How To Tell If Your Phone Is Tapped: Your Privacy Rights Against The FBI Explained

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
Smartphones are vulnerable to being tapped, especially if they’re jailbroken or have third-party apps installed that are not from a trusted app store. Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

A click here, a static noise there and your phone acting strangely could all be random glitches or it could also be a sign that your device has been tapped and a third party is listening in on your conversations and reading your messages.

Cell phone tapping is when someone gains access to your phone without your permission in order to listen in on your phone conversations.

Any phone can be tapped. Smartphones are particularly vulnerable, especially if they are jailbroken or have third-party apps installed that were not sourced from the App Store or Google Play Store.

In the U.S., the FBI is allowed to tap a person’s phone if the individual is suspected of being part of an organized criminal entity or a terrorism ring.

This, however, can only be done after certain protocols – listed under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 2516 – that would involve getting approval from a federal judge.

The approval can only last for 30 days after which all parties involved must be notified of the tapping in writing.

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But how would you know if your phone has been tapped by a third party? Here are signs that indicate someone may be watching you.

Background noise

Pulsating static, high-pitched humming or other strange background noise experienced when you are making voice calls could be a sign that your phone has been tapped. This is not, however, a sure indicator of third party activity during your call. A sound-bandwith sensor can also help to pick up these interferences at a low frequency.

Sudden drop in battery life

A sudden decrease in your phone’s battery life or a warming battery could also be a sign that a tapping software may be running in the background. Using your phone’s settings to check what is hogging your battery power, especially on a phone that is less than a year old, could give you detailed information on the suspected tapping software.

Strange activity

If your phone starts to turn off and on, installing apps on its own or even lighting up randomly, then there is a possibility that your phone has been tapped. You could also start hearing message notification sounds when your phone is on silent or getting weird text messages including a jumbled series of letters that do not appear to make sense.

A spike in data usage

If there is a sudden increase in your mobile data usage, there could be hidden apps or software vacuuming up huge amounts of data. If you can’t find exactly what’s depleting your data, there may be a third party intercepting your messages and media. Malicious software uses your data allowance to send the information it has collected to an outside source.

Difficulty powering on or off

A tapped phone would also become less responsive or difficult to power on and off as a third party may have gained unauthorized access to your phone. A hacked phone might fail to shut down or have the backlight stay on even after it has been completely shut down.