Sam, a lady from Brooklyn, was on her way home from the pub she allowed run some weeks back when she got a notice on her phone that said, “The owner can see your current position of this AirTag.” Sam immediately called the club and explained the situation.
She’d never heard of AirTags, the button-sized location monitoring devices that Apple introduced in April of this year, until now. The business touts them as a convenient method to quickly keep track of vital possessions, such as keys and wallets and offers them for a reasonable $29 per piece or $99 for a set of four for a total cost of $199.
It was 1 a.m. at the time. On Sam’s phone, she received messages stating that one AirTag device had been identified following her the day before and that a second device had been spotted tracking her later that afternoon.
The most concerning aspect of the alerts was that they contained a map with a red line indicating the precise location of Sam’s route from the pub to her apartment building.
She sought counsel from a friend, who helped her figure out what she should be looking for: a silver-white chip a little more than an inch across. “I go through all of my belongings, my purse and everything, my gym bag, my jacket,” remembered Sam, who asked that her full name not be used to preserve her anonymity on HuffPost.
But she didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. She followed her friend’s advice and changed her clothing before returning to the exterior of her apartment building, only to discover that the red line had traced her movements.
She and her companion searched her phone case thoroughly, but they could not find anything. Sam went around her apartment complex streets, keeping an eye out for the red line following her.
Women all across the nation are reporting similar occurrences to police and local news organizations to increase public awareness that Apple’s AirTags may be concealed in automobiles and personal things to follow individuals without their knowledge, according to the FBI. The number of tales on TikTok is increasing, and some have been shared on Reddit and Twitter.
Sometimes individuals can locate the gadgets, while others cannot do so.
Brooks Nader, a model from New York City, documented her encounter on social media earlier this year, and it has now gone viral.
She said she had been out at a packed pub with her coat hanging on a chair when she received a message that an unknown AirTag device was following her. She was heading back to her apartment when she received the notification.
“All I want is for people to be aware that this exists,” she said on her Instagram account. Ashley Estrada, a Los Angeles lady, created a popular TikTok video. She explains how she discovered a gadget trapped between her license plate and the body of her automobile. A lady from Oregon shared a tale that was similar to mine.
Courtney Chandler, a resident of Philadelphia, told local TV station 6 ABC that she woke up last month to the identical iPhone message regarding an unknown AirTag as she did this month. However, it looked to have come loose at some time throughout the night before she arrived at her destination.
I have no clue who has done this to me, which is what makes it so terrifying. “I have no idea what their goals are,” Chandler told the news source.
Devices that monitor a person’s whereabouts are not new. For keys and wallets, Tile also manufactures trackers that are small enough to fit in a pocket. The company bills itself as “the world’s biggest lost and found.”
Apple’s network, on the other hand, is very strong. AirTags can communicate with the Find My network, which uses Bluetooth technology and other people’s iPhones, MacBooks, and iPads, a total of hundreds of millions of devices, according to Apple, to ping location signals back to the person who owns the AirTag and tracks it.
The procedure is so efficient that it has little impact on the battery life. Furthermore, since Apple devices are currently widely distributed around the globe, the location data is often quite accurate.
Using satellite GPS tracking, a tracking gadget from LandAirSea is used in conjunction with a monthly membership fee. Tile, like AirTags, makes use of Bluetooth technology.
However, one New York Times tech writer who used those three different devices to monitor her spouse discovered that the Apple gadget provided the most detailed findings, especially in an urban area, compared to the other two.
Apple has been forced to respond to concerns about AirTags on several occasions in the past year; shortly after their release, The Washington Post published a story with the headline “Apple’s AirTags Made It Frighteningly Easy to ‘Stalk’ Me in a Test,” in which the company acknowledged that the tags were “frighteningly easy to stalk.”
Additionally, the business highlighted additional safety measures while defending the trackers this past week.
According to the software giant, “Since AirTag’s inception last April, people have written in to tell endless experiences of AirTag being crucial in reconnecting them with the things they cherish.” One such story involved the reunion of a youngster with a necessary prescription misplaced on a bus.
