15 Signs the Government Is Spying on You (and 5 Ways They’re Already Watching You Every Day)

With technology advancing each day, we’re all a bit concerned for our privacy. But you’d know if the government was keeping tabs on you, right? Scarily enough, the ACLU says the government is slicker than you think. Think someone is spying on you? Here are the bizarre signs to watch out for. Make sure you turn off one tech item ASAP on page 10.

1. You own a ‘smart’ TV

Teenager girl eating and watching 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 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 worries many.

Samsung told the news source that “protecting consumers’ privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority,” and they were “urgently looking into the matter.” For now, though, you may want to be careful about what you say when you watch your favorite show.

Next: Do you keep ignoring that “update now” alert?

2. You haven’t updated your devices

business person using a laptop

Business person using a laptop | Thinkstock

“You have to take care of basic cyber hygiene,” Michael Kaiser of the National Cyber Security Alliance told MarketWatch. One of the best ways to prevent security breaches: Keeping your devices updated. Outdated software is much more likely to be compromised. And more authorities are checking in than ever before.

One example occurred in 2015, when it was found that 95% of Androids could be hacked with one text message. Apple experienced a similar problem, and they pushed through an update remotely. It may seem pesky, but when you receive an update alert, do it ASAP.

Next: What happens at the airport can certainly tell a lot. 

3. You get flagged at the airport

A family at the airport pushing luggage

A family at the airport pushing luggage | Deklofenak/iStock/Getty Images

You may get flagged at the airport once or twice, but take note if it happens often. HowStuffWorks explains if you’re repeatedly stopped at the airport, it’s a sign your name — whether it’s you or not — is on a 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 “unreliable or not credible” information, social media posts aren’t automatically disregarded like you may think.

Next: These cookies aren’t so delicious.

4. You’re sharing your cookies

oatmeal cookies

No, not these kind of cookies. | Dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images

Tiny bits of data stored in your browser track your online activity. These cookies hold on to everything from your passwords to something you considered purchasing on Amazon. The bad thing: Cookies enter gigantic databases, where companies can figure out your offline identity and sell that information. The Huffington Post explains, “There are two main groups who have access: the government (including the NSA and local police departments) and the private sector (i.e.: the advertising industry).”

Next: Free money and prizes are too good to be true.

5. You’ve opened fishy emails

Smart phone with new message

Delete fishy emails ASAP. | CarmenMurillo/iStock/Getty Images

We’ve all received suspicious emails. The question is did you open one? Just by clicking on it, you invite the sender onto your device. Whether its the government or a spammer invading your personal privacy, the first thing you should do is delete the email without opening it. Whatever you do, don’t reply to the email. This confirms your account is active, which invites further espionage.

Next: Your name might get you in trouble.

6. You and someone on the government watch list have the same name

FBI Agents collect evidence in Austin FedEx bombing

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. For years to come, every John Lewis had issues boarding a flight due to their names 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: Check your car every once in a while for one of these.

7. You find a tracker on your car

older man driving

Older man driving | AnnBaldwin/iStock/Getty Images

It’s not just your technology that the government can keep tabs on. Ranker notes trackers are often hidden in the undercarriage of a car. Small enough to miss, they can also fit in the wheel well or exhaust system, so someone can track your car’s location at all times. Scary. If you feel like you’re being followed, give your car a look, especially in smaller crevices. Anyone can buy these trackers online nowadays.

Next: Data is a strong way to measure security.

8. Your data usage is higher than what you really use

Person with fingerless gloves using their smartphone

Data can get costly fast. | KristinaJovanovic/iStock/Getty Images

You’re a dedicated Wi-Fi user, yet your data’s creeping up. The National Security Agency could be using your data to spy on your whereabouts, USA Today suggests. And local police are starting to use the same practice, too. Ranker notes rising data could be from spyware, that tracks your daily life. Hackers can use this technology to steal your personal information, too.

