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My Phone Was Hacked. How Do I Fix It?

Secure your phone before it's too late

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A hacked phone is terrible news, so if you think someone hacked your phone, you need to fix it as soon as possible. This article explains how to repair the damage (as much as possible) and get back to everyday life.

How Do I Know If My Phone Has Been Hacked?

Signs that someone hacked your phone include losing charge quickly, running slowly, strange activity like pop-up windows or unexpected apps showing up, or unknown calls or texts in your phone logs.

A hacked phone can often lead to hacked online accounts since hackers often use the auto login feature with saved passwords to access your accounts from your phone. So, after following this guide to fix your phone, make sure to regain control of your hacked Facebook account , hacked Google account , and a hacked email accounts .

Causes of a Hacked Phone

Your phone can get hacked for various reasons, not all of which are entirely under your control.

  • Clicking on links on social media sites that take you to a website that installs malware on your phone.
  • Opening links in phishing emails that install malicious software.
  • SIM card hacking where the hacker convinces your provider to send them a replacement SIM card.
  • Hackers connecting to your phone via a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection.

Regardless of how hackers managed to install malware or a virus on your phone, the results are usually the same. The hacker will attempt to exploit any information contained on your phone to profit in some way.

They can search through files on your phone for personal or sensitive information like bank account details, social security numbers, or online account passwords.

How to Fix It If Your Phone Was Hacked

You can clean your phone and get rid of hacking activity using the steps below. These fixes apply to any version of Android and any Android phone manufacturer.

First, turn on Android Safe Mode . Once this is enabled, delete all newly installed or unrecognized apps from your Android . Make sure to look for hidden apps as well . You can also see recently installed apps on your Android by opening the Google Play Store app, selecting My apps & games, and then sorting Installed apps by Last Updated. Uninstalling unrecognized or recently installed apps can help with removing any potentially malicious software you accidentally installed.

Why use Android Safe Mode before removing apps? In Safe Mode, Android disables all third-party applications from running, preventing unnecessary background apps from running. This mode makes it easier to remove unwanted apps from your phone without seeing any errors.

Install and run mobile antivirus software . These applications will scan your phone for malicious files and apps that compromise your phone's security and permanently remove them.

If you've rooted your Android phone, you've opened up areas of the system that are usually protected by security privileges. To reverse this, you'll need to use one of the root apps like SuperSU to unroot your Android and make it secure again.

Rooting or unrooting your Android can "brick" the phone and make it unusable. If this happens to you, then you'll have to follow instructions to unbrick your Android and recover it again if you can.

Reset your Android lock screen and PIN code . Doing this will ensure that if a hacker did get access to your login details and hacked your phone that way, they won't be able to get back in once you restart your Android. You can also lock apps using screen pinning for extra security.

Reset account passwords. You might need to reset your Microsoft account if you use Office 365 apps, or reset your Instagram password , or even reset your Gmail account . It can be a hassle to change all your passwords, but if a hacker has been active on your phone, it's the only way to re-secure all your accounts.

Consider using a free password manager app on your Android to protect all your accounts from future hacks. These apps keep your passwords protected behind an additional layer of password protection and make it harder for hackers to access your accounts.

Contact your carrier. If you've noticed that you're no longer receiving phone calls or text messages, see unknown numbers or calls on your bill, or a location tracking app shows an incorrect location for your phone, your SIM card might have been cloned or hacked . A hacker can use social engineering to get your wireless provider to send them a new SIM card for your account. If you suspect this is the case, contact your wireless provider and let them know someone might have cloned your SIM card. They can work with you to shut down the cloned SIM card and provide you with a legitimate one.

Since the hacker could get your wireless provider to send them a SIM card, it's essential to take some time to work with the provider and ensure all of your contact and billing information is still correct. Also, ensure that they have a secondary contact phone number on file that they can use for confirmation if anyone ever calls asking to make any changes to your current phone's wireless plan.

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Your Android phone could have stalkerware, here’s how to remove it

How to remove common consumer-grade spyware.

ghost phone hacked

A security vulnerability in one of the biggest consumer-grade spyware operations today is putting at risk the private phone data of about 400,000 people, a number that’s growing daily. The operation, identified by TechCrunch, is run by a small crew of developers in Vietnam but has yet to fix the security issue.

In this case it isn’t just one problematic spyware app. It’s an entire fleet of apps — Copy9, MxSpy, TheTruthSpy, iSpyoo, SecondClone, TheSpyApp, ExactSpy, FoneTracker and GuestSpy — that share the same security vulnerability.

