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    How to check if your Android phone is cloned

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    Pau Monfort
    @paumonfort

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    Phone cloning is quite popular in the entertainment industry. By doing this, filmmakers are able to spy on someone's activities. In reality, things are a bit different, as phone cloning isn't exactly easy to do.


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    But that doesn't make cloning your phone impossible, or even unlikely in some cases, especially since older phones are more susceptible to cloning than new ones. Here's what you need to know about how cloning works, what it can mean for you, and how to check if a device has been cloned.



    WHAT IS PHONE CLONING?

    Put simply, phone cloning involves copying the identity of one mobile device in order to use it on another. Although there are three main methods of cloning, AMPS, CDMA and GSM cloning, only the latter is more popular.

    GSM cloning is based on the identification and copy of the IMEI or international identity number of the mobile equipment. This is a unique identifier that can be obtained through hacking. Also in GSM cloning schemes you will find hardware SIM card cloning. In most cases this would require physical access to the SIM card to extract its K code.


    While phone cloning is illegal in most countries, phone cloning still remains a thriving industry. However, due to the complexity of some of the detection methods, such as radio fingerprints, very few users run the risk of cloning their phones. Most modern smartphones are more susceptible to direct hacking than cloning.

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    HOW TO CHECK IF YOUR PHONE HAS BEEN CLONED

    If your phone has been cloned via a very simple IMEI cloning method, you may be able to locate the duplicate using phone tracking software such as Find My iPhone (Apple) or Find My Phone (Android).



    1. Log in to your account.
    2. Use the map to locate your phone's location.
    3. Check for another or duplicate marker.

    If you see that more than one device is pinged and you know you only have one phone, it is possible that the secondary device is the cloned version of your phone.


    Another method that may work is to check all the expenses on the account. If you find discrepancies like calling numbers you don't know, your phone may have been cloned. Plus, you don't have to wait until the end of the month to do this.

    Once you have verified that your phone has been cloned, you can request a preliminary invoice and start verifying your expenses. However, be aware that not all criminals clone phones to use them to call or consume mobile data. Some simply clone devices and wait for sensitive information to be sent or received via SMS - information they can use for monetary gain.

    HOW TO CHECK IF YOU ARE USING A CLONED PHONE

    It may be easier to tell if you are using a cloned phone than to know if your phone has been cloned. Why would anyone sell you a cloned phone? Well, there could be dozens of reasons, but the main one will always be profit.


    To check if you are using a cloned phone, you can start by paying close attention to text messages and incoming calls. Too many incoming calls and messages from unknown numbers and unknown senders could indicate that you are not the sole owner of your phone and number.


    You can also check the IMEI and serial numbers online on the manufacturer's website. If they match, you should be the sole owner of that phone. If there are any discrepancies then it is likely that you are using a cloned phone or at least a fake phone.


    Another thing you could do is check the build quality. Check it with an unboxed phone of the same model. Look for anything out of the ordinary with regards to weight, accessories, existing software, OS version and performance.

    If your phone isn't performing as it should or if it's lighter than it should be, then you may be dealing with a cloned phone. Buying phones from unverified or off-Craigslist providers are just two of the ways you might end up with a cloned phone in your hands.


    CLONING: LESS PROBLEMS BUT STILL PROBLEMS

    There isn't much phone cloning these days as both carriers and hardware manufacturers have developed more advanced methods to combat this nefarious act. With this in mind, once your phone is successfully cloned, you could potentially be subject to blackmail, identity theft, etc.

    You may also need to face the fact that it may be impossible to determine if your phone has been cloned or not. There are many sophisticated cloning devices that may leave no traces. Let us know how you feel about phone cloning, how often do you think it happens, and what your thoughts are on prevention methods.

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    Further Reading:

    • How to clone a phone without ever touching it
    • How to check if there are Android updates available
    • How to fix SD card not detected
    • How to find IMEI number on any Huawei / Honor device
    • How to sync Fitbit Versa with Android
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