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New York Attorney General warns New Yorkers of tracking threat from Apple AirTags

Apple AirTags
Posted at 12:28 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 12:28:07-05

NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued a warning to New Yorkers on the tracking threat from Apple AirTags.

Apple AirTags are small, quarter-like disks designed by Apple to attach to items so you can track them when they go missing. The AG has issued a warning due to reports of individuals finding unknown AirTags being used to track people and their belongings.

Locally, the West Seneca Police Department warned of Apple AirTags being hidden on cars in December 2021.

Across the country, Apple AirTags are being misused to track people and their belongings to cause harm. Tracking people without their awareness or consent is a serious felony and will not be tolerated by my office. I urge all New Yorkers to pay close attention to their belongings and follow the tips provided by my office to stay safe. New Yorkers’ safety is my top priority and my office will continue to do everything in its power to protect New Yorkers.
- AG James

Apple announced on February 10 it was taking steps to deter individuals from using AirTags for malicious or criminal purposes.

In the meantime, AG James has issued the following recommendations to protect yourself:

  • 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. AirTags can be stuck in various places including in bags and pockets, under cars, inside of bumpers, and the back of license plates. If you find an unfamiliar AirTag, hold your smartphone up to it to receive information about the AirTag including its serial number. Write down this information, then disable the AirTag by using the instructions on the screen or by removing the AirTag’s battery, and call your local law enforcement for assistance.
  • 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.” Tap this message and it will allow you to play a sound on the AirTag in order to find it. You will also be able to use the app to receive information about the AirTag and disable it. Be sure to write down any information you learn about the AirTag before disabling it and call your local law enforcement for assistance. This Find My feature only works if your device is running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later, so be sure to keep your device’s operating system up to date.
  • 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. Please note that you will have to manually scan the area using the app, it will not scan for devices automatically.
  • 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. If an AirTag has been reported lost, your Find My notification will give you information to allow you to return it.
  • Check for updated guidance. Apple has issued guidance on how to deal with unknown AirTags or Find My alerts. If you come across any issues, check with Apple for updated guidance.
  • Update your Apple device’s operating system. Apple is implementing new safety measures, so make sure you update your Apple device’s operating system regularly.

To report a misused AirTag, you can contact the OAG by filing a complaint with the OAG Internet and Technology Bureau here.