Here's how tech can tell that your partner is cheating on you

·7 min read

People underestimate intuition. If your gut tells you something is off, don’t ignore it.

Stalkerware is surprisingly easy to plant on someone’s phone, and trackers follow you online and offline. Tap or click for signs whether you’re being watched or just paranoid.

Tracking software is frightening. It’s designed to report exactly where you are and what you’re doing on your phone. Tap or click for signs tracking software on your phone and what you can do about it.

Before we get to the digital cheating crumbs, my best advice is to have an honest conversation with your partner. Couples therapy is an excellent place to dive into deeper issues. It's also a good idea to consult with an attorney before you begin looking to make sure you do not violate any federal or state laws.

1. Glued to their devices

Is your spouse or partner always glued to their phone or computer? Maybe work is crazy right now or perhaps they're busy chatting with someone.

Pay attention to the way they behave with their devices. Many people turn their phones away from others to protect their privacy, but most don't hide their phones from their spouses. The same goes for shuffling browser tabs or switching off a tablet.

These gestures are subtle and can suggest your partner is doing something they don’t want you to see.

Notifications can give away cheaters, too. You don’t need to be up to no good to take control of your notifications, though. Tap or click for easy ways to end all the dinging and buzzing when you want a little peace.

2. Apps can hide secret calls and texts

In the movies, people aren’t very sneaky. In real life, people go to great lengths to hide their indiscretions. Unless your partner is particularly daring, you're not going to see a chat app on their home screen or steamy messages in their text message folder.

There are plenty of apps for sharing messages, photos, videos and more that aren't what they appear. Calculator Pro+ is one example. It looks like a calculator but saves texts and call logs of secret contacts.

To get a better idea of what apps your spouse uses and how long, check their screen time report. Look for anything out of the ordinary. I’d say using a calculator app for four hours a week counts as odd.

Check screen time and usage on an iPhone:

• Go to Settings > Screen Time. Choose See All Activity, then Week. This will show a summary of weekly use.

• You can tap Day to see a daily use summary.

Check app usage on an Android:

• Tap Settings > Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls > Dashboard to view screen times for each app.

Screen time shows what apps have been on screen and for how long.

3. Look for a second number

An easy way to keep two romantic lives separate is to buy two separate phones. That way, the cheater doesn't get confused and text the wrong person by mistake. A second phone is also a liability, even if expressed as a "work" or "emergency” phone.

Another technique is to purchase a separate SIM card. Some phones allow you to have two SIM cards that can be a hassle. A much easier way is to get a Google Voice number that rings on the current phone.

Any new entries for people or companies you are unfamiliar with could be a ruse. Call the number and see who answers. It's a good idea to block your number.

Tap or click here for 5 ways to block or hide your number when making a call.

4. Search every letter of the alphabet

Cheaters would have to be stupid not to clear the search histories on their browsers. If they routinely access dating sites, they will probably think to cover their tracks.

Auto-fill is harder to remember. Search engines like Google do a remarkable job of guessing your search parameters based on everything you have ever searched before.

If you share a computer with a suspect spouse, you may intend to type “Megalodon” and instead, the words “Megan Granger home phone number” flash across the field. Take this a few steps further. Start typing each letter of the alphabet and see what pops up.

Tap or click for 10 hidden Google search features you should be using.

5. Secret messages and online documents

The most dangerous habit for cheaters is to send photos and videos. These media may spice things up, but they are vivid evidence of an affair. Such materials can be used as evidence in divorce proceedings – especially if a betrayed husband or wife can save or download copies.

It’s easy work to embed an image into an audio or picture file secretly. Tools like OurSecret or QuickStego make this point-and-click work for the casual cheater. The snoop usually suspects nothing unusual. The files appear to be ordinary. You need to know a special keystroke or code to unlock the files.

Cheaters are also known to create online Google documents or Microsoft 365 files that look innocent until opened. The filename might be, for example, “Third quarter goals.” When the file is opened, the first page appears to be a bunch of corporate speak.

But scrolling down reveals the file's real purpose. The online document is a covert way to share notes, photos, and videos with someone else.

Need to send a message that stays private? Tap or click for my picks for encrypted emails and texts.

6. Check cloud services, including Amazon Prime

To keep images and videos covert, cheaters may also use a particular cloud service. For example, the Keepsafe Photo Vault is designed to both store these media files and prevent others from accessing them. Many customers use Keepsafe for work or personal reasons, but if you notice that your spouse has a Keepsafe account and can’t figure out why, you may be onto something.

Two similar services are Vault and Hide It Pro, which were created to store photos and video and protect them with a PIN. They also function similarly to cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Apple’s iCloud, but security is their top priority.

Be sure to think out of the online cloud box. Check Amazon Prime because you get a free photo vault as part of your membership.

An Amazon Prime membership includes a whole lot more. Tap or click here for 20 ways to get more out of your Amazon account.

7. Check the phone’s locations

As we become more reliant on GPS, you may also want to peek at your spouse’s location history. For Google users, the “previous destinations” menu option on the navigation system may chronicle your spouse’s movements; for Android users, the Google Timeline feature (found in the Google Maps app or Google Maps online) functions similarly.

If your spouse uses an iPhone, there is one place to be sure to look. Many people don’t even know this treasure trove of tracking exists.

You can find an iPhone user’s frequent locations in Settings, Privacy, Location Services, System Services and then Significant Locations. It takes a fair amount of effort to disable or delete these types of settings consistently, so if they are up to no good, you’re likely to find something.

You may want to turn off this feature on your own phone if this practice creeps you out. Tap or click here for steps on how to do it.

8. Go through the trash

Deleted digital items are typically never gone for good. A computer’s trash or recycle bin retains items until the bin is emptied. Cloud services such as DropBox let you restore items from the trash.

Emails deleted accumulate in the trash until it's emptied. Voicemails on an iPhone are deleted, but they can be retrieved. Apps deleted from a phone can be restored too. If you're using carrier services, voicemails may be available on its site.

It can be all-consuming to find evidence of a cheater. Be sure you take care of yourself in the process.

Bonus Tip: Self-driving cars: Are they actually safe to drive?

Self-driving cars aren't some crazy future tech. They're here now. That raises some questions. Does it actually work? Is it safe? Is it work shelling out $8,000 for Tesla’s “full self-driving” option? To find out, I sat down with Consumer Report’s Head of Connected and Automated Vehicle Testing. Hop in and buckle up.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Always on the phone? Hiding the screen? Clues your partner is cheating

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