How to catch a cheater

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Infidelity, adultery, cheating and being unfaithful, sadly, are very common. If you suspect your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend are cheating, chances are, you are right, says Ken Childs, founder of Paramount Investigative Services, a Beverly Hills, Calif. private investigative service. “Go with your instincts,” says Childs who has appeared in Access Hollywood, The Dr. Phil Show, The Dr. Oz Show, and Buzzfeed. “If you think someone is cheating, they probably are.”

And cheating is common. A report by the Institute for Family Studies found that 20% of men and 13% of women reported that they’ve had sex with someone other than their spouse while married — though younger women under the age of 30 are more likely than men to cheat. Other interesting trends in the report emerged: Democrats are more likely to cheat than Republicans or Independents, by race, liklihood of cheating lead by Blacks, followed by whites then hispanics:

catch a cheat.

This post will help you understand whether your partner is likely cheating, what to do about it, how to catch a cheat, plus how to work with a private investigator to catch an unfaithful husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend.

Is he cheating or am I paranoid? 6 signs of a cheating husband, boyfriend, wife or girlfriend

First off: trust your instincts, says Childs whose Los Angeles PI practice frequently deals with requests to catch cheaters. “90% of the time, people's suspicions are substantiated, the rest of the time, the client is cheating but projecting on their partner,” he says.

Childs shares these common signs your significant other is fooling around:

  • Texting with their shoulder turned — then suddenly putting down phone once you walk in the room. Same for using the computer or talking on the phone. “Listen to your instincts,” Childs says.
  • You find a second, secrete phone.
  • Changing passcode to a shared account without a good reason — or a shady excuse.
  • Missed periods of time. For example, you expected them to be gone at the gym for an hour, but three hours passed.
  • A spare change of clothes mysteriously stored in the car.
  • Suspicious charges on the credit card, or unaccounted for sums of cash spent.

How to catch a cheater

Keep reading about how to:

  • How to catch a cheating wife or girlfriend
  • How to catch a cheating husband or boyfriend

You may work with a private investigator, or use some of the tactics used by professional PIs to catch a cheat.

Beverly Hills private investigator Ken Childs shares his secrets and tips to catching a cheat:

Adds Beth Ribarsky, communications professor at University of Illinois Springfield: “It’s important to remember that affairs aren’t just the typical physical infidelity that we think of. Emotional affairs involve turning to another partner and sharing thoughts, feelings, and emotional intimacy that would typically be reserved for a spouse/romantic partner. Some emotional affairs remain just that. And, some physical affairs are just sexual in nature. However, it is not unusual for affairs to be both emotional and physical.”

Other signs of an affair, according to Ribarsky:

  • If they once frequently kissed you goodbye or said, ‘I love you,' but they no longer do, they are making themselves increasingly distant from you.
  • They begin spending more time away from home. And, if you ask where they were or where they are going, they are vague.
  • They become increasingly secretive, especially when it comes to technology. Yes, it’s great if they are planning a surprise for you (Yes, I have a friend who thought her boyfriend was cheating, but he was really planning a surprise party). However, if your partner continually hides their phone, takes calls in the other room, quickly shuts the computer when you enter the room or becomes defensive when you ask to borrow their phone, it should make you question what they might be hiding.
  • Are they suddenly putting significantly more emphasis into their appearance? Again, maybe they are just taking on a healthier lifestyle, but when combined with other signs, it can be a signal something is wrong.

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Childs said that if you do not have the password to your spouse's computer or phone, there is no way he or you or anyone else can hack into their device and read text messages or search histories. “Apple offers a $100,000 reward to anyone who can hack their phones,” he points out.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend has an Apple product, and they delete their texts, you may be able to find iMessages on their Macbook.

Childs also recommends WonderShare's Recoverit app that can find deleted messages — as long as you have access to your spouse's computer, phone or tablet.

These are similar products on the market that have been promoted as helping to catch a cheat, but all require you have access to the device:

  • Minspy app
  • mSpy app
  • Spyic app
  • Spyier app
  • Spyine app
  • WebWatcher app

If you are dating someone new and suspect that they may sill be married or live with a partner, PeopleFinders is an affordable and reputable online people search tool.

