Apple AirTags help you keep track of your stuff. Pretty simple. Attach these little devices to something; if you lose or misplace them, you can use the Apple Find My app to locate them. Just listen for the alert when you activate the AirTag.
There’s one major issue, however. Bad actors can use AirTags to track people. In one frightening example, a woman used an AirTag to track and murder her boyfriend. Tap or click here for the full story.
Someone could slip one of these tiny devices into your purse, jacket, laptop bag or car without you even knowing it. Scary thought. Fortunately, you can use your iPhone or Android phone to detect nearby AirTags. We’ll show you how.
How to find hidden trackers with your iPhone
Although Apple didn’t create AirTags as spyware tools, these gadgets can facilitate stalking, harassment and even human trafficking. Not long after the introduction of AirTags, Apple updated Find My to notify iOS users if unknown AirTags were nearby to prevent misuse.
It’s a realistic fear. Look at all the stories of women who learned someone was using an AirTag to track their every move. One woman found an Apple AirTag on the underside of her front wheel after coming out of a bar.
If you get an alert that an AirTag is keeping tabs on you, open the Find My app. Tap the alert, and hit Continue > Play Sound. Listen to the distinctive alert sound. You can play it again if you need more time to find the hidden AirTag.
How to find hidden trackers with your Android phone
When it came to finding unknown AirTags, Android users were out of luck until Apple released an app for Android phones to detect them. Tracker Detect plays a sound if the app detects an AirTag near you for at least 10 minutes.
The app has one major flaw, however — it doesn’t send automatic alerts. You need to run scans manually. Still, it’s better than nothing.
A third-party app may have solved this problem. AirGuard periodically scans your surroundings for trackers such as AirTags or other Find My devices. It notifies you when it finds a tracker nearby and even provides a map to show where you’ve been tracked.
Check the app to see your status: No Risk is highlighted by a green card. This changes to red when you’re at High Risk due to a tracker being detected. We tried out the app and it was able to detect both an AirTag and a Tile. We were able to make the AirTag chime from a Samsung phone.
Maybe you’ve never bought a Bluetooth tracker, so you think you don’t need to worry about them. Not true. Some creep you run into might want to slip a tracker into your bag or car. Criminals use AirTags to steal cars, so you need to be cautious.
Another way to tell if someone is tracking you is to check your pockets and bags when you go out. AirTags are tiny, so people can slip them into hidden crevices without you noticing. Zip up your purses and keep them close by.
You should even look over your car for any hidden Bluetooth trackers under your vehicle or on wheels. Sure, it’s annoying, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Apple makes it even easier for you to find hidden Bluetooth trackers.
A few silver linings
Apple is aware of the many privacy concerns. It’s working on updates that will make it easier for you to find hidden AirTags. Here are a few upcoming updates you should know about:
- Adding privacy warnings when people set up AirTags: When someone sets up their AirTag for the first time, they’re reminded that AirTag is meant to track belongings only. Apple will make it clear that using AirTags to stalk people is a crime in many places.
- Fixing alert issues: You may get a vague alert that says “Unknown Accessory Detected.” Apple is solving this issue, so you know exactly what kind of device is following you.
- An updated support article on unwanted tracking: Apple updated its page on AirTag, AirPods and the entire Find My network. Now you can learn which accessories may trigger a tracking alert, directions on what to do if you get a warning and more. Tap or click here for the new unwanted tracking support article.
- Precision Finding: This feature would help you locate an unknown AirTag so you wouldn’t have to fumble around. Precision Finding uses your smartphone’s complex inner machinery to help you find the tracker with — you guessed it — absolute precision.
Earlier this year, Apple rolled out a firmware update that makes audible alerts even louder. People have previously missed notifications because the alert sound was too quiet. Thanks to Apple’s security update, you’ll be able to hear the alert.
This means you won’t miss a notification that an AirTag is tracking you, so you can act more quickly to protect yourself. Here’s all you need to know about the distinctive sound that lets you know someone’s following you.
What to do if you find an unfamiliar AirTag
Maybe you didn’t hear an alert, but you found an AirTag anyway. You can use an iPhone or Android to see if its owner marked it as lost.
Just hold the top of your iPhone or Android near the white side of the AirTag. Tap it, and you’ll head to a website that tells you the AirTag’s serial number and the last four digits of the owner’s phone number.
Here’s what the page will look like:
You’ll see their contact information if the owner marks the AirTag as lost. Then again, you might not see anything. If you think this AirTag is tracking you or someone else without consent, tap Instructions to disable to turn it off.
Keep this in mind
False alerts are possible. But it’s good to be safe, so you should bookmark this page and share it with anyone who might be concerned about being tracked by creepy strangers.