Location services have become a common feature in mobile devices. However, amidst the constant rumors that everyone and everywhere is watching us, especially through cell phone, individuals may opt to disable or restrict it for various reasons. So, would it be possible to track someone when their location is off?
Yes, there are different options. You can track someone by cell phone number without them knowing while we will discuss other methods, too. So, let’s start.
How Can Someone Track My Phone if My Location is off?
To comprehend how someone can track a cell phone with disabled location services, it is crucial to understand the interplay between various tracking mechanisms. The three primary components involved are phone location services, GPS, and IP address tracking.
- Phone location services rely on a combination of cellular network signals, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth to determine the device's location. When these services are disabled, the device becomes less susceptible to traditional location tracking methods. However, there are alternative means of tracking that can be employed.
- Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system widely used for location tracking. While phone location services often utilize GPS data, it is important to note that GPS can function independently of other tracking mechanisms.
Therefore, disabling phone location services does not necessarily prevent GPS tracking, as GPS signals can still be received and used to determine the device's location.
- When a device connects to the internet, it is assigned an IP address. IP address tracking involves mapping this address to a physical location. While IP address tracking can provide a general location estimation, it is not as precise as GPS or phone location services.
Disabling location services does not directly affect IP address tracking, since it relies on internet connectivity rather than specific device settings.
Tracking Methods When Location is off
Now, let's delve into different methods that can be used to track a device even when its location services are turned off:
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Tracking
As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals emitted by a device can be detected by nearby access points or devices. By analyzing the strength and proximity of these signals, an approximate location can be determined, even when location services are disabled.
- Wi-Fi-based trackers can detect and analyze Wi-Fi signals in their vicinity.
- Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) trackers have gained popularity recently. These small, battery-powered devices can be attached to personal belongings like keys, wallets, or bags. When the associated smartphone with a compatible app comes within range of the Bluetooth tracker, it establishes a connection and records the location.
- Some apps or platforms collect Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signal data from various devices to create a crowdsourced location database. When a user has the app installed and shares their data, it contributes to the database. This information can then be used to determine the location of a device even when its location services are off.
Cell Tower Triangulation
Cell tower triangulation is primarily utilized by telecommunication service providers and law enforcement agencies. This method involves analyzing the signal strength and timing information from multiple cell towers to estimate the device's location. This can be employed even if location services are turned off, as it relies on cellular network data rather than specific device settings.
Tracking via SMS link
Such an SMS-based tracking method is designed to persuade the recipient to enable their location services by following a link provided in the text message.
There are tracking apps and online-services that work by this method. You download it or create an account online, enter the phone number you want to track and send an anonymous message with a link. When the person clicks it, their device begins transmitting location data to the tracking service or application. The recipient's location can then be tracked in real-time or periodically, depending on the settings of the tracking software.
It is a rather user-friendly way of tracking someone’s location by phone number, as it doesn’t require technician knowledge and may be even without installation of any software.
This is a legitimate way to track the location of your loved ones. However, this method requires you to pre-install the family tracker on all the devices you want to track. But then, even when the location is off, the app can help you discover it another way (via Wi-Fi or IP) or at least show you the last known location on a Google Maps.
Social Media and Digital Footprints
Even when location services are disabled, individuals often leave behind digital footprints through their online activities. Social media platforms and other online services can be used to gather information that helps track someone's whereabouts. However, this method relies on voluntary sharing of location information or indirect clues rather than direct device tracking. For example;
- Check-ins and location tags when posting updates, photos, or videos;
- Geotagged photos:
When users take photos with their smartphones, the devices often embed geolocation data in the photo's metadata. If these photos are uploaded to social media platforms without removing or disabling location data, it becomes possible for others to extract the location information from the images.
Spyware and Malware
Spyware and malware are invasive software programs that can be installed on a device without the user's consent or knowledge. These malicious programs can enable unauthorized tracking by bypassing privacy settings and accessing various device functions, including location services. It is crucial to note that the installation and usage of spyware and malware are illegal and unethical in most jurisdictions.
Tracking a device when its location services are disabled is a contentious issue that involves various tracking methods. While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth tracking, cell tower triangulation, and analyzing digital footprints can provide approximate location information, it is crucial to consider the ethical and legal implications of such practices.
Understanding the interdependencies between phone location services, GPS, and IP address tracking provides insight into how tracking methods can be employed even when specific settings are disabled. Obviously, it’s always easier to use the ready-steady service created for such purposes.