Another trick is to use the Find My app on an Apple device. Also, if you share or have a linked account for an app like Fitbit, Uber, Lyft and see suspicious activity via that technology, that can be useful in catching someone having an affair.

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What should you do if you catch your spouse cheating?

What do I do? How to confront and deal with your cheating spouse or partner

  • “My boyfriend is cheating:”
  • “My girlfriend is cheating.”
  • “My husband is cheating.”
  • “My wife is cheating.”

If and when you do catch an unfaithful partner, the key is to stay calm, wait a few days, then confront your spouse or girlfriend calmly.

“Don't make any knee-jerk reactions and blow it up just because someone slept with someone else,” Childs advises. “You have to think about the rest of your life.”

Differences between the genders when it comes to infidelity?

“Men never cheat up, and women cheat with the complete opposite type of guy,” Childs has observed. Also, when it comes to facing the infidelity, “men get really worked up, and I think women can handle it a little better,” Childs says.

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Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, a licensed clinical professional counselor and Certified Relationship Therapist, is co-founder of, a Baltimore, Md., based effort to restore marriages.

Slatkin said there are two parts of confronting the cheater: Addressing the (possible) infidelity and moving forward after.

Slatkin says:

“If you don't have any evidence, confronting your spouse may provoke a defensive response and no admission, so it may not yield any results. I don't recommend spying on your spouse, at the same time you have a right to know if they are cheating on you. Phone records or emails are an easy way to find out if there are any unusual communications going on.

If you do have evidence, make a time to sit down and talk with them and, as calm as possible, present them with the findings. Depending on whether you are interested in staying together after the affair, you will want to insist on finding a good therapist to help you through this.

You are no doubt confused, hurt, betrayed and angry. Realize that this
process of getting over the affair will take time. Try to remain as calm as possible.

It makes sense that you would want to lash out at your spouse and hurt them back and that is not going to be in your best interest in the long run. You will want to find a calm way to discuss what happened with your spouse eventually.”

Childs estimates that about half of his clients who cheated stay in the marriage, and the other half divorce. “About 50% have a super-intense moment with a big blowup, but several clients come back and told me how through therapy and revealing what got them there, they were able to make the marriage work.

Read Esther Perel's bestselling The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity.

Learn more about the best and most affordable online therapy apps.

FAQ Private investigators for cheating:

How much does it cost?

Expect to pay a private investigator $60 to 200 per hour, and a typical case takes a couple of afternoons of following. “It's not as expensive as you think,” Childs says.

Listen to the Like a Mother with Emma Johnson podcast interview with Ken Childs:

Can private investigators read text messages?

Since it is nearly impossible to break into someone's phone, private investigators typically do not hack devices or otherwise use technology to catch a cheat.

Can a private investigator obtain cell phone records?

Just like any other private citizen, private investigators cannot legally obtain phone, financial, or medical records without the person's consent or a subpoena.

PIs do not have any more legal rights to follow, tape, video record, acess private records or accounts or otherwise stalk an individual than the average citizen.

Is it legal for someone to hire a private investigator?

It is 100% legal to hire a private investigator.

Is it worth it to hire a private investigator?

Private investigators very often are hired by spouses who suspect their partner is cheating. Tactics are less stealth than many people suspect, Childs says, and typically include following the person in question for a few hours each day over a few days, using video cameras with high-powered lenses, and documenting any behaviors that can prove or confirm cheating.

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How to hire a private investigator

First, do your homework and abide by this check list:

  • Make sure the investigator is licensed and insured
  • Check their Yelp and Google reviews
  • Ask how many years experience they have — keep in mind this is not a regulated industry
  • Ask for a reference (ideally, get referred by a friend or attorney)
  • Ask that they send you a scrubbed report to get a sense of their work and professionalism
  • Call them and get a sense of if you trust them and have good chemistry.
  • Avoid anyone who is wearing a cheesy fedora in their profile pic. “You don't want some wannabe cop or tough guy,” Childs says.

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Is Bumble a good dating app for women? founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

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