Phone tapping is not exactly a new technology. The methods and techniques, however, have evolved through the years as new technological innovations emerged. Read on to learn more about phone tapping – including the methods, legal implications, and red flags a phone tapped.
What Is Cell Phone Tapping?
Cell phone tapping involves methods that bypass the safety and security protocols of a device. Essentially, cell phone tapping is unauthorized access to a mobile device. There are, however, instances where wiretapping is sanctioned or authorized.
Instances may arise, where you feel there’s a need to tap a cell phone. Perhaps you want to listen to someone’s phone calls discreetly to know what they’re up to. Or maybe you’re looking for some answers. Of course, we have to address the fact that some people tap phone calls for their own malicious reasons.
Here are some instances where wiretapping is justifiable and legal.
- Child Monitoring
Typically, concerned parents may want to tap into their child’s phone to monitor who they are connecting with. This might often be triggered by unusual or sudden changes in their child’s behavior. If getting kids to open up doesn’t work, parents then resort to phone tapping. This typically involves just viewing their child’s call history and not listening in on phone calls. In many instances, parents have been able to save their kids from cyberbullies and child predators.
- Employee Monitoring
Employers may want to tap their employee’s company devices to keep track of their activities during work hours. The focus of such tracking is to oversee conversations to prevent data leakage, ensure employee productivity, and promote excellent customer support. Employers are required to disclose to employees the tracking of company devices and gain their permission before doing so.
Can A Cell Phone Be Wiretapped?
So, can you really wiretap a targeted phone and listen in on conversations? Yes, you certainly can. The question you should be asking is whether it’s possible to do it remotely and without being detected? Technological advancements have allowed people to do just that. Some people springboard on various technological innovations to come up with wiretapping processes and techniques.
As previously mentioned, wiretapping can either be:
- Unauthorized Wiretaps
As the name implies, this covers illegal wiretapping methods. Mostly, this means the parties involved are being recorded without their knowledge (although there are exceptions to this rule). This covers any wiretapping activities for malicious purposes like stealing information or with the intent to exploit the involved parties.
- Authorized Wiretaps
This includes sanctioned wiretapping by, let’s say, companies to check for bugs or other vulnerabilities and loopholes in their system. It can also include telephone companies allowing the interception of communication for law enforcement purposes under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). In general, this covers court-sanctioned wiretaps and phone taps where at least one party (both parties in some states) is aware a call is being tapped.
3 Ways of How To Tap Phone Calls
Technological innovations paved the way for a myriad of things including wiretapping methods and techniques. The method or process you use will depend on some things including the extent of phone call monitoring you want to do. It could also depend on the extent of your technological prowess. Of course, you also need to take into consideration how your purpose and method fit with current laws in place.
There are various wiretapping methods you can choose from, which we do not condone if done so illegally. Some are certainly more difficult to execute. No need to worry though because there are also easy and convenient methods you can use. This time, we will cover three phone tapping methods. They may vary in difficulty levels and be subject to different restrictions but essentially allow you to do the same thing – tap phone calls.
- Tracking or Recording Device
Tracking or recording devices typically come in the form of small chips. This makes it easier to plant them into the targeted phone’s hardware. This is rather useful technology; however, some people use them to listen in on conversations without the consent of the involved parties.
These devices are often utilized by law enforcement agencies to obtain evidence of criminal activities. In some instances, tracking and recording devices are also utilized by business owners in the shipping and/or delivery industry.
- Hacking Software
This next method requires more in-depth knowledge of technology, particularly in coding and programming. This method is typically done by IT specialists and professional programmers. Of course, evil-minded hackers can also exploit this kind of technology. We say evil-minded hackers because there are actually what we call ethical hackers.
Ethical hackers, along with IT specialists and professional programmers, will often utilize hacking software to test a system’s integrity. Using multi-layered codes and algorithms, hacking software is used to identify system vulnerabilities. This is a crucial step in developing or strengthening a system’s security.
