How to Trace the Location of a Mobile

By John Walker

The ability to know the location of a specific cell phone gives you the security of knowing where family members are or where your misplaced or stolen phone may be. With GPS technology, cellular providers and third-party content providers have developed various applications and programs that are capable of sending a signal to a phone and identifying the location of that phone usually to within several feet (depending on signal quality). All the major providers offer service of this nature.

Sign Up for and Set up Locating Programs

Step 1

Go to your provider's website and sign up for the variations of family locators. AT&T uses Family Map, while Sprint and Verizon dub their variations Family Locator. All three operate from a PC and allow the account holder to track the location of any phone associated with the program.

Step 2

Open the program and select the phone you wish to locate. Choose the "locate" option and the screen will display that phone's approximate location as long as the phone is turned on and within range of a cellular tower.

Step 3

Contact third-party providers. Telenav offers a business variation of family locators called Trak LITE that allows companies to sign up for GPS tracking of company-owned cell phones. Trak LITE operates in the same manner but Telenav provides on-site training when setting up the tracking system. You simply open the program, select the mobile device you wish to track, and the program provides the approximate location of the device.

Step 4

Load a GPS tracking application onto your phone. Several phones offer GPS tracking security applications. Apple's iPhone offers "Find My iPhone" free through the App store. This specific program allows you to sign-up for a Mobile ME account and if your phone is lost or stolen, you can download the "Find My iPhone" app to another iPhone and use the locate and lock options.

Tips & Warnings

  • GPS location only works if the phone is on and connected to a wireless network. GPS sends a signal to the device's smartcard. If the smartcard has been removed, you will be unable to locate your phone. If you discover your phone is missing, most providers are unable to assist in locating unless you have previously signed up for a locating program or downloaded an application to the phone.