These days, a stalker doesn’t have to even touch your cell phone to track your whereabouts. According to the Wall Street Journal, Federal law now requires that most cell phones contain GPS chips and tracking software, technology which has helped the authorities rescue lost drivers and find kidnap victims, and parents to keep tabs on their kids. More than 25,000 people are stalked every year in the U.S. alone, mostly by someone they know. If a stalker has your cell phone number, a computer, and a little know-how about how cell networks work, they can track you down anywhere on the planet.
It’s even easier if you have a family cell phone plan, because whoever’s name is on the account can activate tracking software remotely simply by calling the cellular provider. Like one woman whose abusive husband activated her tracker. The company even texted her to let her know that the tracker had been activated, but she didn’t know what it meant. Her angry husband stalked her for weeks and eventually killed their children. Experts say the only way to stop the stalking is to turn off the phone – and keep it off, because the minute you turn it on, it contacts a cell tower and broadcasts your location. Though cell companies will deactivate the feature if law enforcement informs them the phone’s being used for stalking.
Therapists who work with domestic abuse victims say they’re seeing more and more clients who’ve been stalked via cell phone. At shelters for victims of domestic violence, the very first thing they do when someone arrives is to take their phone apart and dump the pieces in a plastic bag to deactivate the tracker. What’s the fix? If you’re at risk from a stalker, open a new cell account with a new phone and number so they can’t track you down. Don’t install any apps linked to social networking sites like Facebook, Loopt, or Google Latitude, where other people can see where you’re eating lunch, or what event you’ll be attending on Saturday. If they can find the information, they can certainly find you.