With technology getting more advanced by the day, we’re all a little concerned for our privacy. But you’d certainly know if the government was keeping tabs on you, right? Scarily enough, the American Civil Liberties Union notes the government is slicker than you think — and there are circumstances in which they can watch your whereabouts and listen to your conversations without you even knowing it.
Think the government could be spying on you? Here are the bizarre signs to watch out for (including one thing that’s probably happened to you on page 10), as well as five ways you’re already under surveillance.
1. You and someone on the government watch list have the same name
FBI Agents collect evidence in Austin FedEx bombing | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Even if you’ve done nothing to get yourself on the government watch list, someone with the same name as you may have. And that could put your privacy at risk, too.
HowStuffWorks reports in 2004, a man named John Lewis was on the government watch list. And for years to come, every John Lewis had issues boarding a flight due to their name being the same. Check to see if your name is on the list of Specifically Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons published by the U.S. Treasury to ensure no unwelcome future surprises (or knocks on your door).
Next: Are you paying attention to your smartphone data usage?
2. Your cell phone data usage is higher than what you’re really using
Person with fingerless gloves using their smartphone | KristinaJovanovic/iStock/Getty Images
You’re a dedicated Wi-Fi user — and yet, you see your data’s creeping up. It could be that the National Security Agency is spying on your whereabouts and using your data, USA Today suggests. Additionally, the local police are starting to use the same practice.
Ranker also notes rising data could be from spyware, which the government can use to track your daily life. Spyware can be used by hackers to steal your personal information, too, so beware.
Next: Your phone calls shouldn’t sound like this.
3. You hear weird noises during your phone calls
Stressed woman looking at her smartphone screen outdoors | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Yes, wiretapping really does happen, and it’s important to know the signs. Toolbox explains if you hear noises while on the phone, such as clicking, popping, or static, then someone else could be listening in to your conversations. Static, scratching, or popping sounds, in particular, are common when a wiretap and a phone line are connecting.
You should also pay attention to any noises that your phone makes when you’re not using it, as this is another sign someone’s messing with your line.
Next: Pay attention to this part of your computer the most.
4. The light on your webcam is on — even when you’re not using it
A woman using her laptop and drinking coffee | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images
You know your webcam is on when the light next to it illuminates. And if your webcam light is on even if it’s not in use, don’t assume it’s just a computer glitch. It could be the FBI watching you through your camera.
Here’s something even scarier: Daily Mail Online reports the government has the technology to trigger your webcam without even turning the light on. Knowing this, you could be spied on without having any idea.
Next: If you own one of these devices, be wary.
5. You own a ‘smart’ TV
Teenaged girl eating and watching TV | iStock.com/Manaemedia
All of your ‘smart’ technology is cool — but it’s not doing your privacy any favors. USA Today reports WikiLeaks revealed that the CIA can break into Samsung Smart TVs. While you may expect such a break-in to be possible on your phone or computer, this new information had many worried.
Samsung had something to say about this, however. The company told the news source that “protecting consumers’ privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority.” They also said they were “urgently looking into the matter.” For now, though, you may want to be careful about what you say when your favorite show is running.
Next: Take note when things seem strange in your home.
6. Something seems amiss in your home
Man cleaning his living room | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images
Feel like you’re being watched in your own home? You might not be terribly off the mark. Business Insider notes in certain instances, police are allowed to install hidden surveillance cameras on private property without telling you. And they’re also allowed to do this without any sort of warrant, depending on the situation.
This doesn’t mean the government is going to pick just anyone, however. But if they have reason to believe you’re a threat against society, you may find your whole home is bugged.
Next: Check your car every once in awhile for one of these.
7. There’s a small tracker hidden somewhere on your car
Older man driving | AnnBaldwin/iStock/Getty Images
It’s not just your home or your technological devices that the government cares to keep tabs on. Ranker notes trackers are often hidden in the undercarriage of a car — and they’re certainly small enough to miss. They’re also placed in the wheel well or the exhaust system of vehicles so whoever wants to know your whereabouts can track your car’s location at all times. Scary.
If you feel like you’re being followed, give your car a decent look, especially in the smaller crevices. Even if the government isn’t watching you, anyone can buy these trackers on Amazon nowadays.
Next: If you remember the same faces around you, it might be more than a coincidence.
8. It looks like you’re seeing the same people around you all day long
People stand before a ski lift in line in Bukovel | maroznc/iStock/Getty Images
NPR interviewed a few FBI agents and found they’re experts at blending into the crowd. And if they’re following you, it’s your job to not notice at all.