But without a fix in place, TechCrunch cannot reveal specific details about the vulnerability because of the risk it poses to the hundreds of thousands of people whose phones have been unknowingly compromised.

READ OUR INVESTIGATION

Behind the stalkerware network spilling the private phone data of hundreds of thousands

With no expectation that the vulnerability will be fixed any time soon, this guide can help you remove these specific spyware apps from your Android phone — if you believe it’s safe to do so.

Consumer-grade spyware apps are often sold under the guise of child tracking software but are also known as “stalkerware” for their ability to track and monitor partners or spouses without their consent. These apps are downloaded from outside of Google Play’s app store, planted on a phone without a person’s permission, and are designed to disappear from the home screen to avoid detection. You may notice your phone acting unusually, or running warmer or slower than usual, even when you are not actively using it.

Because this fleet of stalkerware apps relies on abusing in-built Android features that are more commonly used by employers to remotely manage their employee’s work phones, checking to see if your Android device is compromised can be done quickly and easily.

Before you proceed, have a safety plan in place. The Coalition Against Stalkerware offers advice and guidance for victims and survivors of stalkerware. Spyware is designed to be covert, but keep in mind that removing the spyware from your phone will likely alert the person who planted it, which could create an unsafe situation.

Note that this guide only removes the spyware app, it does not delete the data that was already collected and uploaded to its servers. Also, some versions of Android may have slightly different menu options. Follow these steps at your own risk.

Check your Google Play Protect settings

Screenshots showing Google Play Protect, which should be enabled.

Make sure Google Play Protect, a security feature in Android phones, is enabled. Image Credits: TechCrunch

Google Play Protect is one of the best safeguards to protect against malicious Android apps, both third-party and in the app store. But when switched off, those protections stop, and stalkerware or malware can be installed on the device outside of Google Play. That’s why this stalkerware network asks the person who plants the spyware to disable Google Play Protect before it works.

Check your Google Play Protect settings through the Google Play app and make sure it’s enabled, and that a scan has been recently completed.

Check if accessibility services have been tampered with

Stalkerware relies on deep access to your device and its data, and it often abuses the accessibility feature in Android which, by design, has to have wide access to the operating system and its data in order for the screen reader and other accessibility features to work. If you do not recognize a downloaded service in the Accessibility options, you may want to remove it. Many of the stalkerware apps are disguised as plain apps called “Accessibility” or “Device Health.”

A screenshot of Android's accessibility settings.

Android spyware often abuses in-built accessibility features. Image Credits: TechCrunch

Check if a device admin app has been installed

Device admin options have similar but even broader access to Android as the accessibility features. These device admin options are designed to be used by companies to remotely manage their employees’ phones, disable features and wipe data to prevent data loss. But they also allow stalkerware apps to record the screen and snoop on the device owner.

Screenshots showing the Android's device admin app panel.

An unrecognized item in your device admin app settings is a common indicator of phone compromise. Image Credits: TechCrunch

Most people won’t have a device admin app on their personal phone, so be aware if you see an app you don’t recognize, named something like “System Service,” “Device Health,” or “Device Admin.”

Check apps to uninstall

You may not see a home screen icon for any of these stalkerware apps, but they may still appear in your Android device’s app list. Go to your Android settings, then view your apps. Look for an innocuously named app like “Device Health” or “System Service,” with generic-looking icons. These apps will have broad access to your calendar, call logs, camera, contacts and location.

Three screenshots of spyware apps, named "Device Health" and "System Service."

Spyware apps often have generic-looking icons. Image Credits: TechCrunch

If you see an app here that you don’t recognize or haven’t installed, you can hit Uninstall. Note that this will likely alert the person who planted the stalkerware that the app is no longer installed.

Secure your phone

If stalkerware was planted on your phone, there is a good chance that your phone was unlocked, unprotected or that your screen lock was guessed or learned. A stronger lock screen password can be helpful to protect your phone from would-be stalkers. You should also protect email and other online accounts using two-factor authentication wherever possible.

If you or someone you know needs help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) provides 24/7 free, confidential support to victims of domestic abuse and violence. If you are in an emergency situation, call 911. The Coalition Against Stalkerware also has resources if you think your phone has been compromised by spyware.

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7 Codes to Check if Phone is Hacked or Tapped (and What to Do)

ghost phone hacked

Has your phone been hacked? If you're not sure, there are ways to find out. I'll tell you what to dial to see if your phone has been hacked, what symptoms to look for (including battery drain), and how to solve it.

With USSD codes, also known as quick codes or feature codes, you can quickly check if your phone has been hacked. There are many combinations to diagnose different issues, and with code to check if your phone is monitored, and I'll discuss each below. That way, you can be sure you're safe.

