Are GPS trackers safe to use?

Are GPS trackers safe to use

GPS trackers can be found everywhere. Your phone, car, pets, and even your mail all have GPS tracking systems, and while there are many benefits, many people question whether or not GPS trackers are safe.

GPS stands for Global Positioning System, which uses satellite signals to determine the location and movements of objects and living things. Many smartphones have built-in GPS tracking software, but people can also purchase GPS trackers and install these.

The fact that anyone can buy a GPS tracker raises the question, are they safe and secure? Here’s everything you need to know about GPS trackers, including the various types and the benefits and downsides of these devices.

Different types of GPS trackers

There are a couple of types of GPS trackers; passive and active:

  • Active GPS tracking transmits your location and movements in real-time. For example, your smartphone has active GPS tracking, which allows you to use navigation apps.
  • Passive GPS tracking tracks location data but stores it. To gain access to this data, you’ll need to have access to the device and remove the data to see it.

There are pros and cons to both types of GPS tracking, but active GPS trackers are better if you want to see the location of something or someone instantly.

Benefits of GPS trackers

There are many benefits to GPS trackers, and they undoubtedly make life easier and safer.

  • More straightforward navigation: With GPS trackers, you no longer need to get lost while traveling. Most phones and cars come with GPS tracking, meaning you can go to new places and no longer need to plan journeys.
  • Track your possessions: If you lose your phone or laptop, you can find them using GPS trackers. This is also beneficial if your items are stolen since you may be able to track the thief and your belongings.
  • Mail delivery tracking: Most postal services now offer real-time tracking of packages and expensive items. Not only does this add an extra layer of security to your packages while they are in transit, but it also ensures you can be at home to sign for the delivery.
  • Find lost pets: Our pets are like our family, and losing them is heartbreaking. Independent pets, like cats, can often wander off and go missing. However, you can keep your cat safe and find it if it runs away and goes missing with a GPS tracker collar.
  • Helps law enforcement: GPS trackers can help solve cases or acquit innocent people. GPS tracking on phones provides evidence of a person’s whereabouts at any time, which helps with criminal cases.gps tracking maps

Downsides of GPS trackers


Even though GPS trackers have many benefits, these devices are not faultless. There are a few downsides, including the following:

  • Inaccurate locations: Although GPS locations are pretty accurate, they can sometimes be off. This is because objects like trees or buildings can block satellite signals, providing faulty navigation or incorrectly assigning a location to someone.
  • GPS trackers drain batteries: If you constantly use the GPS tracking system on your phone or car to find places, you will notice your battery draining fast.
  • Too much reliance on technology: If your car or phone breaks, and you’re lost, then without a GPS tracker, you may be unable to find your way to safety. Over dependency on GPS trackers means that our natural navigation skills don’t develop.
  • Stalking: Stalkers can use GPS trackers to follow and harass their victims by secretly attaching trackers to cars or installing apps on phones. This can result in individuals being put in unsafe situations. (If you feel stalked, you can get help and find resources here.)
  • Apps sell your location data: Some apps require the GPS tracker on your phone to be constantly active. Apps exploit this data by sending targeted ads or selling your data to third parties.

Can GPS trackers be hacked?

Although it is harder for GPS trackers to be hacked because they work by using satellite signals, it isn’t impossible. For example, if you have a device with an internet connection and GPS tracking active, hackers can infiltrate your operating system and find out your location.

While there are some downsides to GPS trackers, the benefits outweigh the cons. When used appropriately, GPS trackers are safe; however, if you are suspicious, you can switch off GPS tracking systems on your phone and car and only activate these when it is necessary to do so.

It is 100% legal to use a GPS tracker on any object you own. For example, installing a GPS tracker on your own phone or car is fine since it is your possession. However, installing a GPS tracker on someone else’s property without their knowledge or following an individual is illegal. For example, stalking cases involving ex-boyfriends and girlfriends have often led to conviction if one of the partners has used GPS trackers to stalk their old partner secretly.

GPS trackers and stalking

There is a gray area when it comes to using GPS trackers for children. Generally speaking, if your children are under the age of 18, then it is legal to install a GPS tracker on their phones or cars to ensure that you can keep an eye on their whereabouts at all times. However, some people argue that this compromises the child’s freedom, but it is ultimately the parent’s choice to track their child.

When it comes to legal issues, law enforcement is able to use GPS trackers to follow suspects, but they must obtain a warrant first. This was established in 2012 by the Supreme Court after many legal cases involved police officers illegally installing GPS trackers on suspects’ possessions without permission from higher-ups.

Author Madeleine Hodson

Hi, I'm Madeleine. I'm a British writer with a global background, currently based in the UK. I have always been interested in the online world and how it connects people worldwide. My keen interest in the internet led me to ...
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