People cheat. Not everyone, not all the time, but extramarital affairs are downright common. Even now, in the age of serial divorces and polyamory, when marriage is as flexible — and even disposable — as it ever has been, devoted husbands and wives succumb to temptation.
In addition, camera technology has advanced a lot in the past few years. They keep getting smaller and smaller, making it possible to conceal them any which way.
Spycam manufacturers have been creative in producing some of the most cleverly disguised (and tiny) camera/DVR systems, complete with HD video, motion detection, large storage card support and remote controls. .
In many ways, technology makes infidelity easier to pull off. Spouses can hold erotic video chats, send “pins” that mark their favorite meeting spots, and exchange images and text with their lovers in countless different ways. An actual tryst requires people to be physically present in the same place, but foreplay can happen anytime, anywhere — and the faithful may have no idea.
At the same time, years of marriage will hone a spouse’s instincts, and we often know when something seems funny. Computers, tablets, and smartphones absorb adulterous evidence like a sponge, and once suspicions are aroused, tech can offer many clues about a potential dalliance.
Let me be clear: The best thing you can do is have a frank and honest conversation with your spouse about your marriage. Couples therapy can work wonders. However, if your relationship wasn’t healthy to begin with, or you need something tangible before starting divorce proceedings, these are basic methods for busting a cheater.
1. A hidden or locked phone
Push notifications are a nightmare for unfaithful spouses, because they may show snippets of conversation — from texts, emails, and so on — that could incriminate both parties. Spotting a suspicious push notification, or even noticing the sudden absence of them, can be suggestive.
2. A second phone
The easiest 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. The existence of this second phone is also a liability, even if it is described as a “work” or “emergency” phone.
Another technique is to purchase a separate SIM card, which can be switched out of phones that have been “jail-broken.” This is a lot of work and unlikely for most cheaters, but if you find a SIM card lying around, you may be able to extract its data by inserting it into another phone.
3. Scanning any digital receipts
Receipts are often sent by text message or email. If you have access to your spouse’s online accounts, you may be surprised to find these digital receipts for products and services you’ve never heard of. (Read: hotels, restaurants, jewelry stores). Most people don’t leave a physical “paper trail,” but virtual documentation often persists.
The same goes for frequent flyer miles and credit card points, which a cheater may spend on a fling. Cheaters often go to great lengths to avoid using their checking and credit card accounts, but there are many other ways to pay for a rendezvous, from Groupon to Paypal to Venmo, and they will still leave a trace of their transactions.
4. Try to find their phones
Many popular devices utilize some form of location technology and often make it easier to have the service turned on than to disable it. If your spouse uses an Apple device that is connected to a family account and they have enabled location sharing, you can locate their device by logging on iCloud.com and clicking on Find My iPhone or by using the Find My Friends app.
If your spouse uses an Android phone and is logged on to Google on a shared computer, you can type “Find My Phone” into the search bar, and you’ll be provided with the phone’s location.
5. Then, look to GPS
As we become more reliant on GPS these days, you may also want to take a 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 if they are logged in) 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 their frequent locations in Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Significant Locations. It takes a fair amount of effort to consistently disable or delete these types of settings so if they are up to no good, you’re likely to find something here.
6. Search every letter of the alphabet
Cheaters would have to be pretty stupid not to clear the search histories on their browsers. If they routinely access dating sites, especially hook-up services like Ashley Madison and AdultFriendFinder, they will probably think to cover their tracks, unless they like flirting with disaster as much as attractive strangers.
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.
7. Check cloud services
The most dangerous habit for cheaters is to send photos and video. These media may spice things up, but they are vivid evidence of an affair, and such materials can be used as evidence in divorce proceedings — especially if a betrayed husband or wife can save or download copies.
To keep these images and video covert, cheaters may have a special 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 you 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, and Apple’s iCloud, but security is their top priority. Be sure to check on Amazon Prime because this service gives you a place to store your photos, too.
8. Secret messages hidden in audio or photo files
If your cheater is savvy, he or she may know how to secretly embed an image into an audio or picture file. You think it’s a familiar song or a landscape shot but a steamy pose might be hidden behind the notes and trees.
It’s easy to make these files and even easier to distribute them unnoticed. Tools like DeepSound 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.
Technological espionage is the least-healthy way to address these problems, and you should only use these techniques as a last resort. Infringing on your spouse’s privacy can cause even more damage, and certain kinds of infringements are bona fide illegal.
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Learn about all the latest technology on the 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.