GPS Tracking: Can Private Investigators Legally Use It? (2023)

People who hire private investigators often want to find a missing person or arrest acheating husbandand wife. But did you know that using real-time GPS trackers, private investigators can find out where a private citizen is going? That thought can be a little scary. So, in this article, we want to explain the benefits of GPS, the legal issues related to using Spouse GPS Tracker, and why a hidden GPS is an amazing tool for private investigators. Let's dive!

The Best GPS Tracker for Private Investigators

GPS Tracking: Can Private Investigators Legally Use It? (1)



The SpaceHawk GPS tracker lets you know where a driver is going 24/7. What makes SpaceHawk of SpyTec GL300 and Brickhouse Security Spark Nano 7 stand out are the amazing features including powerful magnetic mount, small footprint, easy-to-use mobile app and 3-second refresh rate. There is no hidden GPS tracker that provides real-time location updates so quickly. If you want to find out the truth and find out where someone is going (specifically directions), look no further than SpaceHawk GPS!

GPS Tracking: Can Private Investigators Legally Use It? (2)

(Video) Can a Private Investigator Use a GPS Tracker for Surveillance? | Private Investigator Training Video

Related article: The 5 Best Security Products for Private Investigators

GPS Trackers and Private Investigators: The Facts

Private investigators are typically hired to conduct legal investigations, such as being hired by a spouse to verify infidelity or by companies to gather evidence for corporate investigations. People in the private detective industry can perform background checks, conduct surveillance and analyze evidence to present to the client. This includes investigating criminal records, financial records, educational history, and much more. Surveillance can be done through physical tracking, use of GPS technology, microphones and recorders, as well as digital methods such as monitoring social media and web history. The investigator will then evaluate the collected evidence and present it to the client. Now, let's take a look at some quick FAQs and a breakdown of the 3 most common ways detectives conduct investigations.

  • In the United States, it is legal for private investigators to use GPS tracking devices as long as they are not used to track people on private property or in areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • The use of GPS car tracking devices by private investigators is governed by federal and state laws, which vary from state to state.
  • Typically, private investigators can only use GPS to track vehicles, not individuals.
  • Typically, private investigators need to have a court order or vehicle owner consent to legally track a vehicle using GPS.
  • In some cases, private investigators may need to obtain a court order before they can use a car or motorcycle GPS tracker.
  • Misuse of a GPS vehicle tracker by a private investigator can have legal repercussions, including fines, penalties and even imprisonment.

Background Check: What Do Private Investigators Look For In A Background Investigation?

A private investigator can perform background checks on his target by looking at his details like criminal history, financial history, educational history, etc.

Common forms of surveillance

A private investigator can conduct surveillance in a number of ways, including physically tracking the target, using GPS tracking systems, microphones or recorders, and digitally tracking targets on social media, or checking web history or digital junk.

To look for

Finally, a private investigator will review the evidence and verify that it is sufficient to present to the client. That's when the investigator will share the GPS surveillance data of cheating husband and wife and show all the places the target has been.

5 Benefits of Real Time GPS Trackers for Private Investigators

  1. Real-time GPS location tracking:Agps vehicle trackerit can provide private investigators with real-time location information, allowing them to quickly and easily track a subject's movements. This can be useful in personal tracking situations, such as when a licensed private investigator is hired to catch a cheating spouse.
  2. evidence collection: GPS vehicle tracking data can be used as evidence in court, providing private investigators with hard evidence of a subject's movements and activities (permitted purpose).
  3. Surveillance:Hidden GPS TrackersIt can help private investigators work more efficiently by providing accurate location information and allowing them to track people remotely.
  4. personal security: GPS tracking solutions for private investigators keep detectives safe by allowing them to track people without putting themselves in danger.
  5. Affordable spy gear: Compared to other security product options on the market, waterproof magnetic GPS devices are relatively inexpensive. This makes hidden GPS devices a great tool for private investigators working on a limited budget.

Legal and illegal use of GPS trackers by private investigators

GPS vehicle trackers have become an essential tool for private investigators to collect information and evidence. However, you must understand the legal and ethical boundaries when using GPS tracking devices. In this section, we will explore the legal and illegal use of GPS trackers by private investigators, including the laws and regulations that govern their use and the possible consequences of misuse.

(Video) 👉 Can a Private Investigator Track Someone With a GPS Tracker?

