COPCP Warns of Tracking Threat

 AirTags are intended to locate bags, keys, and other personal items. In the wrong hands, these tracking devices can be misused for criminal and harmful purposes. Always be alert and aware. If you find an unknown tracking device, call the police to report it.

How do they work? According to Apple:
•“Your AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in the Find My network. These devices send the location of your AirTag to iCloud — then you can go to the Find My app and see it on a map. The whole process is anonymous and encrypted to protect your privacy. Itʼs efficient, so thereʼs no need to worry about battery life or data usage”
•“When youʼve left something far behind, like at the beach or the gym, the Find My network — hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices around the world — helps track down your AirTag. AirTag is designed to protect your privacy every step of the way”.
•“Apple Air Tag batteries last for one year and don’t need to be recharged, in fact, there is no way to charge the battery”.

New York State Attorney General James recommends consumers take the following steps to protect themselves and their belongings:

  • Listen for unfamiliar beeping. When an AirTag is separated from a familiar device for some time, the AirTag will start to make a beeping noise. If you hear this beeping noise, try to locate its source. AirTags can be stuck in various places including in bags and pockets, under cars, inside of bumpers, and the back of license plates. If you find an unfamiliar AirTag, hold your smartphone up to it to receive information about the AirTag including its serial number. Write down this information, then disable the AirTag by using the instructions on the screen or by removing the AirTag’s battery, and call your local law enforcement for assistance.
  • Watch for “Item Detected Near You” notifications on iPhones. If your iPhone has been close to an unfamiliar AirTag or other accessory for a prolonged period of time, you may receive a notification on the Find My application stating, “Item Detected Near You.” Tap this message and it will allow you to play a sound on the AirTag in order to find it. You will also be able to use the app to receive information about the AirTag and disable it. Be sure to write down any information you learn about the AirTag before disabling it and call your local law enforcement for assistance. This Find My feature only works if your device is running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later, so be sure to keep your device’s operating system up to date.
  • If you have an Android device, download Tracker Detect from the Google Play Store. If you hear unfamiliar beeping, you can use Tracker Detect on your Android device to find any unfamiliar AirTags within your Bluetooth range. Please note that you will have to manually scan the area using the app, it will not scan for devices automatically.
  • Know that not all unfamiliar AirTags are malicious. While it is important to be careful, AirTags are sometimes legitimately lost by their users, and your device will alert you regardless. If an AirTag has been reported lost, your Find My notification will give you information to allow you to return it.
  • Check for updated guidance. Apple has issued guidance on how to deal with unknown AirTags or Find My alerts. If you come across any issues, check with Apple for updated guidance.
  • Update your Apple device’s operating system. Apple is implementing new safety measures, so make sure you update your Apple device’s operating system regularly.

Find and Disable an AirTag:

 Android users are encouraged to download tracker detect at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.apple.trackerdetec

Learn more about detecting and disabling an AirTag from Apple: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212227

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