Apple AirTag stalking and tracking by criminals is a problem: here’s how to stop it

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Apple AirTag turns out to be a boon for criminals. That’s why and some ways to combat unwanted tracking.

The button-sized AirTag, announced last April, is a Bluetooth tracking device designed to help you find keys, backpacks, wallets, devices, or any personal item you want to track. It keeps track of things using Apple’s Find My crowdsourcing network, which, as of 2021, has about 1 billion devices worldwide. This requires iOS 14.5 and iPad iOS 14.5 or later.

AirTags helps you find your lost item by showing you a location map or by playing a sound. If you have an iPhone 11 or newer, you can find the AirTag using Precision Finding, which will take you straight to your AirTag.

that’s the problem

AirTags are good for what they are designed for. The problem is in stalkers and thieves figured it out quickly too much. And now a growing chorus of voices is claiming that Apple underestimated the dangers of the device.

Apple AirTags discussion by Washington Post reporter Jeff Fowler in San Francisco, California on Monday, March 14, 2022

Apple AirTags discussion by Washington Post reporter Jeff Fowler in San Francisco, California on Monday, March 14, 2022
(Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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Reports show that AirTags are increasingly being used for stalking. For example, an investigation by Vice found that out of 150 police reports that mentioned AirTags from eight police stations over an 8-month period, there were 50 cases where women contacted the police because they received notifications that they were being tracked by AirTag on them. did not have.

“Of those, 25 were able to identify a man in their lives — ex-partners, husbands, bosses — who they strongly suspect put AirTags on their cars to stalk and harass them,” Weiss said.

Another post earlier this year showed how a stalker surreptitiously placed an AirTag in the supermodel’s coat, tracking her for five hours as she walked from bar to bar and then as she walked home.

And this a recent law enforcement video explains how criminals attach AirTags to vehicles, track the vehicles to the owner’s home, and then steal the car at the criminal’s convenience.

How to stop unwanted tracking

A boxed AirTag on display at the George Street Apple Store on April 30, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.  Apple's latest accessory, the AirTag, is a small device that helps people track things by using Apple's Find My network to find lost items like keys, a wallet, or a bag.

A boxed AirTag on display at the George Street Apple Store on April 30, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Apple’s latest accessory, the AirTag, is a small device that helps people track things by using Apple’s Find My network to find lost items like keys, a wallet, or a bag.
(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

Apple’s notification system, which alerts you to unknown devices, can be confusing because it’s designed to detect multiple devices.

The confusion comes when you’re trying to figure out if a device is unwanted – and potentially dangerous – or just a harmless unknown device.

But assuming the worst, in the event of an unwanted AirTag, a pop-up notification should appear on your iPhone within a few hours saying “AirTag Found Moving With You,” as Apple explains on the unwanted tracking support page. “Find Me” displays a map of where AirTag has been observed with you.

Also, an unwanted AirTag placed on an item should beep when the item is moved.

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In its February AirTags and Unwanted Tracking update, Apple also said it will add Precision Finding, which allows unwanted tracking alert recipients to find unknown AirTag with greater accuracy if you have an iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13.

Apple has also released an app on Google Play called Tracker Detect for android users.

There are also third-party apps available that allow you to find nearby Bluetooth devices. (See MacWorld: How to find, block, and disable an unknown AirTag that travels with you.)

An Apple AirTag device during the Spring Loaded virtual product launch in Tiskilva, Illinois, USA on Tuesday, April 20, 2021

An Apple AirTag device during the Spring Loaded virtual product launch in Tiskilva, Illinois, USA on Tuesday, April 20, 2021
(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Finally, if you find an unwanted AirTag, you can turn it off completely by removing the battery cover. This is done by turning the back of the tracker counterclockwise and then removing the battery.

Apple says AirTags have been designed to help people find your personal belongings – do not track people or other people’s property.

Apple said in a February statement that “we … have seen reports of malicious attempts to misuse AirTag for malicious or criminal purposes. Apple is working closely with various security groups and law enforcement.”

Fox News has reached out to Apple for comment.