Corporate investigations: employer and employee

As an employer, you may want to place aportable gps trackerin a company car to reduce unnecessary operating costs if you find that employees are using it for personal gain. However, you can also hire a private investigator to investigate an employee for defrauding the company, such as sharing the company's plans with a competitor.

It is important to note that it is illegal for you, as an employer or private investigator, to use a GPS tracker to track an employee's whereabouts after work or while on vacation. This constitutes stalking, which is a punishable offense.

Betrayal - husband and wife

A private investigator may use a spouse's GPS tracker at the request of a client if the client suspects his or her husband or wife of infidelity. However, it is illegal for a private investigator to use a GPS tracker if the couple is already separated.

If you are the registered owner of the vehicle, you can legally track it for fleet management or theft recovery purposes.

Divorce - child custody and improper parenting

Private investigators can use GPS tracking devices to conduct surveillance in child custody cases. This can include tracking parental movements and locations, as well as monitoring vehicle use to ensure children's safety. This type of surveillance often occurs when one parent has a drug problem, a criminal past, or is just not a proper parent. Covert GPS tracking devices can be used to gather information that can be produced in court to support a customer's custody case.

Common questions

Pursuit versus Investigation: When is a Private Investigator Breaking the Law?

The distinction between legal investigation and unlawful harassment is crucial for private investigators. Failure to do so may result in legal action. As a private investigator, it is important to ensure that your actions comply with the law and do not harm others.

(Video) When Can You Legally Use GPS to Track a Vehicle? - Ask a Private Investigator Show

While an investigator's license allows for lawful tracing of individuals, it is important to ensure that the reason for the investigation is legal and that no harm is intended. Using a hidden GPS tracker or conducting surveillance out of personal interest or curiosity can have legal repercussions, so you should not be reckless when conducting GPS surveillance.

Not to mention, it is illegal for a private investigator to investigate an individual if there is no valid reason or if the client has illicit intentions.

Can you sue a private investigator for putting a GPS tracker in your car?

Whether or not you can sue a private investigator for placing a tracker in your car depends on your state's laws and regulations and the circumstances under which the private investigator placed the tracker. In general, the use of GPS tracking devices by private investigators is legal in the United States as long as they are not used to track people on private property or in areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, if the investigator placed the tracker in your car without her consent or without a valid reason, this could be considered an invasion of privacy and you may have grounds to sue for damages.

TLDR:The main difference between a private investigator pursuing and conducting an investigation is the legality and ethics of the actions taken. A private investigator conducting an investigation follows the law and adheres to a code of conduct, whereas stalking is illegal and may cause fear or distress to the target.

For more information on the subject of GPS tracking among Private Investigators, feel free to visit theOffice of Security and Investigation Services

GPS Tracking: Can Private Investigators Legally Use It? (3)

wise curby

Sage is a freelance writer with a background in information technology.

(Video) Private Investigators vs Police in the Use of GPS Trackers

(Video) Private Investigator mounts a vehicle tracking device


  • Track and trace: the legality of GPS use by private investigators
    • GPS Trackers and Private Investigators: The Facts
      • Background Check: What Do Private Investigators Look For In A Background Investigation?
      • Common forms of surveillance
      • To look for
    • 5 Benefits of Real Time GPS Trackers for Private Investigators
    • Legal and illegal use of GPS trackers by private investigators
      • Betrayal - husband and wife
      • Common questions
        • Pursuit versus Investigation: When is a Private Investigator Breaking the Law?
        • Can you sue a private investigator for putting a GPS tracker in your car?


Can you legally track your spouse with a GPS device? ›

It is legal for a person to use a GPS device to track someone for a lawful reason. It is unlawful for any person to use an electronic GPS device to track someone without consent. Stalking is a course of conduct where someone uses a GPS tracker to monitor someone without their consent.

Is GPS tracking an invasion of privacy? ›

Secret Use of GPS Trackers can subject tracker users to lawsuits for monetary damages for invasion of privacy and intrusion upon seclusion.

Is it illegal to track someone's location? ›

In six states (California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Virginia) laws more broadly prohibit the use of electronic tracking devices, not just on vehicles, and not just in the context of stalking, but when they are used to determine the location or movement of a person without consent.

Can private investigators track people down? ›

Most if not all information on the internet is stored in databases. These databases are available to private investigators. They contain crucial public and non-public records that an investigator can use to locate and track someone.

Can you put a GPS tracker on someone's phone without them knowing? ›

Answer: Yes, there are apps that track someone by cell phone number without them knowing for free. We also have premium apps that offer a free plan to users with limited features.

