Can My Phone be Tracked If Location Service Is Off?

Your smartphone includes built-in location services, which are helpful if you lose it or use an app that requires your location. What if you don't want your phone tracked? Can you find the phone if you turn off location services? Yes, it is possible to track mobile phones even when location services are disabled.

track phone location service is off

Turning off your phone's location service can help you hide your location. It is vital if you do not want third parties to know where you are or track your movements. A smartphone can still be tracked using other techniques that reveal its general location. Keep reading to know-how.

Part 1. How Does Location Tracking Work

Cell phone location technology can be helpful when looking for the nearest gas station, but it can also allow others to obtain information about your whereabouts, legally or illegally.

One method of tracking your location is to use wireless signals to triangulate your position between cell towers. Another way is to use your phone's GPS radio to pinpoint your location. A third method approximates your current location by using the Wi-Fi hot spot to which you are connected.

Disabling any of these features can help prevent tracking if you suspect you are being tracked using your cell phone. Let us explain how these methods work in detail below;

GPS

A GPS tracking device is a portable unit that allows users to track and monitor its location. These devices are most commonly used as car tracking systems in vehicles.

While tracking devices and in-car navigation systems are similar, there are key differences. GPS navigation systems display drivers' locations on a digital map and provide driving instructions to get them to a specific location. GPS trackers, on the other hand, use GPS technology to track a vehicle's current location and trip history. The GPS information is then transmitted to a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

GPS vehicle tracking

GPS trackers communicate with a network of satellites to determine their location. The tracker employs trilateration, which determines latitude, longitude, elevation, and time by comparing the positions of three or more satellites in the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network.

It is simple to learn how to use a GPS tracker. The tracker is typically powered in the vehicle by the onboard diagnostics (OBD-II) connector, a cigarette lighter, accessory socket, or an internal battery. The data it collects is then transmitted to software, which allows the user to aggregate and analyze it.

How do GPS trackers interact with software? Some are active trackers, which means they can provide users with real-time global positioning data. This tracker can be integrated into a managed service.

Passive trackers are typically less expensive than active trackers because they store GPS data to be viewed later.

Wi-Fi Connection

Even if it is not connected to a Wi-Fi network, a smartphone with Wi-Fi enabled communicates with nearby Wi-Fi networks. Your device automatically scans nearby Wi-Fi access points and records signal strength.

Wi-Fi connection

The provider frequently asks you to consent to location tracking when using public Wi-Fi; when you are in the range of one of its hot spots, that Wi-Fi provider will record your location.

To use public Wi-Fi while protecting your privacy, connect to a VPN. Your IP address and physical location are also kept private by the VPN.

Cell Towers or Cell-Site Simulators

Cell site simulators, also known as stingrays, simulate cellphone towers. They deceive your phone into pinging it, transmitting its location, and identifying data. By sharing a stronger signal than the cell towers, stingrays cause cellphones to connect to them rather than legitimate cell towers.

Stingrays are frequently used by law enforcement to locate and track potential suspects. Stingrays connect data from all phones in the vicinity of the device while attempting to connect to a specific individual.

cell towers

There are over 300,000 cell towers in the United States. Signals travel back and forth to the nearest cell tower when you use your phone. Cell carriers can determine your phone's general location by measuring the time it takes for a signal to travel back and forth.

Carriers use cell tower triangulation, which combines location data from three cell towers to get a more accurate reading. This technology was created to assist 911 operators in locating callers. It finds the phone within a 300-meter radius.

Part 2. Can My Phone Be Tracked If Location Service Is Off?

The question is a technical one; after all, turning off location services on your phone is supposed to make it untraceable. However, this is not always the case, as your device can still be tracked in other ways like using triangulation of signals with cellular data.

Turning off your device's built-in location service does an excellent job of concealing your location. On the other hand, trackers can use different technologies and techniques to reveal your device's location, whether or not location services are enabled.

Part 3. How Do I Know If Someone Is Tracking My Phone?

While many reasons for tracking a phone's location information are natural, such as locating a loved one, scammers and hackers may track phones to steal personal data.

Fortunately, some telltale signs can assist you in determining whether your phone is being tracked. Here are four ways to know your phone is being tracked below;

Additional Applications

Someone may have tampered with your phone if it has unfamiliar apps. The unknown app could be spyware.

Unprompted Action

An app may run in the background if your phone launches activities you did not initiate. Sometimes, malware requires your phone to reboot to install updates or change settings.

A phone that randomly restarts lights up or makes noises during calls or texts may be infected with malware.

Battery Drain

When you have spyware on your phone, the program runs in the background and drains your battery. A battery that loses power faster than usual is either an old battery or spyware.

Check the health of your battery to see if it is still functional. Follow the steps to check the battery health of your iPhone. You'll see a maximum capacity score that compares your battery power to when it was brand new. An older phone with a 75 percent battery capacity could explain why your battery loses power throughout the day. However, a virus could be to blame if your battery capacity is 95 percent or higher and drains quickly.

check iPhone battery capacity

Checking the battery health on an Android device is a slightly different process. Depending on your phone manufacturer, you may need to download an app.

