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Is your spouse cheating? Tech clues can reveal the truth

Nov. 17, 2012 at 4:54 PM ET

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Three years ago, it was Tiger Woods who was undone by technology after being caught cheating through salacious text messages and voicemails he sent to his alleged mistresses. Now the head of the CIA, retired General David Petraeus, and his biographer Paula Broadwell are in the spotlight after their affair was uncovered by the FBI.

Of course if you suspect your spouse is cheating on you, it's unlikely you'll have the FBI helping uncover the truth. But, as with Woods and Petraeus, there are many tech clues cheaters leave behind on their cellphones, computers and other electronic gadgets that you can look for on your own.

(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.)

Calls on your spouse's cellphone

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.

Cellphone address book names 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.

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.

Voicemail messages

Perhaps your spouse chose to save a couple of the steamy ones for later playback.

A second cellphone or spare SIM card

If your spouse is clever, he or she will be using a second cellphone — 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 cellphone 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.

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Hidden messages 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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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