Can I track my wife legally? ›

California penal code 637.7 bars against tracking someone's location or movement, unless the person has consented. A tracking device in this respect could refer to a GPS tracking device for a vehicle or any other device that tracks movement or location by the transmission of electronic signals.

What is the Supreme Court ruling on GPS tracking devices? ›

Jones (2012) on Monday, January 23, 2012. The unanimous decision affirmed that police must obtain a search warrant before using Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to track the vehicles of suspected criminals.

What tracking devices do private investigators use? ›

GPS devices are a valuable asset for private investigators. They often use GPS trackers to collect solid evidence for their clients.
But they can also hide the GPS tracker:
  • In the glove box.
  • Under the seat.
  • OBD2 port.
  • Use a hardwired GPS tracker.

How do I stop someone from tracking my GPS? ›

Go to Settings > Location, and toggle the location button to Off. That will turn off all location tracking on an Android. You can manage location tracking permissions for specific apps by tapping Location services in your location settings (see the screenshot above).

Is it illegal to track someone in the US? ›

Any person who installs or places an electronic tracking device through intentionally deceptive means and without consent, or causes an electronic tracking device to be installed or placed through intentionally deceptive means and without consent, and uses such device to track the location of any person is guilty of a ...

Can you let someone track your location? ›

Share with a person who has a Google Account

Choose how long you want to share your location. Tap the profile of the person with whom you want to share your location. If asked about your contacts, give Google Maps access. Tap Share.

Can someone secretly track you? ›

Both Android and iOS phones can be subject to malicious software capable of tracking your location, reading your texts, and listening in on phone calls.

Can a private investigator trace an IP address? ›

A private investigator can cross-reference IP addresses to find out. All evidence they find will be documented for use in an investigation with law enforcement or a court case.

What tactics do private investigators use? ›

Here are some of the top tactics used by private investigators:
  • Fitting in public:
  • Perfectly adapt their role:
  • Memorization of maps:
  • Riding a boring car:
  • Intelligent and clever moves:
  • Making fake accounts:
  • No use of cameras:
  • They don't go to the washroom:
Dec 27, 2021

How do you know if a private investigator is watching you? ›

How to know if you are being watched by a private investigator?
  • Take Note of Vehicles. Check for strange vehicles parked near your house or places you frequently visit. ...
  • Pay Attention to Others' Actions. ...
  • Ask Around About your Suspicions. ...
  • Know What a PI Can and Cannot Do. ...
  • Don't Assume It's a PI.

How do I make my phone impossible to track? ›

Turn off location settings on Android:
  1. Open the “App Drawer.”
  2. Go to “Settings.”
  3. Select “Location.”
  4. Enter “Google Location Settings.”
  5. Turn off “Location Reporting” and “Location History.”
  6. You can also select “Delete Location History” to remove all previous tracking data.
Dec 8, 2022

Can a GPS tracker be traced to owner? ›

The first step in tracing a GPS car tracker to the owner is to ascertain whether the tracker is passive or real-time. It's practically hard to figure out who bought the tracker because passive GPS trackers don't require any membership payments and many don't even have serial numbers.

Is tracking your spouse a crime? ›

Unauthorized electronic spying and tracking is illegal and can subject one to criminal and civil penalties. There is not a special exception when the conduct relates to a person's spouse. The use of hidden cameras, tracking devices, spyware and listening devices can result in serious or even criminal consequences.

How do I track a cheating spouse? ›

Most GPS devices on the market these days are lightweight and compact, making them easy to hide. So you can now track your cheating spouse with a GPS tracking device without getting caught. Using a tracker will avoid frustration and embarrassment and still help you know the location of your husband/wife at all times.

Can your spouse secretly record you? ›

The simple answer is no, it is not legal to record your spouse unless that person consents to being recorded. Under California Penal Code section 632, it is a crime to record a telephone call or conversation without the consent of both parties to the call.

Does GPS tracking violate the Fourth Amendment? ›

Knotts. Rather, existing caselaw and policy considerations better support the Ninth and Seventh Circuits' rulings that GPS tracking does not fall within Fourth Amendment protection.

Will a magnet disable a GPS tracker? ›

Will a magnet disable a GPS tracker? Your question: “Do magnets affect GPS?” No. The GPS satellites are thousands of kilometers away from you in Earth orbit and are unaffected by any magnet you may have on you.

Which state made GPS device mandatory? ›

Emergency panic buttons and location tracking devices have been made mandatory for all public and private transport vehicles in Karnataka.