Overheating

Using high-processing-demanding apps can cause your mobile device to overheat. A spyware app that tracks the location of your device will use GPS, causing the phone to work harder and overheat. If your smartphone overheats while using it, it could be a sign of malware.

Part 4. How to Block My Phone from Being Tracked

There are numerous reasons why you might want to prevent your phone from being tracked. It could be for reasons of privacy or even security. Here are four suggestions:

Use a VPN to Browse

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to browse the internet anonymously by converting a public internet connection into a private network. When you use a VPN while browsing, your internet data is encrypted, concealing your IP address and physical location. You'll be protected even if you visit a site that collects visitor location data.

Disable Wi-Fi in Public Places

The majority of smartphones prefer to connect to Wi-Fi networks. You may have noticed that your device switched from using your mobile data to using an available Wi-Fi network. If your Wi-Fi is always on, this happens quite frequently.

When you disable your phone's Wi-Fi connection in public places, you eliminate the risk of your device connecting to a Wi-Fi network that collects location data.

Mind Download Sites

Install apps only from official app stores. Other malware distribution methods exist, but the best way to keep them out is to disable app installation from third-party sources and monitor your download sites.

Install an antivirus program to protect your device from malicious apps and files, suspicious websites, and dangerous links.

Examine App Permissions

All apps require specific permissions to function correctly. However, be wary of dubious permission requests. When an app that doesn't need your location data to work asks for location permission, it's a sign that it's doing more than it should.

Uninstall any app that asks for more permissions than you consider reasonable. If you absolutely must use the function, you can find replacements in the app store.

Part 5. How to Stop the Phone Carrier from Tracking My Phone's Location

It's simple for iPhone users to stop the phone carrier from recording your location. Here's how it's done: open Setting > General > About > Diagnostics and Usage, and then tick Don’t Send.

If your are Android phone users, you may need to uninstall Caller IQ which is a root-level application. However, you may can’t find it  since the carriers have made the application invisible to the end user.

Part 6. How to Track Kid's Phone Even If Location Service Is off

Various online monitoring tools for tracking activity on your child's phone and GPS location services exist. One of them is AirDroid Parental Control It can check actions and social media accounts in the background of a phone and track your child's phone even when locations are turned off.

AirDroid Parental Control

Features

  • Monitor your child's phone remotely to ensure friendly conversations.
  • You can check your child's phone in real-time using screen mirroring and casting.
  • With live GPS mapping, you can keep them safe.
  • Instant alerts notify you of your child's geofence activity.

Conclusion

Understanding how to track your phone can help you protect your privacy. However, having a mobile security tool can provide greater peace of mind. However, if you're monitoring for the right reasons, such as ensuring your children's safety, Airdroid Parental Control can be beneficial.

FAQs about Tracking a Phone

Can Your Phone Be Tracked when It is Turned Off?
Elsa
Elsa
When a phone is turned off, it stops sending signals to cell towers, making it difficult to track. However, the last location can be displayed once the service or internet provider is switched back.
Can Your Phone Be Tracked in Airplane Mode?
Elsa
Elsa
Yes, even when your phone is in airplane mode, it can be tracked. While airplane mode disables Wi-Fi and cellular services, it does not disable GPS (a different technology that sends and receives signals from GPS satellites). Disable GPS on your device and enable airplane mode to prevent your phone from being tracked.
Can a Phone Be Tracked Without Sim Card?
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Elsa
Android and iPhone devices can be tracked even with no cell service. Your phone's mapping apps can track its location without an internet connection.
Can My Phone Be Tracked Without a Data Connection?
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Elsa
Without a data connection, both iOS and Android phones can be tracked.
Can I Track My Wife's Phone Without Her Knowing?
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Elsa
Yes, you can. You can install many online monitoring apps to run in the background, like Airdroid Parental Control.
How Do I Track Someone on Google Maps Without Them Knowing?
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Elsa
You simply cannot. To track someone on Google Maps, the person you want to follow must opt-in to share their location, so tracking someone without their knowledge or consent is impossible.
Can Your Phone Be Tracked with Just a Number?
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Elsa
Yes, it can. You could use a free reverse phone lookup service to track the cell phone's location by its number. However, this is not real-time tracking. You won't be able to track the phone user as they move around on a map.
Does Do Not Disturb Turn off Location?
Elsa
Elsa
Yes, as of 2017, it appears to disable location sharing temporarily. To access the Control Center, swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen. Long-press the Focus switch. Select the three-dots icon next to Do Not Disturb.
Can Someone See You Through Your Phone Camera?
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Elsa
Yes, you can be watched through your smartphone's camera. There are several applications available online that can help you spy on someone using their cell phone camera.
Can Anyone See What I'm Doing on My Phone?
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Elsa
It is possible for someone to install spyware on your phone, whether you use an iPhone or an Android smartphone, that secretly tracks and reports on your activity. Someone may even be able to monitor your cell phone's activity without ever touching it.
How Can You Tell if Someone is Tracking You on Find My iPhone?
Elsa
Elsa
There is no way to know if someone is tracking you using Find My iPhone. Someone can only track you if they know your Apple ID and password, so if you suspect someone is following you, change your password, and they won't be able to.
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