October 29th, 2021

What to do if your phone has been hacked

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What to do if your phone has been hacked

Smartphones have morphed into pseudo-wallets, storing our credit card and banking info, our contacts, and other personal information. It's no wonder they're vulnerable to hackers. These cybercriminals can trick you into clicking on a suspicious link in a text or downloading a bad app. Hacks are less prevalent than you might think, but they are still a serious issue—intruders can send spam, discover passwords, rack up expensive bills, and more. But there are a few simple ways to keep your data safe.

At Asurion, when tech breaks, we fix it. Our experts help 300 million customers (and counting) diagnose and resolve their device problems and get the most out of their favorite technology. Here's how to tell if your phone has been hacked and what to do if it happens.

How to tell if your phone has been hacked

Hacking occurs when someone compromises your smartphone's security and can take many forms:

  • Controlling over your device and settings
  • Intercepting or accessing emails, texts, and phone calls
  • Using your number to make calls or send texts and emails
  • Viewing and recording internet traffic
  • Accessing photos or apps remotely
  • Changing the passwords on certain accounts, especially recovery accounts, to help gain access to your personal information

Hacks don't happen spontaneously: They usually require some code, a maliciously linked website, or a downloaded app. That's why it's so important not to click suspicious links, download unknown attachments, or follow instructions you receive from unfamiliar people or groups.

But you can protect yourself from a majority of hacking attempts by understanding how they work. Let's look at the top 10 signs your phone has been hacked.

1. Increased data usage

Most of us have a good sense of how much data we're using monthly, so if you notice a spike in data usage on your phone bill without a change in your online habits, someone may be running their own apps in the background on your device. These apps running in the background can masquerade as system apps you don't recognize or as an app you already have somewhere else.

Before assuming that a hacker is behind your increase in data usage, check your settings and install software and system updates. Apps running in the background can be covert data hogs, but you wouldn't know it until you check your data usage setting.

2. Poor phone performance

Neglecting to install a software update can explain a phone's sluggish performance, but if you're suddenly experiencing crashing apps, unexpected restarts, lagging websites, and freezing screens, you may have been hacked. The same goes for trouble turning your phone on and off and glitches receiving and sending messages. The reason: malware, or harmful software, could be running in the background, taking over your phone's resources.

3. Suspicious calls or text messages

If your phone makes calls or sends texts that you did not personally send, someone may be using your number as their own and calling or texting people to scam them.

4. Battery loses power fast

Your phone's battery drains as you use it, and background apps can speed up that process. If you notice your battery life getting shorter—and you've changed your settings to restrict background app data—you might be dealing with a hacker.

If your device is being used by someone remotely, the battery drain will be much higher than usual. But don't panic. Remember to check your battery usage settings first; some apps will eat up your battery life, and there are always a few in the App Store and Google Play store that don't disclose how they affect your battery life.

5. Phone is hot

Phones can feel hot for all sorts of reasons, like leaving it in a hot car all day or playing games on it all night. But if you notice your phone heating up when you haven't been doing these things, a hacker could be utilizing it for something else.

6. Mysterious apps appear out of nowhere

If you notice an unfamiliar app on your phone—and you don't recall downloading it—that could be a sign a hacker has gained access to your device. It could be a fake app that doesn't do what it says. Check your app store history to see if you downloaded the app in the past and forgot. Delete any apps you don't recognize on your device.

7. Pop-ups

If you start getting pop-ups on your phone at random times, be careful. Some apps allow advertisers to use put pop-up ads, but you should not see them on your home screen or randomly on your device when not using that particular app. This is a sign that your phone's security has been compromised.

8. Lost signal

Hackers aren't the only explanation for service disruptions, but if you notice an increase in dropped calls or bad connections without a reasonable explanation, it's worth looking into a possible hack.

9. Strange activity on social media

Strange, unfamiliar activity on your social media and email accounts means your phone, or at least your social media accounts, may be compromised. Change your social media passwords right away and look for other posts from your account that you didn't actually create.

10. Missed texts and calls

If you stop receiving calls and texts, your SIM card may have been compromised. A SIM card is the chip inserted in your phone that allows it to communicate with your mobile network. It's possible for someone to clone a SIM card, enabling them to use your number on their device. As a result, your phone will no longer receive calls and texts going to and from your number. You can always check with your carrier to see if calls and texts are coming or going to your number without you knowing.

Protect your phone

For more than 25 years, Asurion has helped 300 million customers protect, connect, and enjoy the tech they love most. And smartphones are no exception. Your life is on your device, make sure it’s protected. Learn more about Asurion phone insurance plans today.

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