Can private investigators put trackers on cars? ›

Mobile tracking devices, once the bailiwick of private investigators, spies and law enforcement, are now widely available to anyone online and in stores. The devices can be worn or attached to a car or other object, and the location information they collect can be monitored from afar via computer.

How do you know if you're being followed by a PI? ›

Drive your car and watch for any vehicle to pull out behind you and start following you. Private investigators typically stay one or two cars behind a subject's vehicle and they tend to keep their vehicle in your blind spot. Try making a U-turn to see if the vehicle follows you. Watch for someone following you on foot.

How do you get rid of people tracking you? ›

  1. Open your phone's settings.
  2. Scroll down to and click on Location.
  3. Switch the location services slider to Off.
May 26, 2022

How do I know if I am being tracked? ›

How to know if your phone is being tracked
  • Increased data usage. Spyware apps regularly eat up your data. ...
  • Charged battery drains rapidly. ...
  • New, unknown apps on your device. ...
  • Phone works slower than usual. ...
  • Phone freezes or abruptly turns off. ...
  • Background noises in calls. ...
  • Battery runs hot. ...
  • Coded text messages.
Feb 10, 2022

How do I know if someone is tracking my location? ›

A few pointers can help you determine if someone's monitoring your device.
How to Know If Someone Is Tracking Your Phone
  • Unknown Apps. ...
  • Excessive Background Data Usage. ...
  • Browser History Mismatch. ...
  • Battery Drain. ...
  • Abnormal Reboot.
Apr 22, 2022

Is online tracking illegal? ›

There is no specific consumer tracking law in the U.S. at the federal level; however, Federal Trade Commission Behavioral Advertising Principles recommend that websites disclose data collection policies that are used to create targeted marketing.

Can anyone be tracked? ›

A device that is infected with malware or spyware can track your location even if your location settings are turned off. Malware can also record your online activities, allow cybercriminals to steal personal information, or slow down your operating system.

Is there an app to detect tracking devices? ›

Try to be safe by using Detectify - Detect Hidden Devices. Our app helps you find potential hidden devices nearby. This app uses an algorithm to detect hidden devices using magnetometer readings.

Can you tell if your phone is being monitored? ›

Increased data usage

If you suspect your phone is being monitored, check the Storage section in your settings. Here, you should be able to see how much data is being consumed by what. If you notice your device is using more data than usual, that could be an indicator of spyware.

Can a person be tracked by their cell phone? ›

Smartphone Stalking Apps

Even if you're cautious about what information you reveal online, it's possible someone could stalk you via apps installed on your smartphone. Stalking apps (also known as spyware and stalkerware) are apps that someone can download onto your phone to secretly track you.

Can someone track another person's phone? ›

Answer: It is entirely possible to track someone's location via their cell phone number in the same way in which most phone network providers do around the world. Today, there are apps like Minspy that leverage cell triangulation technology to track a cell phone by its number in real-time.

Do private investigators use spyware? ›

Audio Listening and Recording Devices

For example, when a private investigator is monitoring at a distance, they might use various kinds of Audio Surveillance Equipment like amplified microphones, electronic bugging devices, or even mobile phone spy software.

How to track someone with IP address? ›

Through a useful internet tool called IP Geolocation Lookup, you can track an IP address close to someone's exact location. You can get pretty close, depending on a variety of factors, to finding the physical location of someone's IP address.

How do private investigators get their information? ›

Background Checks – A thorough background check is often key to a missing person investigation. Private Investigators can access all public records, including criminal records and unsealed court documents, as well as access databases that may not be accessible to the public.

Can a private investigator tap a cell phone? ›

Just like every other citizen, private investigators are prohibited from wiretapping or monitoring phone conversations without consent from at least one of the individuals. This federal law is present in all states of the USA.

What websites do private investigators use? ›

Which Databases Do Private Investigators Use? The most common database a private investigator will use is the tracers database. The tracers database is fairly accurate and doesn't cost too much so that a small investigation firm can afford it.

What kind of vehicle do private investigators use? ›

The Honda Odyssey is an excellent surveillance vehicle that checks off several boxes for what you want in a covert, comfortable car. It's extremely common, refreshingly roomy, surprisingly mobile considering its size. It also provides good visibility since the seats sit high off the ground.

Do private investigators look at social media? ›

A private investigator can check social media accounts to see what is publicly posted. They cannot hack into any social media account to see what has been posted privately or collect private information about someone.

