How to Tell If Your Phone Is Tapped

Modern technology has made it easy for anyone -- not just spies and government agencies -- to hijack your private communications. Fortunately, there are ways to tell if you're being monitored.


Up next in How to Make the Most of Your Cellphone (28 videos)

Make the most of your cellphone with these Howcast videos, which teach you how to send a ringtone to your phone; get pictures from a phone to a computer; block calls from unknown phone numbers; send pictures from a computer to a cellphone; track a cellphone; send pictures to Facebook from a cellphone; get Twitter on your phone; and much more.

You Will Need

  • Battery life
  • Battery temperature
  • Strange phone activity
  • Coded messages
  • Background noise
  • Unusual transmissions
  • Unusual interference
  • Serving Area Interface (SAI)
  • Wiretap detection service
  • Battery monitoring phone app (optional)


  1. Step 1

    Check battery life

    Take note of the lifespan of your battery. The phone's battery gets used when it's sending voice or text information to the source of the bug, or if someone is remotely activating the microphone. If the battery life is suddenly significantly shorter than it used to be -- even after getting a new battery -- your phone may be bugged.

  2. There are phone applications available that monitor battery life and history.

  3. Step 2

    Feel your phone

    Check the temperature of your phone. The battery in your cell gets warm when it's being used, so, when you haven't been on the phone, if the phone feels warm, it may have been in use without your knowledge.

  4. Step 3

    Monitor strange activity

    Monitor unusual activity by your phone. If your phone suddenly starts turning on and off by itself, has difficulty shutting down or won't shut down at all, it may be subject to unauthorized use.

  5. Step 4

    Watch for coded text messages

    Watch for coded text messages. If you get a text message that seems like data coding, with numbers and symbols instead of words, this could indicate misdirected attempts at data transmission by someone else.

  6. If you want to make sure your calls and texts remain private, don't just turn your phone off -- take the battery out when you're not using it.

  7. Step 5

    Listen for background noise

    Listen for background noise when you're on a call. Echoes, static, or clicking sounds may be caused by line or transmission interference, or by equipment used by someone tapping your call.

  8. Step 6

    Pay attention to your phone bill

    Inspect your phone bill every month. If it indicates a spike in text or data transmission, someone else may be using it.

  9. Step 7

    Look out for unusual interference

    Watch nearby electronic equipment. It is common for phone transmissions to interfere with signals from other phones, computers, radios, and televisions. However, if electronic interference occurs when you're not using the phone, it may be in use by someone else.

  10. Step 8

    Determine whether your land line is tapped

    Find out if your land line is tapped by locating your Serving Area Interface, also known as a B-Box or cross-connect box. Determine which pair of wires, known as the cable pair, are associated with your phone number, and see if there are any duplicate lines or electronic devices connected to them.

  11. B-Boxes are equipped with locks, but service technicians have passkeys, and many boxes aren't locked at all.

  12. Step 9

    Hire a company to perform a sweep

    Hire a company to perform a wiretap detection sweep. Many companies offer such services, but they typically only pick up devices being used on your premises.

  13. From 2003 to 2006, the Federal Bureau of Investigation illegally obtained calling records for more than 3,500 telephone accounts, according to a report by the Justice Department's inspector general.