Apple AirTags: What are they, how do they locate lost items, are they dangerous, are they being used to track people and what to do if you find an unwanted tracker

APPLE AirTags are designed to be attached to precious items in case they get lost – but does this encourage unwanted tracking?

Thursday, 20th January 2022, 5:54 pm

The tech giants unveiled its long-awaited product back in April 2021.

The small circular tracking tags are great if you are always losing your keys, phones or wallets as they send out a Bluetooth signal that can be detected on nearby devices.

AirTags are priced at £29 for a single tag or £99 for a pack of four.

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AirTags are designed to keep track of precious items.

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But are these tracking devices safe to use and are they being used to track people?

Here is everything you need to know:

How to locate lost items

If an AirTag user loses one of their belongings that has the device attached, they can simply locate the item using their mobile.

Apple states: 'If a user misplaces their item and it is within Bluetooth range, they can use the 'Find My iPhone App' to play a sound from their AirTag to help locate the item.'

Are AirTags dangerous?

Although the design behind the AirTags is simply to find lost possessions, critics have argued that the tracker could easily be used to monitor someone's location.

If an iPhone detects that another AirTag is following the owner, the phone will display an alert.

The tags are also designed to beep if they are away from the owner's phone for three days whereas those with Android devices initially did not receive a warning.

Apple released a software update for the tags back in June 2021, where the AirTag will now beep if they are away from their owner's phone.

The beep will go off at a random time between eight and 24 hours to alert those nearby.

The update was automatic on the tags if they were close to the owner's iPhone.

Apple has since introduced an Android app that will enable users to detect an AirTag called ‘Tracker Detect’.

Are the tags being used to track people?

There have been many reports since the tags came out that they have been used to track people.

The New York Times reported back in December that one victim received the tracking notification on her phone, even though she did not own a tag.

Ashley Estrada said: 'I felt so violated. I just felt like, who’s tracking me? What was their intent with me? It was scary.’

Sadly, Ms. Estrada is not the only victim to come forward with a story on unwanted tracking.

Many have taken to the likes of Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit to share their experiences and concerns are growing that the tags are being used for stalking.

How to disable an unwanted AirTag

Due to the reports of stalking via the AirTag, Apple has since released further information on their support website on what to do if you receive an 'Item Detected Near You' message.

The website states that if you receive the message:

-Open the notification and press continue, if you need to find the AirTag select 'Press Sound'

-To disable the tag and stop sharing your location, tap ‘Instructions to Disable’ and follow the steps on the screen.

If you feel that your safety is at risk, contact the police and you may need to provide the AirTag or the device's serial number.

If you find an AirTag as it is making a sound, you can use any device that has an NFC (such as an iPhone or Android device) to see if its owner has marked it as lost.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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