AirTags help people avoid losing things but can be used maliciously. They are sometimes used by stalkers – how to know if an AirTag is following you?
While you are researching Apple AirTags, be sure to check out the full AirTag Category page and bookmark: Do Apple AirTags Work Without WIFI? (The Truth) and Can Apple Airtags Be Used On Multiple Devices?
How Do You Know If An AirTag Is Following You?
The best way to tell if an AirTag is following you is to use an iPhone to detect nearby AirTags. You can enable a system that notifies you whenever an AirTag is nearby. Android Apps also work, but BlueTooth scanners are less effective and sometimes fail to find nearby AirTags.
As a CyberSecurity expert, I expect AirTags to do more good than harm, even though some people will use them to commit crimes.
For example, many people have already tracked down stolen property using AirTags. I have tested each method and recommend the iPhone system over the Android app and the Android app over BlueTooth scanners.
What Are AirTags?
AirTags are a new invention from Apple that lets you track the location of ordinary household objects. They are small metal disks that you can track the location of with Bluetooth technology. Your iPhone will tell you which direction the AirTag is.
You might misplace your remote, or, worse, your wallet. If you have an AirTag on it, you can find it using wireless tracking technology. They do more good than harm, but some people use them illegally.
Are AirTags Useful?
AirTags are very new, but they are popular enough that they seem like they are here to stay. People are willing to buy small, simple, and inexpensive tracking devices. They aren’t likely to disappear in a few years.
AirTags allow your phone to tell you where something is. Your phone will give you instructions, such as “five feet to your left,” that make it easy to find a missing object.
How Far Can An Airtag Track Something?
Normally, AirTags have a short range – only 33 feet. Some of the alternatives to AirTags have much longer ranges. However, if an AirTag is near a reasonably new Apple device, you can detect it from anywhere.
For example, let’s say your coat was stolen, and you put an AirTag in it. Your coat might be miles away. However, let’s assume the AirTag is near an Apple device in the thief’s house.
In that case, you will be able to find its location. The location will be uploaded to the FindMy network, which the owner of the AirTag can access.
Since there are hundreds of millions of Apple devices out there, you have a good chance of finding the location.
Why Are AirTags Dangerous?
People can abuse the technology to track other people’s locations for malicious reasons. Someone might sneak an AirTag into someone’s back pocket or into their car. They can then track their location without the victim even knowing they are being tracked.
AirTags are small enough that they are easy to hide. A stalker or some other criminal can easily hide an AirTag in someone’s property and track them wherever they go.
Apple strongly disapproves of using AirTags to track people, and anyone who does this can be charged with a crime. However, someone may still choose to use AirTags illegally.
Do Stalkers Use AirTags to Track People?
There have not been a lot of cases so far, but it does happen. In Connecticut, a man was arrested for putting an AirTag in someone’s car.
Model Brooks Nader was tracked by an AirTag hidden in her coat. Hopefully, these crimes will not become common in the future.
How Can You Tell if an AirTag is Tracking You?
First off, don’t be paranoid – there have not been many cases of people using AirTags to track people yet. It is not a common crime and it might never become common.
There are thousands of things more worrying than someone tracking you with an AirTag. If you have a reason to suspect that someone is tracking you with an AirTag, or you just want to make sure, there are ways to detect AirTags.
Detecting AirTags With An Android Phone
If you have an Android phone, you can install a tracker detect app that lets you search for nearby trackers. Whenever you run the app (it won’t search for trackers continuously) your phone will search for and detect nearby trackers.
Detecting AirTags With An iPhone
It is easier to detect AirTags with an iPhone than with an Android. You should automatically receive a notification when an unknown AirTag is nearby. You must have an up-to-date operating system (iOS 14.5 is new enough) to receive these notifications.
You can also make the AirTag play a sound so that you can find it. If you tap the alert you receive, you may see an option to play a sound.
Do You Have to Enable These Notifications?
You can enable and disable searching for AirTags. You should check and make sure it is enabled. To enable AirTag detection:
- Open the Find My App
- Tap the Me tab (bottom right)
- Move Item Safety Alerts to the Right and Make Sure it Turns Green. Item Safety Alerts is under notifications.
Why is it Easier to Detect AirTags With an iPhone?
Ideally, there would be an App that let Android phones scan for AirTags all the time the way iPhones do. However, an Android phone won’t find an AirTag unless you run the app.
This means that an Android user can be stalked easily unless they suspect they are being tracked, which they probably won’t. According to Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this would require the two rival companies to work together.
Detecting AirTags With BlueTooth Scanners
BlueTooth scanners are not the best way to search for AirTags. A BlueTooth scanner might fail to pick up a nearby AirTag. While scanners often work, they have a good chance of failing.
Finding AirTags Without Technology
AirTags are difficult to find without technology. If you don’t want a smartphone but are worried about AirTags, you might borrow one to search for them.
Without technology, you will have to find AirTags just by looking around. This isn’t easy unless the stalker put the AirTag somewhere obvious.
For example, there was one case of an AirTag stuck under a license plate. Even someone who suspects they are being tracked might not look there, and a victim might not even consider that they are being tracked.
AirTags Are Small
AirTags are hardly bigger than quarters. The small size can be convenient, but it makes it easier to use them illegally. Someone can hide a tag somewhere a person will never check or won’t check for years.
Don’t AirTags Make a Beeping Sound?
Normally, an AirTag will start beeping periodically if it is away from its owner for more than a few hours. It used to take three days, then it was shortened to 24 hours, and now it only takes a few hours for an AirTag to start beeping.
However, it is not difficult to make an AirTag stop beeping, and you can do it without skills or equipment. Someone only has to watch a YouTube video to find out how to disable the beeping.
Talk to the Police
A person who is tracking your location could be dangerous. If you find an AirTag, or are otherwise sure you are being stalked, get the police involved. Don’t underreact to something as serious as someone using AirTags to spy on you and track your location.
- An iPhone can search for AirTags continuously without you having to do anything. You may have to change one setting to enable this.
- With an Android phone, you have to download an app and run it to search for AirTags. It will only search for AirTags when you run the app, and not continuously.
- You can also use BlueTooth scanners to search for AirTags but this is less effective.
- Looking for AirTags with the naked eye is not very effective.
- If it is obvious you are being tracked, talk to the police.