Nowadays, many vehicles are equipped with a GPS vehicle tracking system to help improve security and increase the chances of recovery in the event of the vehicle being stolen.
Most vehicle trackers are installed by the owner of the vehicle or a fleet manager across their fleet, however, it is possible for just about anyone to equip a vehicle with a GPS vehicle tracking system without the owner’s knowledge or consent.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at the legality around tracking vehicles without the owner’s consent or knowledge and what you can do if you suspect someone is tracking your car.
Legally, no. In order to track a vehicle, the driver must be made aware and consent to being tracked under the Human Rights Act 1998 that sets the right to respect for a person’s private and family life, their home and their correspondence.
GDPR is another piece of legislation that is crucial to the legality of tracking a car without the owner’s consent. According to the legislation, you must only gather someone’s personal data if you have their explicit permission to do so.
As with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, only public authorities such as the police and government are exempt from these regulations if they can justify the need to gather personal information without the subject’s knowledge and permission.
In short, yes. Despite the laws and regulations surrounding vehicle tracking, nowadays, it’s simple to order a GPS vehicle tracking system online and secretly hide it inside a glovebox, under a seat or even under a vehicle itself.
Due to their small sizes and discreet designs, it is easy for them to go unnoticed and, even if a driver realises they are being tracked, they may struggle to locate the device itself.
As bumpers are made of injected-moulded ABS, they’re an ideal place for someone to hide a vehicle tracker. To check behind your bumper, we recommend using a mirror with a long handle and a torch to look under your car.
If you can’t see a tracker behind either of your bumpers, continue to inspect the car’s undercarriage, keeping an eye on any part that looks noticeably cleaner than the rest of the undercarriage..
Another place to check is inside your wheel wells. Although this isn’t the best place to fit a tracker, an inexperienced user may have hidden one there.
Finally, take a look under your car’s bonnet and look out for any wires connected to the vehicle’s battery that could lead to a GPS tracker. Unless you’re absolutely sure you spot a tracker, we wouldn’t recommend unplugging any wires.
The simplest trackers to locate are those that can be plugged directly into the OBD data port behind the dashboard or the 12V cigarette lighter receptacle.
If you can’t spot a GPS tracker in these locations, take a look at the rest of the interior including the dashboard, storage compartments, beneath the front and back seats and under the spare tyre.
If you find a GPS tracker attached to your car that you did not consent to, you should report it to the police.
Depending on the type of tracking system, they may be able to find out who attached it to your vehicle and all legal proceedings can be taken from there.
For more information and advice on vehicle tracking, check out our handy guides on our fleet tracking blog.