AG: Convenient AirTag Also Creates Potential Threat

HARRISBURG PA – The $29 Apple AirTag was hailed Tuesday (March 8, 2022) in a CNN report, proclaiming it as “the ultimate travel companion” during spring break and other upcoming vacation periods. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro doesn’t necessarily disagree, but he continues to warn state residents that “bad actors (are) using the product to track an individual’s location.”

AirTags are remote sensors that can be located and tracked by GPS satellites, and which issue notifications of their whereabouts that show on mobile phones and similar tracking-capable devices. During recent months individuals have reported discovering AirTags attached to their cars, in purses, coat pockets, and other personal property.

They’ve been found so far in Collegeville, Lancaster, Levittown, and Lower Saucon, and the list is growing.

Shapiro issued a consumer alert that shares safety recommendations to help protect the public from malicious misuse of AirTags to track their locations and belongings without their knowledge or consent. “In the wrong hands, these tracking devices could lead to disaster. Pennsylvanians should know what to watch out for and how to protect themselves,” he said. His suggestions:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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”.
  • 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.
  • Check for updated guidance. Apple has issued guidance on how to deal with unknown AirTags or Find My alerts.
  • Know that it’s not just Apple AirTags that can be misused in this way. Tile, GPS Trackers, and similar products could potentially pose a similar risk.

Consumers who believe they may have found a misused Apple AirTag in their belongings should contact local law enforcement, Shapiro recommended.

Photo by Daniel Romero via Unsplash, used under license