Next: Your favorite crime TV show isn’t the only place you could see this.

9. An unmarked van is parked outside your house

Surveillance van

Satellite on a van. | Hoaru/ iStock/Getty Images

No, it’s not just a cheesy prop from spy movies. The government really does use unmarked vehicles for surveillance. Not every van parked outside your house is cause for concern, but a few key indicators could mean it’s a surveillance van. Look for unmarked vans with tinted windows that are parked for several days without any sign of people entering or exiting the vehicle.

Next: Turn off your technology ASAP if you notice this terrifying sign.

10. The light on your webcam is on — even when you’re not using it

A woman using her laptop and drinking coffee

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. If you are worried, then turn your webcam off. If you’re unsure or unable to turn it off, then cover it with a piece of opaque tape. Covering the lens will prevent any potential spies from seeing anything, but remember your microphone will likely still be on.

Next: Do you feel crazy sometimes?

11. You hear weird noises during your phone calls

Stressed woman looking at her smartphone screen outdoors

Is it harder to hear during your phone calls? | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Yes, wiretapping happens. Toolbox explains if you hear noises while on the phone, such as clicking, popping, scratching, or static, then someone could be listening to your conversation. These sounds are common when a wiretap connects with a phone. Also, pay attention to noises your phone makes when you’re not using it — another sign someone’s messing with your line.

Next: Take note when things seem strange in your home.

12. Something seems amiss in your home

Man cleaning his living room

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 without any sort of warrant. This doesn’t mean the government will pick just anyone, but if they have reason to believe you’re a threat to society, you may find your whole home bugged.

Next: If you remember the same faces around you, it may be more than a coincidence. 

13. You see the same people around you all day

People stand before a ski lift in line in Bukovel

People stand before a ski lift in line | maroznc/iStock/Getty Images

NPR interviewed FBI agents and found they’re experts at blending into a crowd. 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, though you likely won’t notice. Now that you know, it’s important to remember faces instead of clothing if you think you’re being trailed.

Next: Have you been on a bad trip?

14. You’ve been drugged with LSD

Generation RX Documentary

The CIA took extreme methods with this experiment. | Source: Common Radius Films

Okay, this one seems a little odd. But in the ’50s, the CIA secretly dosed U.S. citizens with LSD to conduct research on psychedelics. The covert organization wanted to consider using drugs within Cold War espionage. However, the CIA broke the law when it drugged San Franciscans. “I was paranoid,” an affected American told SF Weekly. “I got down to where I thought everyone was against me. The whole world was against me.”

The public is unaware of any further CIA research on drugs, but you never know concerning this secretive organization.

Next: Follow any extreme groups with extreme caution.

15. You’re an active member of an extremist group

Actress Allison Mack appears In court over case involving alleged sex cult

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 closely, but the government sees more than you think. And if you’re part of any extremist groups, they know about it, too. Ranker notes the FBI’s definition of extremism involves “encouraging, condoning, justifying, or supporting the commission of a violent act to achieve political, ideological, religious, social, or economic goals.” So, pursue your interests with caution if they involve researching extremist groups.

Next: This is one way the government is surveilling you without you knowing it. 

16. How they’re watching: You’re sending emails

Young woman worried by what she sees on her phone

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.

17. How they’re watching: You allow websites to track you using cookies

Businessman checking email

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 view, so in a way, they can be 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.

18. How they’re watching: You’re driving

Woman applying makeup in the car

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 police cars and road signs can have automatic license plate readers to use as surveillance. The readers scan your license plate number, date, time, and location. This information is then potentially being pooled into large databases for authorities. And some of the info doesn’t disappear for years — or ever.

Next: Be careful of this the next time you sign up for a new credit card.

19. How they’re watching: You sign up for loyalty cards and programs

Older woman paying credit for purchases using her credit card

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?

20. How they’re watching: You’re walking in view of public cameras

A crowd of pedestrians crosses a street

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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