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I have a Samsung Galaxy. I have heard that I can turn off my data, GPS locator, or the phone itself but I would like to be able to keep my phone with me and on at all times and have normal functionality.

How can I prevent someone from tracking my device? Is there a way I can route the tracker to a specific location when I want so that I could just tell them I am at that location even when I'm not?

I am willing to root my device and install any kernel or ROM; whatever it takes.

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    How are they tracking your phone? Did they install anything?
    – geffchang
    Aug 10, 2013 at 8:17

4 Answers 4

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If you believe that someone is tracking you with your Android, do this

  1. Back up your favorite apps.
  2. Factory reset the phone.
  3. Encrypt your phone. (This way nobody else can access your phone)
  4. For extra protection, you may add a PIN so that you can lock down them from accessing your settings.
  5. If you are going a step further, you can lock down your phone in kiosk mode with the help of any custom launchers or anything like that.
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Dan already pointed out that this is more a social problem. Talk with your parents, express how you feel about this. The feeling of being constantly monitored is sure not very pleasant.

That said, the only way to make it hard for someone to monitor the location with the help of your Android phone is by ensuring that you have a clean initial setup and a locked-down system in terms of screen lock and debugging disabled. This comes down to that if your phone was never compromised before and you prevent all unauthorized access to the phone, it's hard to install surveillance software. It has nothing to do with root access or a custom ROM. In fact, having root access may be counterproductive, since you want a tamper-proof system.

If they use other means of tracking (e.g. GSM-based ones), which is unlikely for individuals, then there is nothing to prevent that.

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Some mobile carriers offer services to track children/family/friends which will trace phone location through cell towers and notify of changes.

You'll have to put your SIM card into another phone and leave it at a friend's place to fake your location. You can also set up call forwarding to your new SIM if they decide to call and check.

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To be sure you have no additional tracking software installed, you may use these 3 methods.

Method 1

  1. Check logged Google accounts Settings -> Accounts: be sure to use only your account for all Google products/services (Play Store, Maps, Android Phone Manager - this one can track devices). To be 100% sure, only you are the administrator of your phone, set up a new Google account for yourself.

  2. In Settings -> Security -> Device Administrators, check programs set as admins -> remove all if there are any. (If you find one PIN-protected, use Method 2 with hard/factory reset.)

  3. Remove all additional apps that may be used for tracking Settings -> Apps -> Downloaded - select and remove all, one by one (some might be PIN-protected, then go to Method 2).

  4. In Settings -> Location Services, disable the Access my location option and turn off GPS.

  5. Disable Mobile data transfer.

  6. Set up and enable PIN and Password (Settings -> Security), and enable screen protection with a PIN number.

Method 2

Manually back up your data (music, pictures) and copy it with file explorer/manager onto an SD card. SMS can be backed up with SMS Backup + App, sync contacts with Google Account. (for security reasons, set yourself a new fresh one and use it to back up and restore your data.)

Then, go to Settings -> Backup and Reset, choose Factory Data Reset important - uncheck Automatic Restore checkbox. After a hard reset, choose your own new Google account for Google services (set up a new one).

Next, set up and enable Password (Settings -> Security), and enable screen protection with PIN.

Additional info

Apps that can track your phone

  1. Google Device Manager
  2. Kaspersky Mobile Security (This one is tricky and hard to erase. I use this one with my phone.)
  3. Avast Mobile Security / Avast Anti-Theft (This one sends an email notification or SMS when the phone leaves the designated area. It also may be hard to remove. You will need a hard reset to get rid of these two). Anti-Theft hides itself as an update agent in apps.
  4. Track My Phone
  5. Phone Locator

...and many many more. Check them in Google Play (You may find one installed on your phone. If so, remove it.)

Method 3 (100% works)

Buy another cheap smartphone and a second SIM card. Install on this new phone, let's call it decoy, the software they have installed on your old phone for tracking you (you will find it in Settings -> Apps on your Galaxy), log them in, put it into that second phone your old SIM card, redirect all phone calls to you a new number which you will use with your factory erased / clean Galaxy with new accounts logged in. Leave the second (decoy) phone in a place you are supposed to be.

If you can't find the app which they are using to track you down or don't have passwords to log them on a second phone, use the reverse process: buy yourself another phone with a new number (can be prepaid) and redirect all calls onto the new one from your old SIM card and use the old phone as a decoy.

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    Right of privacy of a phone he doesn't pay for? Anyways, Tom, I believe you let yourself go through hard and sinuous paths of reasoning but missed the main question: "is there a way i can route the tracker to a specific location when i want so that i could just tell them i am at that location even when im not?". With all your explanation you can remove a tracking app, but you can't stop his parents to notice that his app has been uninstalled. Am I wrong?
    – Claudio
    Jan 8, 2014 at 2:48
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    1. There are two questions as I see it, first: how can i prevent my parents from tracking my device? And maybe if there is chance, 2nd "is there a way i can route the tracker to a specific location when i want so " 2. Right of privacy of a phone he doesn't pay for? So man do you think if his parents pay for his food, phone, clothes they do have right to treat him as (kind-of) their property, whithout rights like: dignity, autonomy, self-reliance, right to have privacy, small secrets? 3. Reply was written via phone - that's why it was not preformated.
    – Thomas
    Jan 8, 2014 at 4:49

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