  • What To Do If You Think Your Phone Has Been Hacked

First and foremost, if you have a feeling or suspicion that your phone has been hacked or even sim-swapped , it's always better to err on the side of caution. 

Start by changing all your passwords for any accounts accessed through your device and your phone's lock screen password. This can prevent further access to your personal information. 

Next, consider whether there may be any sensitive information on your device that could potentially be compromised. If so, think about how you can protect that information and who needs to be notified of the potential breach. 

It would be best if you also considered contacting your service provider, as they may have resources and assistance to secure your device. 

With USSD codes, you can also easily check for any unusual activity on your phone, such as unexpected data usage or strange texts and calls.

  • The Signs That Your Phone May Have Been Hacked

If you're not receiving calls and think you might have been hacked with conditional call forwarding and monitoring, those are signs your phone might be hacked. There are other diagnostic methods too, and a bunch of methods and techniques you can use to diagnose and rectify any potential hack to your smartphone. 

You may have the latest iOS or Android device, and be confident no one can hack your phone. But the global security situation would say different, and if you're trying to figure out what to dial to see if your phone is hacked, you're in the right place. 

With everything going on in the world, cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common, and one way to prevent them is to learn white hat hacking .

ghost phone hacked

1. Unexplained Data Usage

One of the first things you might notice if your phone has been hacked is unexplained data usage. If you have a data limit on your plan and you find yourself going over it for no apparent reason, it could be because someone is using your data without your knowledge. 

Hackers can install malware on your phone that uses your data in the background without your knowledge.

 To check for unexplained data usage, look at your phone's data usage history in the settings app. If you see any apps using more data than usual, or if there's data being used when you're not even using your phone, those could be signs that your phone has been hacked.

2. Unexpected App Activity

Another sign that your phone may have been hacked is unexpected activity from apps that you don't use very often. If you see notifications or other activity from an app that you barely ever use, there's a chance that someone has installed malware on your phone and is using that app to spy on you or steal information from you. 

To check for unexpected app activity, go through the list of apps on your phone and see if there are any that you don't remember installing or that you haven't used in a long time. If you see anything suspicious, delete the app right away. 

Hackers will sometimes install malicious apps (particularly web apps) on your phone without your knowledge to gain access to your personal information or steal sensitive data like login credentials and banking information. 

These are usually website domain applets and can lead to scripts running on your smartphone. Note that we cover this topic in much more depth too. For example, you can also learn how to hack a website to counter such things.

3. Battery Drainage

If your battery starts draining unusually quickly, it could be another sign that something is wrong with your phone. This is usually caused by malware running in the background and can be confirmed by checking your battery usage history in the settings app. If you see an app that's using up a lot of battery power even when you're not using it, there's a good chance that it is malicious software and your phone has been hacked.

4. Slow Performance

A final sign that something might be wrong with your phone is if it starts running slowly or acting strangely. 

Several things can cause this, but if you suspect your phone has been hacked, it could be because there's malicious software running in the background and causing problems with how your phone runs. 

To check for this, open up the settings app and go to the "About Phone" section. Then look at the "System Updates" section and see if any updates are available for your operating system and apps. If there are, install them immediately, as they might contain security patches that will help protect your phone against hackers.

ghost phone hacked

5. Suspicious Text Messages Or Calls 

If you start receiving text messages or calls from numbers you don't recognize, or if your friends and family start telling you they've been receiving strange texts or calls from your number, it's a sign that your phone may have been hacked. Hackers often spoof your phone number to access your contacts list, send spam messages, or make unwanted calls. These can happen on Android or Apple devices. 

  • What Are USSD Codes?

USSD codes, also known as "Unstructured Supplementary Service Data" codes, are shortcodes that can be entered into a phone to access various features and information. These codes are commonly used for checking account balances, activating services, and troubleshooting technical issues.

It's important to note that USSD codes can potentially give hackers access to sensitive information on your phone, so it's essential only to use trusted sources and never share them with anyone else.

USSD Code To Check If Phone Is Hacked 

USSD codes usually begin with * or # and can be entered by simply holding down the * or # key on your phone and then entering the code. USSD codes can be used to check your balance, recharge your account, or even send money to another mobile phone user. 

To use a USSD code, simply enter the code into your phone and wait for the response. The response will usually be in the form of a pop-up message on your screen. In some cases, you may need to enter additional information, such as your PIN number, before the service can be accessed. So here's what to dial to see if your phone is hacked:

For Being Hacked

*#06# - This code will show you the IMEI number of your phone. The IMEI number is a unique identifier assigned to every mobile device. If you see a different IMEI number than the one usually associated with your phone, it's possible that your phone has been hacked.

