How to know if you’re being stalked with an AirTag

Apple AirTags are undoubtedly a nifty product: quarter-size Bluetooth tracking devices that you can stick on an iPhone or keychain. But like so many tech innovations, there’s that pesky human element to contend with — namely, that AirTags can be used by a stalker to find out where you live, work, and go. In both cases, there have been several recent cases the USA and the United Kingdom of people claim they were unknowingly being tracked by AirTags.

Here’s how to find out if you’re being tracked with an AirTag or similar device — and what to do if you’re being tracked.

Check your iPhone

Often the first clue that you are being stalked is through your iPhone. If you’re using iOS 14.5 or later, your iPhone will continuously listen for nearby AirTags. It’s one of the reasons AirTags work so well: this information is sent to Apple’s servers to help recover a lost item.

But if someone puts an AirTag in your pocket without your knowledge, your iPhone will notice. If this AirTag gets stuck while moving, your iPhone will display an alert that says “AirTag Found Moving With You.” Clicking on the alert will show you where it was detected and where it has moved with you.

Unfortunately, the location where the AirTag was detected is usually not the same as where it was originally hidden, as it takes a few hours for your iPhone to realize that an AirTag is stuck to you when you move around.

Check with an Android phone

If you have an Android phone, you can use that to check if there’s an AirTag near you Apple TrackerDetect app. This app should run on most Android devices and scans the area for nearby AirTags. However, this only works if the app is running and actively scanning, and you won’t get notifications if an AirTag is hidden near you.

Read  How to Correctly Classify Your Data in 2022

If you’re worried about being tracked, an app will pop up AirGuard does a lot of what iPhones do, but on your Android phone: it runs in the background, scanning for AirTags (and tile tracker) and then notify you when one is detected multiple times. The open source app is written by a security lab at a German university.

Listen for the beep

Apple updated AirTags last year to beep at random intervals between 8 and 24 hours after walking away from their linked iPhone. This beep is quite insistent, more like a smoke detector battery. So if you hear a beep like this, it’s time to start looking.

Unfortunately, it’s also fairly easy for someone to remove the speaker from an AirTag. These muted AirTags are also available on eBay and other places. So if you are worried, run a scan with your iPhone or Android phone.

Find and disable the tracker

AirTags and similar devices are small enough to slip into a pocket or purse unnoticed. So it’s a good idea to check all the pockets of your clothes, your purse, and the linings of coats and jackets for the coin-sized device.

If you have an iPhone, one option when you get a notification of an AirTag moving with you is to ping it using the built-in beep feature to make it easier to find. Just follow the sound until you find it.

The AirTag may be attached to your car if you receive an alert while driving. Look around the wheel wells, behind the bumpers, and under the car. Look for something out of place: the AirTag may be in a holder to protect it, e.g ElevationLab TagVault. If you think someone had access to the interior of the car, check under the seats, in the gaps between the seat cushions, and under the floor mats.

Read  How to reinvent yourself in retirement

That Precision finding function on iPhones can also be very helpful here as it tells you how far away and in which direction the AirTag is. Select it in the FindMy app and move the phone to help it locate the AirTag.

Now what should you do if you find a hidden AirTag? It may have accidentally ended up in your pocket when attached to a keychain or similar. If it is alone and hidden in your car or clothing, it may have been placed there by someone with ill intentions.

AirTags are designed to display a web page with the owner’s details by tapping them against your iPhone. I don’t recommend this if you’re worried about how it got there. While unlikely, hackers have shown it to be so possible to change the web address to which the AirTag is sent, which could be used to install spyware. This is not a trivial hack, but it is possible.

Instead, you should disable the device. And the best way to do this is to remove the battery.

Put on a pair of latex gloves if you have them, then take the AirTag and hold it with the steel cover with the Apple logo facing you. Use your fingers to rotate this cover counterclockwise until it clicks into place, and then lift your fingers. The steel cover pops off and the battery, a silver cylinder the size of a dime, is directly underneath. Remove the battery and the AirTag is disabled.

Without the battery, the AirTag cannot track you and will not send any other information to third parties. It will not warn anyone that it has been disabled; it just stops sending a signal.

Save the tag and battery, then call the police. If you are concerned for your safety, call 911 and go to a safe place.

Read  How to Back Up and Restore Your Pinned Taskbar Items on Windows

Using an AirTag to track someone without their consent is a crimeand the police may be able to trace the person who used the serial number tag by getting the owner information from Apple or by fingerprints on the tag or battery (which is why I suggested gloves above).

Is Apple to blame?

Apple advertises the AirTag as “a super easy way to keep track of your stuff. . . The Find My network – hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPad and Mac devices around the world – will help track down your AirTag.“The AirTag works because it sends an identifying signal to Apple’s server over this network when it approaches an iPhone. This is how you can find a set of lost keys with an AirTag even when it’s not around, and how people have used an AirTag to track emails they were sent to Elon Musk, Tim Cook and North Korea. (Spoilers: the one from North Korea didn’t make it.)

Unfortunately, that also makes it ideal for a stalker: the network has no idea what the AirTag is being used for, and many people have an iPhone relaying that signal.

However, Apple is aware of the problem and has made it happen Changes to how AirTags work to make them less susceptible to unwanted tracking. Now they will beep when they move away from their owner, and an iPhone will notify you if it sees an unfamiliar AirTag around you for several hours. They also store the information stored when you set up an AirTag to make it easier for police to find the original owner.

We all have the right to live safely and peacefully, and technology can make that easier. Unfortunately, it can also make it easier for someone who is struggling power and control to stalk someone, or for a stranger jeopardize your safety. There is persons who can Helpthough, and technology can be used Help and protect you also. It’s not the technology that’s to blame, it’s the people who misuse it.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button