Your location can be tracked or recorded in many different ways. For example, by using location services or GPS tracking on your device or apps, through online accounts or shared accounts that show your location (such as when you check in on social media) or by using spyware or surveillance systems. See our advice on spyware or tracking devices.
If you have children in your care, you may also be tracked through their devices, apps and any services that share location information.
If you think the abusive person could be tracking your location through your devices or accounts, read the following information about the signs and advice for limiting tracking. Follow the steps for yourself and any children in your care, if they are safe for your situation.
If you’re still worried you’re being tracked, consider leaving your devices at home when you go out, if it’s safe to do so – especially if you’re going to a support agency, lawyer, friend or to the police for help.
Signs that someone may be tracking you
- The battery of your device is dying faster than usual or needs to be recharged more often.
- Your phone, tablet or computer is slower than normal or takes a long time to open programs or apps.
- Unknown programs are operating in the background of your computer or there are unknown apps on your device.
- You find a phone or tracking device in your home or car that does not belong to you.
- Your phone notifies you that an unknown tracking device is travelling with you.
How to limit the ways your location can be tracked
- Prevent or limit location tracking on devices – make sure the default mode on any location, map, navigation or GPS feature is set to ‘switched off’ and only switch it on when you need to and it’s safe. You may also be able to control your device privacy settings to hide your location. If these devices are controlled by online accounts, update the passwords or passphrases, enable multi-factor authentication and ensure they are not linked or synced with the abuser.
- Clear stored location data connected to map, navigation or GPS devices, and delete your search and trip history. Do not set your actual home address as ‘home’ unless it’s safe to do so.
- Customise apps that use location services – customise location settings including on social media, messaging apps, travel and restaurant guides, online dating apps and games. Adjust the settings to only use location services when the app is in use, avoid checking in on social media, and consider setting your location to private or hiding it completely. See more about reviewing your social media settings.
- If you have children, adjust the location settings on their devices and apps too, if it’s safe to do so.
- Adjust Bluetooth settings – only turn on Bluetooth when you are pairing a device or sharing a file and make sure no-one else can access your paired devices. If possible, use a PIN or code when pairing wearables (like fitness trackers) with your device. Remove any devices from the list if you don’t recognise them, or if you no longer use them or have them in your possession.
- Limit Apple ‘Airdrop’, Android ‘Nearby Share’ and Bluetooth file sharing between devices. If you are sharing content, like files and photos, only turn on the service when you need it and only accept invitations to share from people you know.
- Review Apple ID ‘Find My’ and Google Account ‘Find My Device’ options. If you haven’t already, consider setting up a new Apple ID or Google Account, especially if these accounts were shared or linked with the abusive person. At the very least, change the passwords or passphrases for these accounts if it’s safe to do so.
- Review linked or shared accounts for fitness tracking devices – restore the device to factory settings, set it up as a new device and, if possible, use a new account to log in. At the very least, change the password or passphrase for any accounts linked to fitness apps. Only share your fitness data, which may reveal your exercise routine, with trusted friends and family.
- Check your online accounts like bank accounts and store cards that reveal your location when purchases are made – use cash or limit the use of bank cards or store cards to protect your location from being tracked. If possible, set up new accounts and ensure the statements are not shared with your abuser.
- Avoid travel cards and bank cards that register when you tap on and off public transport – these can reveal your location or actions, especially when seeking help. Consider using single trip tickets. Make sure any new cards are password protected and not linked to your abuser’s accounts.
- Change toll accounts, such as eToll and eTag, which log trips made in your vehicle – contact these agencies to create your own accounts and have your vehicle removed from these records. Make sure they’re not linked to your abuser’s credit or debit card.
- Check ride share and food delivery apps that log your journey or delivery location – make sure you only use these services if your accounts are not shared or linked with your abuser. Consider setting up new accounts or setting the address to a nearby address where you can be dropped off or pick up a delivery. Turn off location-services once you have finished using the app. Do not sign-in to these apps using your social media accounts.
- Change log in details for Government service accounts like MyGov and Medicare that record trips to medical appointments and counselling services – if you haven’t already, apply for new cards and online accounts in your name.
- If you have to update your pet’s microchip details after moving, check if you can just provide a phone number without an address. Ask the registry or your local council to confirm it will keep your personal information private, so it’s not shared. Support services are also available for people whose animals are being threatened or have been hurt or abused within domestic and family violence, such as Lucy’s project.
- Change your electoral enrolment to 'silent elector' if you move. Your name and address is publicly available on the Australian electoral roll, but you can ask to be listed as a ‘silent elector’ if your personal or family’s safety is at risk. Visit the Australian Electoral Commission website to submit an application.
- Apply to Australia Post for a free 12-month mail redirection if you move – this is available for special circumstances.
- Cover your cameras with removable non-transparent tape or a sticker when you are not using them, to stop your abuser using them to track you – this includes the front and back cameras on your phone or other devices or any computers or linked webcams. You can also buy specific cases to cover your camera on a phone or device.