*#062# - This code will show you the date when your SIM card was last updated. If you see a date you don't recognize, or if the date listed is significantly different from when you last remember updating your SIM card, your phone may have been hacked.

*#21# - This code will show you a list of numbers your calls have been forwarded to. If you see any numbers listed that you don't recognize, or if your calls have been forwarded to a number you didn't set up, it's possible that your phone has been hacked.

For Being Tapped

*#*#1472365#*#* - This code will show you if anything abnormal is happening with your device's GPS location. If someone has enabled GPS spoofing, this code will let you know. GPS spoofing is a type of hack where the hacker tricks your phone into thinking it's somewhere it's not. This can be used to track your movements or intercept your calls and text messages. To check if your phone has been hacked in this way, simply enter the code into your dialer and hit send. If everything appears normal, you're good to go. If not, it's time to start taking steps to secure your device.

Note that you'll need to navigate the UMTS Cell Environment to get this information. You're going to want to check the UMTS RR Information to get a Cell ID number. That's what you'll use to track the person who hacked your phone. Once you have the Cell ID, go to the mm information menu and look for an area code. That should give you a good place to start.

*#*#7780#*#* - This code will help you reset your device to its factory settings. This is useful if you suspect your phone has been hacked and want to start from scratch. Keep in mind that this will delete all of the data on your device, so be sure to back up any important files before proceeding. To reset your device, simply enter the code into your dialer and hit send. Follow the prompts on your screen, and voila! Your device will be as good as new.

*#*#34971539#*# * - If you've ever looked at your phone's camera and thought someone might be peering in back, you can check to see if your suspicions ring true or not. This code gives you access to information about the camera hardware, including when it was last used and what type of camera it is. Simply enter the code into your dialer and hit send to view this information. If you see any unusual activity, it's a good indication that someone has been using your camera without your permission.

*#*#197328640#*#* - This code gives you access to your device's network information, including the signal strength and cell towers in use. While these codes may not definitively tell you whether or not your phone has been hacked, they can give you a good indication of any strange activity on your device. If you see any unusual activity here, it might signal that someone is monitoring or tampering with your network connection. If anything looks off, it's essential to take steps to secure your phone and protect your personal information. Remember, a cell tower pings for each incoming call, outgoing call, and SMS message sent.

  • Tips On How To Block Hackers From Your iOS Or Android Phone

There are a few ways to block hackers from your mobile device. Here are the best ways to avoid an unknown connection:

  • Update Your Software Regularly: One of the best ways to protect your phone from hackers is to ensure you're running the latest operating system version. That's because developers are constantly working to patch up vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious software or attackers. So, if you're not running the latest version of iOS or Android, you could be leaving yourself open to attack.
  • Use a Secure Lock Screen Pattern or Password: Another simple way to beef up your security is to use a strong lock screen pattern or password. That way, even if someone does manage to get their hands on your device, they'll still have a hard time accessing your information. Remember that patterns can sometimes be guessed, so a long and complex password is usually the best option. Also, avoid using easily guessed words like "password" or easily accessible personal information like your birthdate.
  • Install Security Apps: Many different security apps are available for iOS and Android devices. These apps can help block malicious software and even alert you if your device is being tampered with. Many of them are free, so there's no excuse not to have one installed. Just be sure to do your research before installing anything, as some security apps have been known to contain malware themselves. 
  • Beware of Public Wi-Fi Networks: When you're out and about, connecting to public Wi-Fi networks can be tempting to save your data plan. However, these networks are often unsecured, which means they're prime targets for hackers. So, unless you absolutely need to connect, it's best to steer clear of public Wi-Fi altogether.

Note that there are also app-based solutions like Netmonitor . You can find it (and others) on the Google Play store. Just beware of potential scams. Some unscrupulous companies target novices in the cybersecurity field, inviting you to install programs that can compromise your device. It's best to use only trusted names if you choose to use a cybersecurity app.

Ideally, there’s a lot of security in the latest smartphones, but hackers aren’t dumb either. They are in a constant race of cat and mouse with software updates. You should always stay up to date with software updates in your smartphone, especially Android given its open-source system origins. 

Irrespective of your mobile system, if you notice any signs, be sure to follow the steps above.

Learn How to Hack Smart Phones The Complete Mobile Ethical Hacking Course

  • Frequently Asked Questions

Here, I'll address some of the most common questions I hear about how to tell if a phone is hacked. I'll try to keep my answers concise, as the guide above gives much more information.

