Thirty-seven million cheating husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends that turned to Ashley Madison for an illicit affair are holding their breath this week to see if they’ll be exposed by the hacker group The Impact Team. Even if the names aren’t revealed, the breach serves as a reminder that lovers that are engaged in an affair can often be tripped up by the technology they use. In fact, there are many tech clues cheaters leave behind on their cell phones, computers and other electronic gadgets that you can look for.
A word of caution
Before engaging in any electronic snooping, be aware that there are strong federal and state electronic-eavesdropping and hacking laws in place to protect our privacy. It would be wise to consult with an attorney to ensure you don't engage in any activities that are in violation of the law—if you end up in a nasty divorce, being charged with spying crimes is not a good position to be in.
Tech clues to a cheating spouse
1. Calls on your spouse's cell phone
Are there numerous calls to numbers you don’t recognize, especially at odd hours of the day or night? You can often determine who owns a particular landline number simply by entering the number into Google search.
2. Cell phone address book names and numbers you don’t recognize
Chances are your spouse won’t take the risk of entering the full name of the person he or she is cheating with, so look for numbers that are identified merely with initials or a first name. Or, he or she may add a lover’s number to a family member or friend’s contact entry to mask his or her identity.
3. Incriminating text messages and emails
Text messages and emails are the modern means of sending love letters, and your spouse may have kept them on his or her phone for ongoing enjoyment. And be sure to check the "deleted items" or "trash" folder. People frequently let their discarded emails linger for weeks before they're permanently erased.
Also look for secondary messaging apps like SnapChat that are designed for temporary sharing of text messages, photos and videos.
4. Voicemail messages
Perhaps your spouse chose to save a couple of the steamy ones for later playback. And if your spouse uses your carrier’s visual voicemail feature, the messages may be backed up online.
5. A second cell phone or SIM card
If your spouse is clever, he or she will be using a second cell phone—or just a second SIM card—-for communicating with his or her lover. However, people slip up occasionally. If your spouse calls you from a cell phone number you don’t recognize, that may be cause for suspicion. Try calling the other number when your spouse is home and see how they react. If you happen to find an extra SIM card, stick it in a phone and see what phone numbers are stored on it.
6. Apps to hide messages or apps
There are apps available, such as NQ Mobile Vault, that let you store text messages, phone contacts, photos and more in a password-protected, encrypted folder on your smartphone. If you find one of these apps and there's no obvious reason why your spouse would need it, that may be cause for suspicion. And if your spouse chose an app with poor security, accessing the contents can be quite easy.
There are ways to hide apps on iPhones by nesting them in folders. But those apps can still be found using the iOS search feature (touch the middle of the screen and swipe down).
For Android devices, you’ll want to open the menu in the app drawer and select “Show hidden apps.” Other apps, like NQ Mobile Vault, require a hidden passcode, so you may not find anything.
7. Computer's browsing history
If your spouse is supposed to be on a business trip to Seattle but browsing hotels in New York, this is where the browser history can help you out. Also, the browser history may reveal whether they're visiting email sites (e.g., Gmail, Hotmail) where you didn't know they had an account.
8. Frequent-flier account
Did your spouse purchase an extra ticket with miles or are there frequent-flier miles for a trip to New York when they were supposed to be in Seattle? You may be able to log in to your spouse's account online if their login info is stored in the browser or password bank, otherwise check their email for their monthly statement.
9. Toll pass history
If you use E-ZPass or another toll payment system in your cars, check the online statement. Is there unusual activity showing your spouse driving on the New Jersey Turnpike when they’re supposed to be at work in Westchester?
10. Previous destinations in your spouse’s navigation system
Practically every nav system—built-in, portable and on your phone—has a list of previous destinations. If the No-Tell Motel off the Jersey Turnpike is on there and your spouse doesn’t work in the hospitality business, that’s a sign something may be up.
Updated on 7/21/2015 with new recommendations.