Tips & How tos

How to Find and Disable a Hidden Apple AirTag Tracking You

AirTag by Apple has a unique tracking system that helps you keep track of your personal belongings. You can quickly locate the item tagged with the AirTag, irrespective of distance. However, this exquisite GPS tracking device can also harm your safety and breach your privacy.

There have been complaints about users being stalked and their location being tracked with these AirTags. And hence, in this article, we will discuss how you can prevent an unknown AirTag from tracking your location. We will also discuss ways to track down the person tracking you with an AirTag.

How to Find and Disable a Hidden Apple AirTag

How can someone use AirTags to track you?

It is straightforward for anyone to put an AirTag in their backpack or your vehicle while you are distracted. Since the AirTags are relatively minor in size, it is even more accessible for them to ensure the AirTag stays hidden from plain sight while staying within your periphery. If you are outside, a stranger may bump into you and put an AirTag in your handbag without getting noticed or place it in your car while you are busy giving directions to another person.

And while AirTag is specifically designed to help track your belongings, many criminals have been using AirTags for tracking people. It dilutes the purpose of the product, converting it into a potential weapon that is dangerous if used for illegal purposes. Moreover, with its feature that enables the device to be traceable from anywhere in the world if an iPhone is nearby, it can cause alarming situations.

How to know if you’re being tracked

You can locate an AirTag near you if you are an iPhone user. The AirTag’s feature allowing all nearby devices with the Find My app to track can tell you if it is an AirTag close to you. Moreover, it will also confirm that the said AirTag is not tagged with your account, confirming that it is an unknown device. Also, you will get an alert continuously if the device moves as you move. So, you get an ‘AirTag detected moving with you’ alert, confirming that it is not connected to your app.

You will also get a notification from the Find My app to locate the device and turn it off. Since an item borrowed from a friend may be tagged with an AirTag, you can always go for the Pause notifications to stop tracking that device. To ensure you receive similar alerts for unknown devices, follow the below procedure-

  • Go to the Find My app on your iPhone/iPad.
  • In the Me section, tap on the Customise Tracking Notifications option.
  • In front of the Allow Notifications option, ensure the slider is green.

Through these alerts, you can see the duration for which said AirTag was with you. Since it also shows a map with tags for the AirTag that was tracked while it was with you, you will be able to see where you may have been handed it over.

How to prevent being tracked by Apple AirTags

As mentioned above, if you keep your Find My app on for notifications in case an AirTag is found nearby, it will be easier to prevent getting tracked by an unknown AirTag. However, again, it can be a false alarm if there is an actual AirTag somewhere else, in your vicinity, or an AirTag attached to an item you carry that belongs to someone else. 

Another thing you can do is to keep checking your backpack or handbag for any unknown device or AirTag that does not belong to you. It is also suggested that having a tracking or scanning app helps if you want to check for any unknown devices around you. 

How and why to get the serial number of an AirTag, you find

If you find an unknown AirTag near you, the first thing to do is to check for its serial number. The serial number of AirTag proves helpful with legal investigations as it can help track the information of the AirTag owner. Here are some easy methods to help you locate the serial number on an AirTag-

  • Use Find My app on your iPhone– Go to the Find My app and bring the AirTag device close to your phone. Now, tap on the notification when the AirTag is detected, and you will see the serial number on top of your iPhone screen. You will also see the last four digits of the AirTag owner’s contact number.
  • Tapping your iPhone with the AirTag– Tap on the top of the iPhone and hold it alongside the white section of the AirTag. Now, when a notification appears on your iPhone, tap on it to go to the web page which shows the serial number of the AirTag.
  • Holding an Android phone near an AirTag– For Android users, keep your phone close to the AirTag, and when a pop-up screen appears, click on it to visit the web page. You will find the AirTag serial number on this web page.
  • Unscrewing the AirTag– On the backside of the AirTag, press on the battery cover and move it in the anti-clockwise direction. Once the cover is unscrewed, take the battery out. You will find the serial number right under the battery holder.

How to turn off AirTag

If you have found an unknown AirTag in your vicinity or your personal belongings, it is best to deactivate the device immediately. Here is how you can turn off an AirTag-

  • On the AirTag, press the backside and twist the cover in the anti-clockwise direction.
  • It will unlock the cover. Now, remove the battery from the device.
  • It will disable AirTag, turning it off completely.

However, with this, it will also send out a notification to the AirTag’s owner, confirming the device has been found by you. In such cases, it is best to report the device to the police and file a formal complaint. Moreover, you should inform people you can trust if it is a safety issue.

Final thoughts

AirTags were solely designed to help people locate their lost belongings. And to a great extent, this device has been helpful, especially for those who keep forgetting their belongings at airports, cafes, etc. However, with improved technology comes the possibility of misuse, which can cause a threat to your safety. So, if you find an unknown AirTag in your backpack or your car, it is best to deactivate it and report it to the police.