Staying Safe with Apple AirTags: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Air tag on a suitcase

Image: Rebecca Edwards, SafeWise

With Apple losing its bid to avoid a lawsuit over how stalkers have used AirTags to track their victims, it's good timing for us to review how to find out if an AirTag is tracking you and what to do if you discover one.

AirTags, small tracking devices designed to help you find lost items, can be misused by individuals seeking to track users without their consent. However, with the right knowledge and tools, you can stay safe and protect your privacy. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps to ensure your safety with AirTags and what to do if you suspect one is tracking you.

How to find out if you're being tracked by an AirTag

Like any tool, AirTags are safe when used responsibly. However, misuse, such as someone attempting to track you without your knowledge, is possible. To combat this, Apple has implemented safety features to alert users when an unknown AirTag is moving with them. Android users can get similar protection by downloading the AirGuard or Tracker Detect apps from Google Play.

Step 1: Check for suspicious AirTags

iPhone users

  • Make sure your device is running iOS 15.2 or later.
  • Open the Find My app and navigate to "Items"> "Items Detected Near You." Any unfamiliar AirTags will be listed here.
  • Tap on the AirTag's name to view its location on a map and confirm if it has been moving with you.
  • It's advisable to take a screenshot for documentation.

Android users

  • Download and open the Tracker Detect or AirGuard app.
  • Tap "Scan," if an unknown AirTag is detected, you'll have access to similar options as iPhone users to locate, identify, and deactivate it.

If you don't have a smartphone

If you don't have a smartphone but hear persistent chirping, it may indicate the presence of an AirTag. These devices emit sounds when separated from their owner's iPhone. To turn it off, remove the battery.

Step 2: Responding to AirTag notifications

If you receive a notification stating "Apple AirTag Near You," take immediate action by tapping on the notification to open the Find My app. From there, tap on the unknown AirTag and swipe up for options. You can play a sound to locate the AirTag or learn more about it.

By tapping "Learn about this AirTag," you can view the last four digits of the owner's phone number. It's wise to take a screenshot of this information for your records.

Step 3: Contacting the owner or authorities

If you recognize the owner based on the phone number provided or feel comfortable with the situation, you may choose to contact them directly to address the issue. However, if you are unsure of the owner's identity or feel unsafe, take action to protect yourself.

Disable the AirTag by removing its battery and contact the authorities to report the incident. Provide them with any relevant information, such as screenshots and details of the situation.

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Disclaimer: Portions of this article were assisted by automation technology. All content therein has been augmented, thoroughly edited, and fact-checked by our in-house editorial staff of human safety experts.

Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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