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How Do AirTags Work?
AirTags are Bluetooth tracking devices that can be recognized by other Apple devices in the Find My network, such as iPhones. The iPhone then sends information about the location of the AirTag to iCloud, and a map showing its location can be viewed in the Find My app.
To help you find it, you can also instruct it to play a sound. If you have an iPhone 11 or a later model, you can also use Precision Finding, which directs you to the AirTag using a compass-style interface.
How Can AirTags Be Used to Spy on You?
If someone has planted an AirTag on you—for example, in your bag or coat pocket—they will be able to track your location using Find My.
You may think it’s unlikely that this could happen to you, but there are numerous cases of AirTags being used to track people without their consent. For example, British reality TV star, Montana Brown, recently found an AirTag in her handbag after receiving a notification on her iPhone alerting her to its presence.
Other cases involve AirTags being planted in people’s cars, either by someone known to the victim, or by criminals who later use the location information to help them steal the car.
“AirTag Found Moving With You” Notification
In response to reports of some people using AirTags to track people without their consent, Apple introduced additional safety features to alert people if an unknown AirTag is moving with them.
If Apple detects that an AirTag is moving with you and is not near its owner, you will receive a notification on your iPhone that reads “AirTag Found Moving With You.”
AirTags that are separated from their owner for too long and are found to be moving with someone else will also play a sound each time they move. This helps the person being tracked to quickly locate the AirTag.
“Unknown Accessory Detected Near You” Notification
This message is similar to the “AirTag Found Moving With You” notification, except that it is not specific to AirTags. This notification appears if your iPhone detects an item moving with you that is within its Bluetooth range and compatible with the Find My network—for example, AirPods.
Like AirTags, most AirPods or other Apple devices are able to play a sound to help you locate them. This can be activated from within the Find My app.
What to Do If You Receive One of the Above Notifications
If you get one of these alerts on your iPhone, the first thing you should do is try to locate the item. For AirTags and most other Apple accessories (like AirPods), you will be able to tap on the notification and choose “Play Sound.” This should help you to find it easily.
If you recognize the device
In some cases, the reason for the notification could be innocent. For example, if you get into your car and your partner has left their AirPods in it, this could trigger an alert. If this is the case, tap the option to disable “AirTag Detected” notifications for a set period of time.
You can also choose to permanently disable this feature for the accessory in question, so that you don’t receive unwanted tracking alerts.
Go to Find My > Me > Toggle off Item Safety Alerts > Tap Disable
If you don’t recognize the device
If you find an AirTag or similar device that seems to be tracking you without your consent, there are steps you can take to disable it.
Hold the white side of the AirTag next to the top of your iPhone. A notification will appear, providing you with its serial number and the last four digits of its owner’s phone number. It’s a good idea to take a screenshot of this information in case you need it later on.
Tap “Instructions to Disable” for guidance on how to remove the AirTag’s battery and stop it from tracking you.
If you’re worried about your safety, stay in a public place and contact the police. They will investigate, and Apple may work with them to get more information about the tracking device used.
AirTags Aren’t the Only Way You Can Be Tracked
As unsettling as it is, AirTags are not the only way someone can monitor your activity. Spyware can also present a threat to your privacy, and it can be installed on your device by anyone who has access to it for just a couple of minutes.
Hidden spy apps can be installed on your phone without your knowledge, and used to send information such as your location, call history, photos, text messages, and more to the hacker. Once a third party has this information, they could use it to follow you, blackmail you, or even commit fraud.
How to Protect Your Privacy
Luckily there are a number of ways to protect yourself against unwanted tracking. Follow our tips below to safeguard yourself from hackers.
Make sure you have the right settings enabled
To receive notifications about unwanted tracking devices moving with you, you’ll need to make sure you have turned on all the relevant settings. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services and turn Location Services on.
- Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services and turn Find My iPhone on.
- In Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services, enable Significant Locations to be notified when you arrive at certain locations, such as your home or workplace.
- In Settings > Bluetooth, be sure Bluetooth is turned on.
- Open the Find My app, tap the Me tab, tap Customize Tracking Notifications and ensure notifications are allowed.
Note that Find My can only send alerts about unknown items moving with you if you are running iOS 14.5 or later.
Install Certo AntiSpy
The best way to protect yourself against unwanted tracking via spyware is by installing Certo AntiSpy for iPhone. This award-winning technology will scan your iPhone for spyware and other threats to your security. If any malicious software is found, you’ll be provided with clear instructions on how to remove it.
- Download Certo AntiSpy to your computer.
- Connect your iPhone via USB.
- Click Scan.
- Once complete, click Remove next to any threats detected.
Update your iOS regularly
Hackers often exploit vulnerabilities in older versions of iOS to gain access to devices without the owner’s consent. By keeping your operating system updated with the latest releases from Apple, you can make your phone less vulnerable to attack.
Updating your iOS can also help to ensure that apps like Find My are optimized with all the latest security features, such as the ability to detect an unknown AirTag and play a sound to help you locate it.
Increasingly sophisticated technology means there are more ways for people to track your location and monitor your activity. AirTags, while useful for locating misplaced items, can be used for unauthorized tracking, leading to privacy invasion and potential danger.
To address this, Apple has implemented safety features, such as “AirTag Found Moving With You” and “Unknown Accessory Detected Near You” notifications, to alert users of potential tracking.If you receive such notifications, it’s important to locate the device and disable it if you don’t recognize it.
However, it’s crucial to remember that AirTags aren’t the only way to be tracked; spyware can also compromise your privacy. To protect yourself, ensure your settings are configured properly, install Certo AntiSpy, and keep your iOS updated.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Android detect a hidden AirTag?
Unlike iPhones, an Android phone will not automatically alert you when an AirTag is nearby or moving with you. However, in response to privacy concerns, Apple released an AirTag scanner app for Android devices allowing users to manually scan their surroundings for nearby AirTags. The app can be downloaded from the Play Store here.
How long does an AirTag battery last?
An AirTag’s battery typically lasts around one year with normal use. The device uses a replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery. Battery life may vary depending on usage and environmental factors.
How can I disable an AirTag tracking me?
If you’ve found an AirTag tracking your location, the easiest way to disable tracking is by removing the battery. Press down on the polished stainless steel battery cover of the AirTag and rotate anticlockwise until the cover stops rotating. Remove the cover and battery.
Can someone track me with an AirTag?
Yes, it is possible for someone to track you using an Apple AirTag, but there are several safeguards in place to prevent unauthorized tracking. These include unwanted tracking alerts on your iPhone and audible alerts from the AirTag itself. While these features make it more difficult for someone to track you using an AirTag without your knowledge, it is still important to be aware of the risks and remain vigilant about your personal privacy and security.