background noise, depending on where the other person is calling you from. Any sound other than that should be a red flag to check your phone for spyware.

Hearing high-pitched, strange high-pitched, strange pulsating sounds could signal that your calls are being recorded. Another indication that someone is actively listening to your discussion in real time is if you hear additional sounds, such as clicking or beeping, even while you are not on the phone.

General performance issues

The more you use your phone, the more performance declines over time. Unless your device is old enough to warrant this, you have every reason to be worried if it suddenly starts performing sub-optimal—someone may have tapped your phone, monitoring you discreetly. 

Consider all the data that these applications send and receive from your device. There’s almost a 100% chance it’ll cause your smartphone to lag. Whether or not your phone has enough storage, too much activity involving information sharing will affect its overall performance.

Websites appearing off

Some malware penetrates your browser by displaying a false web page that appears to be authentic, tricking you into sharing login credentials. Criminals have perfected this phishing scam, considering most people fall prey to social engineering tactics. 

So, any website that appears “off” on your mobile device could be a sign that your phone has been tapped. Someone may have installed malware that acts as a proxy for you and your browser, logging your behaviour. 

Other warning signals include frequent pop-ups even when you use an ad blocker and sites that appear or behave oddly.

How to reduce the possibility of your phone being tapped

While it is impossible to stop someone from tapping your phone, there are several precautions you may take to reduce the chances of being monitored:

Update your phone

Your phone has multiple built-in security features that can shield you from viruses, malware, and eavesdropping. However, they are only functional if your phone is up to date with software patches and upgrades. 

To be safe, enable automatic updates for your phone’s operating system and apps. This reduces the vulnerabilities that someone wishing to hack your phone can exploit. 

Use safe messaging apps to avoid being monitored

Always ensure you’re using safe and original applications for communication. Avoid downloading apps like WhatsApp from sources other than the original vendors. 

Original apps are secure enough that there are few chances that someone might have access to them. Using them is one of the best measures you can take to stop someone from listening to your phone calls and reading text messages.

Use a VPN when browsing online

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to use an encrypted channel, hiding your location and online activities. If your browsing is encrypted, it will be more complicated for someone specifically trying to tap your phone to get access to it.

Delete apps you don’t use

Removing outdated apps is beneficial for more than just maintaining your phone’s performance. It also reduces the chance that someone will tap your phone. 

Applications that you (or someone else) downloaded from a third-party app store or are older may include vulnerabilities just waiting to be exploited. 

Use security software

The purpose of security software is to shield your devices against various forms of malware, viruses, hackers, and other malicious entities. Security software can assist in identifying and eliminating malware from your device if it is being used to tap your phone.

What to do if your phone has been tapped

It is still possible to repair or recover your phone even if someone has tapped it. Here are a few measures you should take:

Turn off airplane mode

Before continuing, it’s a good idea to put your phone in airplane mode if you’re concerned that someone may have tapped it. By turning off the phone’s capacity to connect to cellular or Wi-Fi networks, you can stop additional threats to your security and privacy. 

For Android phones:

  • Launch the Settings app.
  • Select Network and Internet.
  • Go to Advanced.
  • Activate flight mode.

On iPhone:

Depending on your iPhone model, swipe up or down the screen to open the Control Center, then hit the airplane icon.

Open in safe mode

You can reset your phone in safe mode if you discover apps you can’t remove or if spy software-related performance problems have rendered it nearly unusable. You have more control over removing any spying apps in this mode.

Perform a factory reset

Whether it’s an Android or iPhone, returning your device to factory settings should erase any monitoring software. However, make sure you first backup all of your data, including contacts, images, and music.

To reset factory data on your iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Choose Transfer or Reset iPhone.
  4. Select Reset.

Final thoughts

Hackers, criminals, government agencies, or even your partner may employ different tactics to tap your phone. They aim to find out what you’re up to and, to some extent, steal some of your crucial information.

No one is immune to phone tapping. Therefore, it is important to protect sensitive data by employing the above-shared tips to prevent a phone tap. If the situation gets out of hand, consult an expert for detailed guidance to avoid further damage.

Sudeep Bhatnagar
Co-founder & Director of Business
Sudeep Bhatnagar

Talk to our experts who have been running successful Digital Product Development (Apps, Web Apps), Offshore Team Operations, and Hardcore Software Development Campaigns. During the discovery session, we'll explore the opportunities and Scope of the work and provide you an expert consulting on the right options to achieve the outcomes.

Be it a new App Development project, or creation of an offshore developers team, or digitalization of your existing market offerings - You'll get the best advise and service and pricing. We are excited to speak to you!

Book a Call

Let’s Create Big Stories Together!

Mobile is in our nerves. We don’t just build apps, we create brands.

Choosing us will be your best decision.

Relevant Blog Posts