Stalking apps could be on your phone without you knowing it

By Diane Lee (WSPA)

(SPARTANBURG, SC)

Stalking apps allow someone to see where you are, what you text and who you talk to at any time. And you’d never know it.

The spyware is now popping up more frequently in domestic violence cases, so we look into the warning signs, and how to get rid of it in this 7 News Consumer Watch.

If a stalking app was put on your phone, would you know it? Very unlikely, according to tech expert Logan Staggs, who owns Campus Computer in Spartanburg.

“Generally there’s no way to tell without doing a forensic investigation of the data on your phone.”

After all, the tracking apps have no icon.

But behind the scenes the spyware can track your location, see texts, emails and photos, and in some cases record you.

Staggs says the way a client learned about it, is usually the only clue, from the stalker, himself.

“Because he had information that he shouldn’t have, like when she was in NC where she had gone, who she had talked to,” said Staggs.

That story is becoming all too familiar for Leslie Potts, a Legal Advocate for Safe Homes Rape Crisis Coalition in Spartanburg. She says stalking apps are a growing problem for domestic violence victims.

“You feel for these clients, their privacy has been invaded, they have to constantly watch over their shoulder, they have to minimize use of their phone because they’re afraid,” said Potts.

It’s important to note, that not all stalking apps are used for malicious purposes. Parents can use them to track teenagers, or grandparents with Alzheimer’s.

Staggs says if you suspect your phone may have a stalking app, a factory reset would clear it, though some apps block that.

Otherwise, check with your phone carrier and your Apple, iTunes or Google Play/email account for data access logs; evidence that could put the stalker behind bars.

“We downloaded logs from her Gmail account that said when these connections had been made and from where, and they all pretty much tracked to his current home, and we were able to litigate that case.”

Safe Homes can provide legal help to hold stalkers accountable, and help keep victims safe from abusers.