Personal whereabouts tracing allows you to locate people and valuable possessions that may have been lost or stolen. It also helps you to feel safe when your loved ones are out and about.
Individuals’ location data is used to create profiles that are monetized by secondary market participants. Most of this tracking occurs without an individual’s knowledge or consent.
Location Tracking Apps
Most smartphone users are comfortable with apps monitoring their location. This data is largely used for convenience, like finding nearby restaurants or getting personalized advertising. It also helps improve communication and safety, especially when traveling.
Apps can track a person’s location using GPS technology to pinpoint their exact coordinates on the Earth’s surface. The information is then sent to the app’s servers where it is stored for later use. For example, some streaming TV apps require a user’s location to confirm they are in the right region to access geo-restricted content. Similarly, car insurance companies may use location tracking to analyze driving behavior and determine a discount.
One such app that helps people practice personal safety is Life360. This app is designed to keep families and friends connected with real-time location sharing, geofencing and more. The free app allows families to add friends and family members into private groups called “Circles.” Once a member joins a Circle, the other members can see their real-time location on a map and receive notifications if they haven’t moved in a while.
While this feature is useful, some people are concerned about the privacy risks associated with it. For example, some worry that their locations could be hacked by malicious hackers. Others worry that their location information might be used by sex offenders or criminals. Businesses should consider these concerns when developing an app with location-tracking features.
If you suspect you are being tracked, document what you can. For example, if you suspect you’re being stalked by a work colleague, write down when and where they seem to show up unexpectedly at your workplace or home. This information can help your employer understand the situation. Employers can also track the location of employees’ personal phones if they are being used for work purposes.
Make a list of all the known names of the person you are tracking. This will include nicknames, birth and married names. Also, note any career related changes to the person’s professional profile or business connections. Also, try to note any special interests the person may have. These interests could place them on a professional or special interest network that could be traceable online.
Conduct an online search of the person using websites that allow searches for people based on names, locations and other information. These sites can link you to former friends, family members or business associates who may be able to provide further information about the person’s current whereabouts.
Most people aren’t able to stop a scammer from calling, but they can help make the process more difficult by refusing to provide personal information over the phone. Never give out account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information unless you have a written statement from the company or government agency.
Cell phone users are especially vulnerable to tracking because of the volume of information they generate by using their devices, including calls and messages. When you place a call, your device sends a signal to the nearest cell tower, revealing your approximate location and allowing the call to be routed to its destination. This is possible whether you have GPS enabled or not.
If you receive a call that seems suspicious, try calling the number that appears on the caller ID and ask for the person’s name. This method can help you quickly verify that a caller is legitimate, and it can be particularly useful if the caller claims to represent a bank, insurance company or other business.
If you suspect a fraudulent call, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. The commission analyzes complaint data and trends to identify illegal callers based on their patterns. It also investigates reports of telemarketing, debt collection and other illegal callers and works to shut down their accounts.
Many social media apps can track your location through geo-tagging, Facebook posts or messages, Instagram stories and other features. You can prevent social media apps from tracking your location by turning off the app’s locations settings. You can also use a virtual private network to avoid using public Wi-Fi or cellphone towers.
Your phone may also broadcast your location based on the networks you connect to, such as your office, home or favorite café. For example, if your phone pings a Starbucks, the company may know you’re nearby and send you an offer for a discounted latte. The same applies to the restaurants, shops and other businesses you frequent, such as your doctor’s office or gym.
People who use hook-up apps and dating websites to meet partners can also give away valuable personal information about their whereabouts on the app or site. These apps can track your location through the messages you receive and your profile details such as where you’re located, your gender and age.
While some of this information might be helpful to law enforcement, it could also be used by jealous spouses, stalkers and criminals who want to find their victims. For this reason, it’s a good idea to monitor online groups or fan sites where debtors hang out to ensure their location isn’t being revealed publicly.