- Use a Monitoring and Spy App
Phone monitoring apps or spy applications are perhaps the easiest and most convenient tools one can utilize in tapping phone calls. Of course, you’ll need a spy app compatible with the target device. For instance, if you want to tap an Android device, make sure to get monitoring software that supports the particular Android device and version being wiretapped.
Spy apps highlight the legal or acceptable reasons behind phone tapping. This is because such apps are often utilized as parental control or child monitoring tools. It can also be utilized in keeping call records of a business’s customer support. Furthermore, it can be utilized during investigations, granted all legal permissions or warrants are acquired.
One of the best and most convenient things about spy apps is you can do more than just view a device’s call history. Parents and even employers can also utilize it to keep tabs on text messages, social media activities, web browsing history, and more. Note that phone monitoring and spy apps today typically do not allow the recording of phone calls, only the call history and details like date/time, call duration, and phone number.
Is Call Recording or Cell Phone Tapping Legal?
As previously mentioned, call tapping or wiretapping can either be authorized or unauthorized which means they could be legal or illegal.
In the USA, the WireTap Act as amended by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in 1986, makes it illegal to secretly record any face-to-face conversations, telephone calls, emails, texts, or electronic communication that is ‘reasonably expected to be private.’ It also states, though, that a private citizen can intercept a communication “where such person is a party to the communication.” Some two-party consent states require you to disclose any recording you might do to everyone involved.
Here are some cases in connection with wiretapping that are considered a felony
- Intent to Wiretap
It’s a felony to “intentionally intercept” wire, oral, or electronic communications with the use of wiretapping equipment. The penalty could range from imprisonment of not more than five years to fines of up to $250,000 (individual) or $500,000 (organizations).
- Possession of Illegal Wiretapping Equipment
It’s a felony to “manufacture, distribute, possess, [or] advertise” wire, oral, or electronic intercepting devices. Penalties are the same as the penalties for intent to wiretap.
- Disclosure of Information from Unlawful Wiretapping
It’s a felony to use or disclose information obtained from illegal wiretapping. The penalties are the same as above.
- Other Penalties
Any illegal equipment or device may also be forfeited. Also, if monetary loss or gain is associated with the wiretapping incident, the offender might be asked to pay an alternative fine of not more than twice the amount of loss or gain. Also, the aforementioned felony charges will be charged as separate offenses.
How To Know If Your Phone Is Tapped
You probably now realize that with the availability of wiretapping technologies, someone can be tapping into your calls too. Don’t worry though because we’ll also be covering some of the tell-tale signs that your phone is being tapped.
Here are some red flags to look out for.
- Unusual Background Noise During Phone Calls
Gone are the days when static noises were common during phone calls. If you hear unusual background noises or even far-off voices during phone calls, that might be a sign a third party is intercepting your communication. Weird noises may include clicking or scratching sound, static noise, echoes, choppy lines, or voice feedback.
- Unusual Phone Activities
When your phone calls are being tapped, your device is being hacked. This could mean that whoever is listening to your calls could have remote access to your phone. Unusual phone activities could range from taking over your banking and social media apps to random lighting up or unlocking of devices when in idle mode.
- Receiving Weird Text Messages
In some cases, hackers must send codes or algorithms to the target device to activate the wiretapping program. These are typically sent via text messages from unknown numbers. These messages seem like gibberish that contain random numbers, alphanumeric keys, and the like. In some instances, people in your contacts might also be receiving the same messages from your number.
- Fast-Draining Battery Life
If your battery suddenly seems to drain more easily than usual, there might be programs running in the background. That program could very well be a call recording program or spy app.
- Spike in Data Usage
Call recording apps will typically send the recordings to their server using your data. So if your data usage suddenly spikes and there’s no change in your WI-Fi or online activities, check for a call recording app.
Related Article: How To Spy On Phone Calls