Because technology is changing all the time, this article cannot cover every way that an abuser might use technology to locate or threaten someone. If you have any suggestions about ways to improve this article, please send us a message using the feedback form at the bottom of this page.
Even if you don’t think you’re being tracked, you should still be cautious about making your location public.
If you have a smartphone and it’s possible that someone is tracking you, you should turn your phone completely off before you visit a legal aid office or a domestic violence organization.
We’ve recently learned that some women have been tracked through their smartphones because their abuser installed a tracking application or service.
There are dozens of tracking apps available and it’s impossible to list them all. If there is a tracking app on your phone, it may appear in the “Installed Programs” list. But tracking apps are not always easy to spot—sometimes they can be completely hidden unless you know where to look, or they may have a name that sounds like something else (like a game or a photo app).
If you think someone has installed a tracking app your phone, call your cell phone company and ask them to help you restore your phone to factory settings (also known as a “factory reset” or “wiping your phone”). Set a password for your phone and keep it with you at all times. Don’t let anyone use your phone—someone could install a tracking device in just a few minutes.
Many phone companies offer tracking services that can be purchased as part of the phone’s wireless plan. Some cell phone providers will send a message or alert when your phone is trackable, but it’s not safe to rely on these messages and or to assume that you can’t be tracked at other times.
If you think your phone is being tracked through your cell phone provider, it may be best to use a prepaid phone instead. Also, remember that most phones can’t be tracked when they’re turned completely off.