The agents said they have clothing ready for all types of events — from jogging to hopping on the subway — to best blend in around the person they’re watching. And there’s usually an entire team surrounding you when you’re being followed, too, though you likely won’t notice. But now that you know, it’s important to remember faces instead of clothing in case you think you’re being trailed.
Next: Follow any extreme groups with extreme caution.
9. You’re an active member of an extremist group
Actress Allison Mack appears in court over the case involving an alleged sex cult. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
You may think your online activity isn’t monitored too closely, but the government sees more than you think. And if you’re part of any extremist groups, they know about that, too — and they’re watching.
Ranker notes the FBI has a definition for extremism, which they note involves “encouraging, condoning, justifying, or supporting the commission of a violent act to achieve political, ideological, religious, social, or economic goals.” Sound like something you may be a part of? The CIA is certainly keeping tabs.
Next: What happens at the airport can certainly tell a lot.
10. You get flagged at the airport
A family at the airport pushing luggage | Deklofenak/iStock/Getty Images
You may get randomly flagged at the airport once or twice in your life, but take note if it happens more than that. HowStuffWorks explains if you’re repeatedly stopped at the airport, it’s a sign your name — whether it’s you or not — is on some type of government watch list.
Mental Floss notes others have reportedly not been able to board their flight over controversial social media posts. While people can’t be blacklisted for information that is “unreliable or not credible,” social media posts aren’t automatically put to the wayside like you may want them to be.
Next: This is one way the government is surveilling you without you knowing it.
11. How they’re watching: You’re sending emails
Young woman worried by what she sees on her phone | nandyphotos/iStock/Getty Images
Ever discussed a product or service in an email and then saw 10 advertisements for it after the fact? The Huffington Post notes you shouldn’t be too surprised by this, as Yahoo and Google have the right to scan your emails to give you more targeted ads.
And your email service may not be the only one reading. The FBI can also take a look at any emails, pictures, files and social media posts you’ve saved or shared.
Next: Be aware of how you’re using the internet.
12. How they’re watching: You allow websites to track you using cookies
Businessman checking email | iStock.com/Rawpixel
You’ve probably allowed websites to track you using cookies without realizing it. The Huffington Post reminds us cookies remember your passwords and items you’ve viewed on various websites, so in a way, they can be quite convenient. But if you’re worried about anyone tracking your movements, you’ll want to disable them. The information from these cookies gets sold to companies to learn more about you.
The government has access to this information as well. Though the advertising industry and private sector can collect more about you than the government can — and they’re totally profiting off of it, too.
Next: Even your car is giving a lot of info about you away.
13. How they’re watching: You’re driving
Woman applying makeup in the car | iStock.com/ImageegamI
Even when you leave the house without your phone, there are ways of keeping tabs on you. The ACLU notes automatic license plate readers that can be found on police cars or road signs are also used as surveillance.
The readers take information like your license plate number, date, time, and location each time they scan. This information is then potentially being pooled into large databases for others in authority to access. And some of this info doesn’t disappear for years — or ever.
Next: Be careful of this the next time you sign up for a new credit card.
14. How they’re watching: You sign up for loyalty cards and programs
Older woman paying credit for purchases using her credit card | gpointstudio/Getty Images
Everyone loves a good deal, and that’s why loyalty cards are so popular. You probably have been suckered into signing up for a few yourself — and they probably saved you money. You may not realize, however, that certain loyalty cards, credit cards, and similar programs could be used as a way to watch you.
The Huffington Post says there’s stored data on whatever you buy using those credit and loyalty cards, and that data, along with stats on your online activity, is sold to give more information about you to advertisers. And of course, the law can also access your credit card history.
Next: Do you know where the cameras are on the streets you walk on?
15. How they’re watching: You’re walking in view of public cameras
A crowd of pedestrians crosses a street in downtown Greenwich, London. | John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images
David Bakke, a Money Crashers tech expert, explains to The Huffington Post that “The Department of Homeland Security has spent millions of dollars on high-tech video cameras that can monitor you as you walk down the street.” In 2012, an ACLU report found in Chicago alone, there were 10,000 publicly and privately-owned cameras in the city. And yes, in your local city, there are certainly plenty as well.
Surveillance isn’t always a bad thing, as these cameras can catch criminals and ensure justice is served when necessary. But keep in mind you may be watched outside of your home without knowing it.
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