RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Apple has a small tracking device that can help you find your belongings, like keys or a wallet. Experts say, however, the Apple AirTag could also be used to track people.
Rob Downs, president of Managed IT Solutions, said anywhere you can slip a quarter, you can put an AirTag. He said the device could be used for stalking or theft, pointing to reports of it being slipped into coats, purses, or hidden under cars.
“They’re pretty inconspicuous,” Downs said. “If they’re not chirping at you, and somebody hides it well, you won’t see it necessarily.”
Garner Police Lieutenant Kevan Anderson said the department has not received any reports of AirTags tracking people, but he wants the public to learn about them.
“This is clearly something that people need to keep an eye on and to be aware of the technology that’s out there,” Anderson said. “As with any technology, it comes with both positives and negatives.”
How do you know if you’re being tracked?
If you have an Apple device, and your Bluetooth is on, you will receive a notification if an AirTag that’s not yours has been moving with you.
“The biggest concern to have is, of course, is if you don’t have an Apple device you won’t get that notice,” Downs said.
Android users can download an app called Tracker Detect. Downs said unlike Apple devices, which will automatically send the notification, the app for Android has to be open and in use to detect an AirTag. AirTags will also chirp between 8-24 hours after it’s been away from its user.
“The notifications are great, I wish they would be a little bit faster, but they’re great,” Downs said.
A spokesperson for Apple sent the following statement to CBS 17 regarding the safety of AirTags.
We take customer safety very seriously and are committed to AirTag’s privacy and security. AirTag is designed with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — that both inform users if an unknown AirTag might be with them, and deter bad actors from using an AirTag for nefarious purposes. If users ever feel their safety is at risk, they are encouraged to contact local law enforcement who can work with Apple to provide any available information about the unknown AirTag.”
Anderson said if you get a notice you’re being tracked to call the police.
“Don’t go home, try not to go to a quiet location, try to go someplace where there’s people, call the police department, and meet with an officer,” Anderson said.
Anderson said law enforcement can work with Apple to use the serial number on the AirTag to track down people who use them for crimes
A spokesperson for the Town of Wake Forest said someone came into the police department on Jan. 2 in reference to an AirTag possibly being placed on her car after receiving a notification on her daughter’s iPhone. The spokesperson said officers checked the car and no AirTag was found. Wake Forest is also urging people to contact the police if they believe they are being tracked.
Downs said it’s hard to pinpoint how often AirTags are used for unwanted tracking because there’s not a lot of data due to it being a newer technology. Apple released the AirTag in late April 2021.