US Attorneys General Sound Alarm On Nationwide Apple AirTag Stalking Threat

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Since their release, we have been covering the privacy and safety concerns surrounding Apple AirTags. AirTags are cheap and easy-to-use tracking devices that make use of Apple’s billion device Find My network. AirTags are intended to be used for keeping track of and recovering personal belongings, but concerns have arisen over their usage for unscrupulous purposes.

By planting an AirTag on your person, baggage, or car without your knowledge, malicious actors can track you, whether to stalk you or steal your car. Apple recently acknowledged “reports of bad actors attempting to misuse AirTag for malicious or criminal purposes,” and announced a number of changes and measures intended to address this misuse.

However, even with Apple’s efforts to quell pernicious use of AirTags, including cooperation with law enforcement, two U.S. state attorneys general have issued public alerts warning of the potential tracking threat presented by Apple AirTags. New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that “Tracking people without their awareness or consent is a serious felony and will not be tolerated by my office.”

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Apple’s Android Tracker Detect app

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro drew particular attention to the potential threat posed to women and survivors of sexual assault and abuse, saying “In the wrong hands, these tracking devices could lead to disaster.” Both attorneys general have issued identical recommended steps for safeguarding yourself and your property against malicious AirTag tracking:
  • Listen for unfamiliar beeping, as AirTags will start emitting a beeping noise when separated from a familiar device for an extended period. If you find an unfamiliar AirTag, Apple provides instructions for disabling AirTags.
  • Watch for “Item Detected Near You” notifications on iPhones, which, when tapped on, will give you the option to play a sound from the nearby AirTag to help in locating it.
  • Install Apple’s Tracker Detect app from the Google Play Store, if you have an Android device. Users should be aware they will have to open the app and use it to manually scan the area for AirTags; the app won’t do it for you in the background. 
  • Know that not all unfamiliar AirTags are malicious and that users can report their AirTags as lost. Apple's Find My notifications will inform users how to return AirTags that have been reported as lost. 
  • Check for updated guidance from Apple.
  • Keep up with iOS updates to receive updated AirTag safety features as Apple rolls them out
The Pennsylvania attorney general added that there are tracking devices beyond Apple AirTags that could pose a similar potential threat, so people should watch for suspicious tracking notifications check their personal belongings for unfamiliar devices. You can read the full New York and Pennsylvania AG alerts for additional details.