Why would a PI be looking for me? ›

Private investigators may be hired in order to gather evidence to use in a civil trial, such as a divorce or child custody battle. They may also be hired to help find a missing person or relocate adopted family members.

Can a private investigator find someone online? ›

Most if not all information on the internet is stored in databases. These databases are available to private investigators. They contain crucial public and non-public records that an investigator can use to locate and track someone.

Can I track my husband on Google Maps without him knowing? ›

However, this does not disable the location sharing function on their phone but only hides their Location from yours. Note: Google now sends regular notifications whenever anyone shares their Location. Therefore, viewing Someone's location on Google Maps is impossible without their consent.

How can I track my wife's GPS? ›

Glympse is a tracking app that offers a wide range of features, including real-time GPS tracking, location history, geofencing, and more. One of the best things about Glympse is that it's very easy to use. The app has a clean and user-friendly interface that makes it simple to track your wife's location.

How can I track my husbands car without him knowing? ›

If you want to secretly track a vehicle, then you need a covert GPS tracker, like the PT8100. This is a real-time portable battery powered GPS tracker than can be hidden practically anywhere in the vehicle to give you the real-time location of the vehicle.

Is there an app to track your spouse without them knowing? ›

Hoverwatch is a spying app that allows you to track SMS, calls, and messages of your spouse. It is one of the best apps to catch a cheating boyfriend. It is invisible to the users of the target Android devices. You can use this Android app to spy on spouse's cell phone for free.

Can I track someone with their phone number? ›

You no longer have to approach a mobile network provider to track someone. Instead, you can track a cell phone location by its number with the help of a cell phone tracking application.

Can my wife track my location through my phone? ›

A spouse gets hold of their partner's device and turns on the location sharing option within either of these apps. Once activated, they can then track their location remotely, using their own device. To check if you're affected, simply open the app and check if location sharing is turned on.

How can I find someone's location by their cell phone number? ›

You can find someone's location by cell phone number using an app called Minspy. Minspy utilizes a technology known as “cell triangulation technology.” In this method, three cell phone towers triangulate the phone's location. This is generally used by phone network providers to track a phone number in real-time.

How can I track a cheating spouse? ›

Most GPS devices on the market these days are lightweight and compact, making them easy to hide. So you can now track your cheating spouse with a GPS tracking device without getting caught. Using a tracker will avoid frustration and embarrassment and still help you know the location of your husband/wife at all times.

Can my husband put a GPS tracker on my car? ›

In most states, if you own the car jointly with your spouse or the car is your sole property, it's probably legal to place a tracking device in the car. However, if you install a GPS tracking system in a car that isn't yours, you may expose yourself to a lawsuit for invasion of privacy.

Can a spouse put a tracker on your car? ›

A person may not knowingly install a tracking device or tracking application on another person's property without the other person's consent.

How do you check if your car is being tracked? ›

Use a GPS bug detector to scan the inside and outside of your car. They can detect hidden cameras, audio devices, or GPS transmitters–but only if the bug or tracking device is currently transmitting. To use a bug detector, move the instrument slowly around your car.

How can you tell if someone put a tracking device on your car? ›

Using a flashlight, check both front and rear wheel wells. Use your hand to feel in areas that aren't easily visible. If a tracker is located in the wheel well, its magnet will need to be attached to a metal part, so look behind plastic covers that don't require removal.

Can someone hide a tracker on your car? ›

The fuel tank is a common spot for a person to hide a GPS device. Inside the wheel wells and under the front and rear bumpers are also common hiding places for devices. Use your hands to extend your reach. Keep in mind that devices can be attached by adhesives or with magnets.

How can I locate someone's location? ›

Find someone's location
  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Google Maps app​ .
  2. Tap your profile picture or initial. Location sharing.
  3. Tap the profile of the person you want to find. To update the person's location: Tap on a friend's icon More. Refresh.

How does Eyezy work? ›

The monitoring app rolls all kinds of social media chats into one powerful feature, giving you the power to see their conversations, including deleted messages. And it works on the most popular social media apps, like WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Kik, and even Tinder.

How can you tell if someone is cheating on their phone? ›

Tech clues to a cheating spouse: The basics
  1. Calls on your spouse's cell phone. ...
  2. Names and numbers you don't recognize. ...
  3. Incriminating text messages and emails. ...
  4. Voicemail messages. ...
  5. Frequent-flier account. ...
  6. Toll pass history. ...
  7. Location Sharing for Apple device users. ...
  8. Finding an Android device.
Nov 7, 2022


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