Can a Private Investigator track your phone?

There are multiple types of tools used by private investigators that are useful to track information, including cell phones. These enable private detectives to track mobile numbers in the UK to watch the target’s activity. One thing to keep in mind is that spyware may not always be legal.

Cell phone tracking is a common request for both online investigation services and in-person private investigation projects. There are a variety of technologies that may be used to track a cell phone’s usage. However, the law generally restricts the use of these technologies, or they may need close access to the phone in the issue.

This blog discusses various techniques for tracking cell phone usage and locates the person who is carrying the phone. We frequently propose GPS tracking to our clients when it is appropriate for the circumstances. The most typical reaction to this proposition is always some variation.

Is It Legal?

The answer to this question is “yes”. But you need to keep in mind that it is legal under certain circumstances. You need to make sure that you fulfill the given circumstances if you plan to track a phone.

Is GPS Tracking Legal?

A responsible citizen will be interested to know if GPS tracking is legal in the United Kingdom or not. The truth is that GPS tracking is illegal in a variety of situations. At the same time, a few circumstances in which installing a GPS tracker on a vehicle is legal. The regulations governing GPS tracking are a minefield (and grey in some instances). We normally can’t offer a response to a question until we’ve got answers to our own (Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?).

We will discuss some of the questions we ask a client before we put a GPS tracker on their vehicle as part of a case. Then we will give you some examples of when it might be okay for you to put a GPS tracker on a car when you should hire a licensed P.I to do it, and when a GPS tracker would not be legal at all.


Surveillance frequently entails observing someone without their knowledge to observe where they go and what they do. The customer will be informed of the results by private investigators. In criminal justice classes, private investigators study some of the tactics of effective surveillance tactics.

Technology now plays a vital part in completing tasks in almost every situation by boosting a private investigator’s capacity to collect and capture critical information.


Surveillance used to have to be done in person, with private eye monitoring from a distance and sometimes collecting photos or films. Today, GPS trackers allow detectives to complete their work without waiting or following them in person.


With society growing increasingly afraid and hostile, as seen by rising gun violence, it’s no surprise that private investigators are using GPS tracking devices to monitor their clients from the office. It provides the security that private investigators require and the information they were engaged to gather.


Furthermore, GPS gadgets allow private investigators to multitask and accomplish other things while conducting surveillance, resulting in significant time savings. GPS devices may also be set only to turn on and send a signal when they are in a certain place.

Did You Know If Private Investigators Can Track Your Phone?

We’ll address this one first, as we find that some clients get confused about the difference between tracking and tracing. PIs can trace a mobile number, as in we can find out who owns a number or where the owner of a number lives. Tracking a number refers to monitoring the telecoms activity that someone engages in using a specific SIM card. In general, we can’t do this.

Phone records and mast information are protected data. Nobody can access this information except your service provider and law enforcement. Even the police must have sufficient reason for looking at this data. They must also have relevant warrants for the service provider to turn this information over to them.

Can a Private Investigator Track the Location of a Phone?

Yes, a private investigator can track a phone location, provided you are the owner of the phone. Mobile phone tracking uses GPS software to monitor where someone goes. An example of this kind of software is probably familiar: Apple’s Find My iPhone. These apps receive real-time satellite data about the phone’s location in the world.

A private investigator can’t track someone else’s’ phone location, as installing the software without their consent would be illegal. Without the software, it is impossible for people (except emergency services and service providers) to monitor the location of a phone.

Can a Private Investigator Track the Owner of a Phone?

In a way, yes, private investigators can track the owner of a phone. By conducting a number trace, establishing whomever the owner of a phone is, and conducting surveillance, we can monitor the movements of (‘track’) a mobile number owner.

As we’ve mentioned, we can’t directly monitor someone through their phone number alone. Because we’re licensed private investigators, we must only access publicly available, consensual data. As long as we do this, we can track the owner of a phone.

Can a Private Investigator View Message Contents?

No, absolutely not. Unless the messages are yours and you give us your consent to view them, we cannot look at the contents of messages. This includes voicemail, call logs, the contents of messages, and recorded conversations. In addition to this, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram, and dozens of other messaging services use end-to-end encryption. This means that nobody, not even the messaging services themselves, could see the contents of your messages without physical access to your phone.

In the early 2010s, it emerged that several private investigators working for The News of the World had engaged in voicemail hacking of people of interest and their family members. These rogue operators are still facing the legal consequences for their actions.

Investigation services advertising that they will do this are admitting that they’re prepared to break the law. We’d advise everyone to stay away from investigators like this, as it demonstrates a poor and reckless attitude to investigative ethics.

Can a Private Investigator Listen to Phone Calls?

Yes, if the phone call is between you and someone else, then you are within your rights to allow us to listen in. A PI can also record phone calls as long as they aren’t intercepting comms between unconsenting parties. What they do with these recordings depends on local laws, but the recordings themselves are not inherently illegal.

Reasons For Mobile Phone Tracking

There are various reasons why someone would desire to trace a mobile phone number geographically or through call data. When an investigator has a clear idea of where a person’s mobile phone is on a map, vehicle tracking and personal monitoring become considerably more comfortable. Almost all current mobile phones can function as GPS transmitters, making tracking a person’s whereabouts easier than ever.

GPS tracking is also necessary for locating missing people. Infidelity investigations include GPS and phone record tracking as well. An investigator may wish to employ GPS technology to track the physical position of a known mobile phone for a variety of reasons.

Private Investigators UK believes that real-world investigations should be transparent, legal, and ethical. To discuss number tracing and other communications surveillance, please call 0800 002 9858. Alternatively, please send us a message, and we’ll get back to you today.

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