Unspeakable Times
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How To Tell If You Are Under Surveillance

Updated October 13, 2018 47.3k views11 items

You're walking home late at night. The street's deserted, but it feels like someone's watching you. You ask yourself, "Am I being followed?"

It's hard to know if you're just paranoid, or if someone really is trailing you. Thankfully, there are more than a few real surveillance techniques you can study to help discern genuine threats from eerie coincidences. 

If you feel like you're being watched, it's important to remember how difficult it is to keep someone under surveillance. If you're correct, the person or entity you think is spying has to bend over backwards to keep tabs on you 24/7.

If you're up to something illegal, then you might have a tail you need to shake. But if you're just a regular person, you probably don't need to worry about anyone secretly watching you. Unless maybe you do. 

  • Photo: US Airforce / AF.MIL

    Tailing People Is Difficult, So It Only Happens Under Extreme Circumstances

    If you think someone is following you, keep in mind that tailing a person takes a lot of time and resources. Local authorities don't want to waste their budget following an average citizen for a minor infraction, so if you think someone's taken an interest in your jaywalking habit, you're probably in the clear.

    However, if you are up to no good and you feel like you're being followed, there are some simple ways to ditch your tail.

    If you're on foot, slow your pace and avoid looking over your shoulder. Act like you don't know you're being followed and make yourself seem uninteresting. If you're driving, the same rule applies. Drive the speed limit (or even a little slower) so your tail has to move on to continue the flow of traffic. 

    You can also change up your route. If someone is following you on foot, take a couple of trips around the block. They'll probably realize you're onto them and back off. If you're driving on the highway, take an exit before performing a similar "around the block" routine. If your tail doesn't get the message you'll more than likely lose them in the shuffle. 

  • Spy Software Can Be Installed On Your Phone

    People are constantly on their phones, so it makes more sense to peek into someone's life via their phone than by following them from place to place.

    Spying on someone through their phone is as easy as installing an app. Spy software tells the person watching you where you go and what you look up on your phone so they can track your every move without ever leaving their home.

    So how do you know if someone has you under surveillance with an app? The signs are all obvious.

    Is your battery life suddenly much shorter? Does your phone get hot when you're not using it? Does it take a long time to turn off? Is your data usage off the charts? If you're experiencing a combination of these things then you may be under surveillance. 

  • Photo: Travis Nicholson! / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Check For Background Noise During Calls

    Background noise during a phone call isn't a clearcut indication of someone listening in on your conversation, but you should still be wary of it.

    If you or the person you're talking to is experiencing bad cell service, then background noise is to be expected. But if you're dealing with a barrage of clicks and beeping noises, it's time to start worrying about recording software. 

    To make wiretapping more difficult, you can pick up a burner phone, although if you do that too often it can be pricey. 

  • Photo: US Airforce / vanderberg

    Look For Garbled Text Messages

    One tell-tale sign of phone surveillance is the appearance of garbled text messages made up of random numbers and letters. You receive these messages like any other text, only they make zero sense.

    Some spyware apps take commands from SMS messages, and these can end up in your inbox by accident for a couple reasons. Either the app is malfunctioning or the person sending the command typed the wrong code.

    If you receive one of these messages then your phone is most likely hacked; it's time to either jailbreak the phone or get a completely new device.