How to protect yourself from unwanted tracking by AirTag

Posted at 2:38 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 17:07:26-05

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Apple's AirTags, a device meant to track belongings, are showing up in reports to law enforcement across the country and here in the Treasure Valley.

The device was released in April and is meant to keep track of belongings like keys or a backpack, but some are finding AirTags that don't belong to them under their car or elsewhere, assuming the device is being used to track them, including one victim in Meridian.

"In that case, the person was able to get a notification on their phone and immediately disable the tracker and call her local police department. So it worked how it should," Brett Bateman, a Corporal Over Investigations for the Meridian Police Department said.

He said they couldn't confirm in this case the AirTag was being used for unwanted tracking.

Here's how AirTags work: the small circular device is sold by itself, but consumers can purchase accessories to attach it to keys or a backpack.

"It uses the devices that you have to broadcast out its location to apple in case the user--or in case you as a person using the tag loses it," Ed Vasko, the Director of the Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity at Boise State University said. "The unfortunate side, of course, is that when you have good use of technology there is always a way potentially to leverage that technology for bad."

While there aren't many cases of people finding AirTags being used for unwanted tracking, police said there are still a few things to be aware of.

First, if an AirTag that doesn't belong to you seems to be moving with you, you'll get a notification.

AirTag Notification.jpg

"When it alerts you, you can disable that tracking and you can also have it make a sound, making locating the sound a little easier," Bateman said. "On an android device, the same thing can be done if you just download the tracker detect app."

He said if you get a notification like this, these are the steps you should take,"Deactivate it so it can no longer track you, and then just don't manipulate it, don't touch it because we can obtain fingerprints off of that as well as digital data. Serial numbers, things like that."

Vasko said there are also preventative steps you can take.

"You can disable on your iPhone the "Find my" network. You can actually disable so that you won't necessarily be tracked by this AirTag," he said.