1. Does *#21 Tell If Your Phone Is Tapped? 

No, *#21 is a code for displaying your call forwarding status. It will not tell you if your phone is tapped.

2. What Does ##002 Do To Your Phone?

##002 is a code for resetting your phone to its factory settings. It will not tell you if your phone is hacked, but it can help remove any hacked software on your device.

3. How Will I Know If My Android Phone Is Hacked?

Some common signs that your Android phone may have been hacked include strange or unexpected behavior, a sudden increase in data usage, and unfamiliar apps or notifications. You can also use security apps to check for any malicious software on your device. 

4. Can You Unhack Your Phone?

If you suspect your phone has been hacked, the first step is to change any passwords or PINs stored on the device. Then, run a security scan using an app or antivirus software. You may also want to factory reset your phone, although this will delete all your data. It's important to note that there is no guaranteed way to "unhack" a device, as the extent of the hack will determine the best course of action. It's always a good idea to regularly back up your device in case it needs to be reset. It's also essential to keep your software and apps up-to-date and be cautious about connecting to public networks.

5. Can You Tell If Your Phone Is Being Monitored?

With the USSD code *#06, you can check your phone's IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. If this number has been changed (different from the one on the phone box) without your knowledge, it could be a sign that someone is monitoring or tracking your device. Other signs may include unexpected crashes or freezes, unusually high data usage, and strange or unfamiliar apps or notifications. It's always a good idea to regularly check for any unusual or suspicious activity on your device.

6. What is the code to check if my phone is hacked or tapped?

You can check for any unfamiliar or suspicious activity on your phone, run security scans using apps or antivirus software, and check the IMEI number of your device. There are a bunch of codes to check if phone is hacked to check the same. However, there is no one code to know it all. It's essential to monitor your phone for any unusual activity regularly (including battery drain).

7. What do I dial to check to see if my phone is hacked?

You can dial *#21# to see a list of numbers where your calls are being forwarded to. That's a common method for phone hacking, and this is one easy way to check to see if you have unintentional call diversions set up.

8. What does *#*#1472365#*#* do on your phone?

This connects you with the UMTS Cell Environment. It's the spot you go when you want to find out where your hacker is located. 

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ghost phone hacked

Ankit Sharma is a technical writer for Hackr.io. He specializes in data science, machine learning, and AI, among others. Coming from a computer science engineering major, his experience lies more in analytics and solving problems with tech solutions to empower people's work lives. He has worked extensively in SQL, DevOps, and Front-End development, and loves to write about NoCode solutions as well.

Disclosure: Hackr.io is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

In this article

  • USSD Code To Check If Phone Is Hacked 
  • Want To Become An Ethical Hacker? Use These Hacking Tools! Ethical Hacking
  • Best Laptop for Hacking: Top 7 Picks in 2024 Ethical Hacking
  • How to Become an Ethical Hacker in 2024 Ethical Hacking

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COMMENTS

  1. My Phone Was Hacked. How Do I Fix It?

    Updated on June 1, 2021 Reviewed by Michael Barton Heine Jr A hacked phone is terrible news, so if you think someone hacked your phone, you need to fix it as soon as possible. This article explains how to repair the damage (as much as possible) and get back to everyday life. How Do I Know If My Phone Has Been Hacked?

  2. Your Android phone could have stalkerware, here's how to

    Check if a device admin app has been installed Device admin options have similar but even broader access to Android as the accessibility features. These device admin options are designed to be used...

  3. Ghost touch or a hacked phone?

    02-11-2022 08:01 PM in Galaxy Note Phones I have a Galaxy Note 9 that I got back in March 2019. I have never had any major issues with it up until recently. Back in December, my Google account got hacked. A game randomly started downloading to my phone, so I stopped the download and made sure that it wasn't installed. It was not installed.

  4. Is My Phone Hacked? Here's how to check

    Yes, hackers successfully target smartphones to spy on private conversations, steal credentials, or distribute mobile malware to other contacts. Even iOS devices that are generally considered secure aren't 100% fool-proof and require additional cybersecurity software.

  5. How to remove a hacker from my phone

    To remove a hacker from your phone, you should review app permissions, remove unfamiliar apps, update the operating system, clear cache, or do a factory reset.

  6. 7 Codes to Check if Phone is Hacked or Tapped (and What to Do)

    For Being Hacked. *#06# - This code will show you the IMEI number of your phone. The IMEI number is a unique identifier assigned to every mobile device. If you see a different IMEI number than the one usually associated with your phone, it's possible that your phone has been hacked.