What you need to know
- New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued a consumer alert concerning AirTags.
- The alert reminds those who would misuse AirTag is a felony.
- The statement also provides tips on how to stay safe from unwanted tracking.
AirTag stalking has become such an issue that New York's Attorney General is now getting involved.
In a statement released today, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a consumer alert that touches on the issue of AirTag misuse. In the statement, James says that New Yorkers have found "unknown AirTags attached to their cars, and in their purses, coat pockets, and other personal property."
James reiterated that "tracking people without their awareness or consent is a serious felony."
James' office is recommending the following tips to stay safe in the age of item tracker misuse:
- Listen for unfamiliar beeping. When an AirTag is separated from a familiar device for some time, the AirTag will start to make a beeping noise. If you hear this beeping noise, try to locate its source. AirTags can be stuck in various places including in bags and pockets, under cars, inside of bumpers, and the back of license plates. If you find an unfamiliar AirTag, hold your smartphone up to it to receive information about the AirTag including its serial number. Write down this information, then disable the AirTag by using the instructions on the screen or by removing the AirTag's battery, and call your local law enforcement for assistance.
- Watch for "Item Detected Near You" notifications on iPhones. If your iPhone has been close to an unfamiliar AirTag or other accessory for a prolonged period of time, you may receive a notification on the Find My application stating, "Item Detected Near You." Tap this message and it will allow you to play a sound on the AirTag in order to find it. You will also be able to use the app to receive information about the AirTag and disable it. Be sure to write down any information you learn about the AirTag before disabling it and call your local law enforcement for assistance. This Find My feature only works if your device is running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later, so be sure to keep your device's operating system up to date.
- If you have an Android device, download Tracker Detect from the Google Play Store. If you hear unfamiliar beeping, you can use Tracker Detect on your Android device to find any unfamiliar AirTags within your Bluetooth range. Please note that you will have to manually scan the area using the app, it will not scan for devices automatically.
- Know that not all unfamiliar AirTags are malicious. While it is important to be careful, AirTags are sometimes legitimately lost by their users, and your device will alert you regardless. If an AirTag has been reported lost, your Find My notification will give you information to allow you to return it.
- Check for updated guidance. Apple has issued guidance on how to deal with unknown AirTags or Find My alerts. If you come across any issues, check with Apple for updated guidance.
- Update your Apple device's operating system. Apple is implementing new safety measures, so make sure you update your Apple device's operating system regularly.
AirTag misuse has been a growing issue as some people have used them to try and track people and items without permission. Apple recently addressed the issue and promised some additional features to help deter the problem.
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Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.
It is unfortunate that the guidance/suggestions imply that AirTags are the only such products out there. It is also a disservice to not point out that none of the others provide any better options, and generally are worse.
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