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You may be able to locate someone using their phone, depending on the circumstances and the permissions granted by the person. Here are some ways to do that.
Use a GPS tracking app
Several GPS tracking apps can be installed on a person’s phone with their permission. These apps can help locate the phone and the person carrying it, provided that the phone has a signal and is turned on.
Find My Device (Android) and Find My (iPhone) are built-in phone tracking features that can help locate a lost or stolen phone. If the person has enabled these features and you have access to their Google or iCloud account, respectively, you may be able to locate their phone.
Contact the phone carrier
In some cases, phone carriers can assist in locating a phone if it has been lost or stolen. However, they may require a police report before providing this information.
Use “Account Circle”
Open Google Maps on your smartphone. Tap on your initial Circle or profile picture and then go to ‘Location sharing.’ You’ll see a list of contacts and their profiles. If the person you are looking for is on the list, tap on their profile.
Remember that you can’t track anyone on Google Maps without their consent. If they don’t allow location sharing, you can’t track them. You can use GPS and IMEI trackers to find a mobile number’s location in real-time.
Check app data
Some smartphone apps record users’ movement during the day for a number of reasons: ordering a cab or food, plotting a jogging route, etc. If you want to find a missing person and have access to their login details, it might be possible to get this information by accessing their profile on the app and checking its history.
An attorney or the police can help you get this information by submitting a legal request to the app provider.
Mobile phones can record and report someone’s location even without a cell tower connection. All they need is Wi-Fi. This is why people can get more location data from apps than only through the telecommunication network.
Track a phone by IP address
If you know the phone’s IP address, you can generally track it. However, it’s not easy to get an exact location without data from the ISP. They normally only give this information if they receive a court order or the police contact them.
There are publicly accessible websites that let you check IP addresses, but they won’t provide enough information. You can find the city in which the phone is located, but a street and number are out of the question. If they are using a VPN, the location mapping will be thrown off.
To get a phone’s IP address, check if it’s accessing any media streaming services, email services, or others requiring a login. If the phone is logged on with your account and you also log into the services, it might be possible to see its IP address and ballpark location.
What to do when someone goes missing
When someone goes missing, contact the police as soon as possible, especially if they are underage. There is no compulsory waiting period for filing a missing person report. The faster you do it, the quicker the police can start looking.
If the missing person is of legal age, there are limits to what the police can do. It is not illegal for an adult to disappear.
Your report should contain detailed information about the missing person’s appearance and the place where they were last seen. It would help if you provided the following information:
- A recent photo of the person
- Their height, weight, build, age, eye color, and hair color
- A list of nicknames or aliases they use
- What they were last seen wearing
- Any scars or tattoos, if applicable
- A list of items they might be carrying
- A list of medications the person takes, if any,
- A list of places they go to often
- A list of relatives or friends
- A description of their vehicle, if applicable
- The circumstances in which they went missing
Keep a copy of the report, write down the case number and the name of the officer your case was assigned to, and contact them when you wish to follow up.