There are some positive social media postings about the AirTag as well; for example, a TikTok video showed the gadget looped over a happy woman’s shorts with the caption: “When your friends purchase an AirTag to keep track of you at parties since you’re constantly running away.”
On the other hand, Apple has recognized that some users are utilizing AirTags incorrectly.
According to Apple, “we take customer safety extremely seriously and are dedicated to AirTag’s privacy and security,” according to a statement to HuffPost that emphasized safety measures the firm labeled “industry firsts.”
According to the company, the capabilities “both notify consumers when an unknown AirTag may be present and dissuade criminal actors from exploiting an AirTag for malicious reasons.”
If an iPhone running iOS 14.5 or later discovers an AirTag in possession of someone who does not own it, the iPhone will notify the owner. According to Apple, the notice will appear either at the end of the day or when the iPhone recognizes that you have arrived at your destination, which is most likely why Sam got a notification at the time she did.
If you have an Android phone, you may download new software released in December that will alert you if any mysterious AirTags follow you.
AirTags will also generate noise if they are isolated from their owners for an extended period, which may occur at any time between eight and 24 hours after separation.
According to the corporation, randomization serves to prevent undesirable behavior. Using your phone, you may cause the AirTag to chirp, which will allow you to locate it more quickly.
Those who come across an unwanted AirTag are advised to either deactivate it using their phone or disassemble it; complete instructions may be available on the company’s website.
However, as anybody who has used Bluetooth speakers will tell, the technology is not without its flaws. Sam attempted to follow the instructions on her phone to compel the two AirTags following her to create a noise, but they could not establish a connection to play the sound.
After seeing a guy in her apartment building who seemed to observe her and follow her down the street, she began to be cautious of him. Sam threw her phone case, which was the kind that doubled as a wallet, in a trash can outside a bodega and went inside to get some items to take with her to her friend’s house for the night.
Her phone subsequently revealed that the AirTags had ceased following her at approximately 4 a.m., bringing the three-hour odyssey to a successful conclusion. She has a suspicion about the phone case, but she has no means of knowing for certain.
In a statement to HuffPost, the company stated that if consumers ever believe their safety is in jeopardy, they should call local law authorities, who may work with Apple to give any accessible information about the unknown AirTag.
Each AirTag is labeled with a serial number that may be traced back to the owner. However, there isn’t much that can be done for folks who don’t have an AirTag on them.
According to Amber Norsworthy, a Mississippi lady who was out at a park with her three children when the warning came in, the family examined all their possessions and found nothing.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Norsworthy said, “I believe they should suspend sales for some time until they can establish some safety parameters with it.”
The business claims that it collaborates with law enforcement daily to track the devices, which in some circumstances results in charges being filed and, in others, reveals a misunderstanding, such as when a family member borrows a vehicle.
Sam headed to the New York Police Department station closest to her home in Brooklyn.
“They were contemptuous,” she stated of the group. The cops with whom she talked were adamant about not writing anything down. It was as if they were saying, ‘There is nothing to report.’ There was no action. We can’t simply sit down and prepare a report. ‘This isn’t like one of those television programs.'”
In interviews with The New York Times, women who talked about the subject described having similar negative encounters with the police.
Because she wanted more peace of mind, Sam ended up changing the locks on her apartment and putting a tiny security camera outside the entrance. The guy she spotted observing her, who turned out to be a subletter, eventually moved out.
Apple stated on Thursday that it would be releasing improvements later this year to make the AirTags more visible and simpler to discover.
One such improvement, dubbed “precise finding,” would enable you to use your phone to determine how far away the AirTag is, while another would alert users more quickly whether an AirTag was following them in the first instance.
According to Apple, it has also been discovered that its AirPods trigger alerts with a slightly different phrase, “unknown accessory identified,” and a future update would explain that the item is a safe set of headphones.
AirTag users will be confronted with a notification, according to Apple, while setting up their devices, forcing them to accept that the gadgets are exclusively for monitoring personal possessions. It is often illegal to use them to hunt down someone without their consent.
What individuals do with such knowledge, on the other hand, is completely out of their control.