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Security & privacy

Worried about stalkers and thieves using AirTags? Apple is making these changes

GPS trackers are designed to help you find your missing things. They’re great for keeping track of your keys, laptop, purse, luggage, remote control and pretty much anything you can think of.

Unfortunately, these little devices can be used to commit crimes. Crooks are hiding AirTags on cars to track them to the owner’s home and steal the automobile later. Tap or click here for our report and tips on avoiding falling victim to this scheme.

Even more scary are reports that AirTags are being used to stalk people. It’s gotten to the point where some advocacy groups demand that Apple stop selling them. Keep reading to see what Apple is doing to try and end the problems.

More security updates for AirTags

Apple has addressed the AirTags security issues from time to time. Missing AirTags beep to alert their owner when they have been separated for too long. The problem was that the owner could be a crook who purposely left the AirTag on someone else’s person.

Last year, Apple changed the time it would take to beep from three days to between 8 and 24 hours.

This week, Apple announced changes to make AirTags more secure. This includes updated documentation, alerts and more accurate location tools:

  • With the update, every user setting up their AirTag for the first time will see a message stating that AirTags are made for tracking belongings, not people. It will remind users that tracking people is a crime and that law enforcement can request information identifying AirTag owners.
  • Users have reported that they’ve received “Unknown Accessory Detected” alerts, which can apply to AirPods or a third-party Find My network device. Apple confirmed that this alert will not apply to AirTags found near you. The update will change the alert to indicate that AirPods have been traveling with you, rather than an “Unknown Accessory.”
  • Apple updated its unwanted tracking support article to better convey the safety features built into AirTags, AirPods and Find My network accessories. There is more information regarding unwanted tracking alerts and updated information on what to do if you receive the alert. There are links to resources for people who feel their safety is at risk as well as for victims.
  • Precision Finding will make it easier for you to locate an AirTag if you get an unwanted tracking alert. iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 users will be able to use Precision Finding to see the distance and direction to an unknown AirTag when it is in range. As you move, the feature uses your phone’s camera, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope to help you find the AirTag.
  • When an AirTag that has been moving with you emits a sound to alert you of its presence, you will also get an alert on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with prompts to take action such as playing a sound or using Precision Finding.
  • The tracking alert system will be updated to notify users earlier that an unknown AirTag or Find My network accessory has been moving around with them.
  • The audible alert that unknown AirTags emit will be adjusted to be louder.

How to detect unwanted AirTags for now

If your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later, it can automatically scan for nearby AirTags. You’ll get a notification that reads “AirTag Found Moving With You.” If you get this alert, here’s what to do:

  • Tap the message, then tap Continue.
  • Tap Play Sound if you need help finding the AirTag.
  • If you don’t know where the AirTag came from, tap Learn About This AirTag to see its serial number and whether or not it’s marked as lost.
  • If you find the AirTag on your vehicle or other property, you can tap Instructions to Disable AirTag and follow the onscreen steps to stop sharing your location.

Android users are unfortunately at a disadvantage. In December 2021, Apple released an app on the Google Play Store that lets Android phones locate trackers compatible with Apple’s Find My network. Tracker Detect works with Android 9.0 and up and within Bluetooth range.

The issue is that the app’s tracking feature won’t work automatically, as it does with iOS devices. Android users have to open the app and tap Scan manually. If the app detects an AirTag or Find My network accessory nearby, you can play a sound to help locate it.

Keep reading

Stalkers are using AirTags — Here’s how to protect yourself

Watch out for these modified AirTags that won’t alert you if someone is tracking you

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