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How to detect GPS tracking units

The new GPS automatic tracking technology allows almost anyone to track another person. Also, almost all new cell phones have built-in GPS tracking capabilities. Some even have the ability to transmit location information even without the battery. All of which makes you wonder what happened to personal privacy. The answer is that there really is no privacy. Of course, there are legal restrictions on how and when you can use the new tracking technology; however, it can sometimes be difficult to detect GPS tracking units.

Basically, there are two types of GPS tracking device technology available to the public. The simplest is called a passive tracking device or recorder. This device is also the most difficult to detect and defend against. These devices can be as small as a matchbox and can be hidden almost anywhere. They are attached to a vehicle or individual and after a specified time must be retrieved. After recovery, the device is usually connected to a personal computer and the information is downloaded into a database provided by the device manufacturer.

Probably the best defense against passive tracking/logging devices comes in the form of a GPS jammer. These small units typically plug into your car’s cigarette lighter port and provide protection for about 30 feet in any direction. There are also small portable battery-operated units available that also provide short-range lock-on. These units can range in price from $200 to $850.

The second type of GPS auto tracker or personal GPS tracking units are called real-time tracking devices. These units do just as their name implies, they provide real-time current location information about the individual or vehicle being tracked. This was achieved through the use of cell phone technology. Recent technological improvements have greatly reduced the size and reliability of these tracking devices. You can purchase a battery-powered unit the size of a small cell phone that will provide tracking information up to a week before the battery requires charging. Most commonly, these units are attached to a vehicle and use the vehicle’s power supply to provide power to the tracking unit.

Real-time tracking devices generally require the user to contract with a GPS tracking service company. These companies often provide the necessary tracking devices and software to track the device on your personal computer. Depending on the contract, the information is uploaded to you at specific time intervals. The most common information loads range between 5 and 10 minutes.

Defending against this type of tracking device is relatively easy with a combination cell phone/GPS jamming device. These units range in cost from $300 to over $1,000. Of course, a cell phone or GPS jamming device can achieve the same effect. Also, if you think you are being illegally tracked, you can contact your local law enforcement agency and have them run a scan of the vehicle or personal effects in question. Many small law enforcement agencies do not have this capability, and in that case, you have the option of purchasing a scanning unit and doing the scanning yourself.

Advice to the wise if you are involved in a criminal enterprise. Much of what we’ve described here won’t stop US government agencies from tracking you and your vehicles.

In most cases, it is illegal to track just about anyone without their permission. However, given the fact that many tracking devices are so difficult to detect, it is likely that the illegal technology of automatic GPS trackers and personal tracking devices will continue to be used.

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