Attorney General Shapiro Alerts Pennsylvanians to Tracking Threat from AirTag Misuse

February 16, 2022 | Topic: Consumers

Warns of bad actors using the Apple product to track an individual’s location

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued a consumer alert today to share safety recommendations with Pennsylvanians that will help protect them from the malicious misuse of Apple AirTags to track their locations and belongings without their knowledge or consent. Individuals have reported finding unknown AirTags attached to their cars, in their purses, coat pockets, and other personal property. Others have reported receiving alerts on their phones that their location information is being shared, even if they have not found an AirTag or other connected accessory on their person.

“It’s vital all Pennsylvanians, especially women and survivors of sexual assault and abuse know about how these devices can be misused and turned into a threat,” said AG Shapiro. “In the wrong hands, these tracking devices could lead to disaster. Pennsylvanians should know what to watch out for and how to protect themselves.”

Consumers should take the following steps to safeguard themselves and their belongings:

  • 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.
  • 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. Check your personal belongings if you received any suspicious notifications of your location being tracked.

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

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