Prevent Apple AirTag Stalking or Spying.
Apple’s AirTags are not only tiny, inexpensive, and durable, but they’re also incredibly effective at keeping track of personal items thanks to Find My’s extensive network. But, unfortunately, it is not difficult to use them.
While Apple has made it clear that AirTags should not be used as a spy tool, stories of stalkers and criminals using the iconic people-tracking devices keep popping up in news outlets.
If you have privacy concerns related to AirTags stalking or snooping, there are a number of countermeasures you can use to help prevent this. They are not perfect, but useful nonetheless.
Keep an Eye Out for a Notification on iPhone
Are you using an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS/iPadOS 14.5 or later? If so, the Find My app will automatically alert you to unknown AirTags trying to track you. It works like this.
When Find My detects that an AirTag is out of Bluetooth range of its owner moving with you, an “AirTag Found Moving With You” notification will appear on the lock screen. Tap it to open a map with the location data of places where AirTag has tracked you.
If the AirTag belongs to a borrowed item (such as a car key), simply click Suspend Security Alerts. If not, click “Play Sound” to find the AirTag prompting it to play a sound. Watch this video from Apple to see how AirTags sound.
If you find the AirTag, tap the “Learn about this AirTag” option and hold the AirTag close to your Apple device. The page from Apple’s website will display its serial number and the last four digits of the owner’s phone number. If the AirTag belongs to someone you know, this might help you identify them.
Take a screenshot of the About This AirTag page for later.
Then you must disable AirTag so that the owner cannot see its location. To do this, press the side with the Apple logo, turn the AirTag counterclockwise to remove the cover, and remove the coin-cell battery inside. If you need help, click “Instructions” to turn it off.
After that, contact your local law enforcement agencies and provide a screenshot. Since stalking or espionage is against the law in most countries and regions, Apple will help them find the intruder.
However, despite receiving an unknown AirTag notification, you may not always be able to play audio on it due to various built-in privacy features. For example, the AirTag’s Bluetooth ID may have changed if it has been with you for several hours, or the owner may have been within Bluetooth range.
In this case, carefully check your belongings and potential hiding places on your clothes and car. If you cannot find the AirTag, go to a public place immediately and call the emergency services.
Note. Using them is not difficult, but it is important to know how AirTags work.
Use the Tracker Detect App on Android
If you are an Android user, Apple provides an app called Tracker Detect to protect yourself from unwanted tracking with AirTags. This requires a smartphone with Android 9 or later and can be downloaded from the Google Play store. Once installed, open the app and click the “Scan” button to find the nearest AirTags.
If Tracker Detect detects an AirTag in close proximity that is separate from its owner, click Unknown AirTag and wait 10 minutes. You can then click “Play Sound” to find the AirTag.
If you find an AirTag, click “Inquire about this item tracker” to view its serial number and the last four digits of the owner’s phone number. Take a screenshot and click “Disable Instructions” to learn how to disable AirTag. If you do not feel safe, contact local law enforcement.
However, unlike the Find My app on iPhone and iPad, Tracker Detect does not have the ability to scan AirTags on its own. Also, it will not detect AirTags if they are within range of the owner’s Bluetooth.
Apart from Tracker Detect, the Google Play Store is also filled with third-party Bluetooth device detectors. For example, apps like Find My Bluetooth Device, Bluetooth Scanner, and LightBlue not only allow you to scan for unknown Bluetooth devices, but also provide signal strength meters that you can use to detect them.
Listen for a Sound From the AirTag
By design, the AirTag will automatically beep if it is not within its owner’s Bluetooth range for an extended period of time. This usually happens somewhere between eight to ten hours.
If you hear an AirTag beep, locate it by immediately checking your belongings and surroundings. Or check the notification on your iPhone, which can be used to repeat the sound, or the Tracker Detect app (or a third-party Bluetooth scanner) on Android to look for an unknown tracking device.
If you find an AirTag, hold it up to your iPhone or Android to view its serial number and the last four digits of the owner’s phone number. If it’s not marked as lost, take a screenshot, disable AirTag, and contact your local law enforcement.
Stay Up-to-Date on Newer Anti-Tracking Measures
Apple’s countermeasures leave a lot to be desired. For example, iPhone and iPad take too long to notify you about an unknown AirTag. Also, the Tracker Detect app for Android phones is basic and doesn’t have features to automatically scan your surroundings.
To make matters worse, AirTags ring for hours, not to mention the wearer can continue to stay within Bluetooth range to prevent countermeasures from triggering. This means you can be tracked for hours (or even days) before you’re even up to date.
Fortunately, Apple is listening to feedback. AirTags will sound louder earlier in future updates; the Find My app will detect “silent” AirTags (devices with a disabled speaker); Apple users with iPhone 11 and later can find unknown AirTags using Precision Finding and more.
So keep your iPhone and iPad up to date to get the latest tracking protection features. If you have the Tracker Detect app for Android, please update it periodically with new features, improvements, and bug fixes.
What’s more, AirTags, being a popular Apple product, showed how alternative Bluetooth trackers like Tile and Chipolo can also be used for nefarious purposes. This is good for developing more effective anti-espionage measures.
Prevent Apple AirTag Stalking or Spying
Prevent Apple AirTag Stalking or Spying