What to do if someone slips a Bluetooth tracker into your car, bag or pocket?
Modern tech gadgets make stalking easier than before – meaning you need to be aware of the many ways people can track you. One man always knew where his wife was going, right down to her arrival and departure times, although she didn’t tell him the details. When she asked for help, I told her that he was probably tracking her through Google, which keeps a secret map of everywhere you’ve been.
That’s because Google Maps works even if you don’t have a Google account associated with it. It uses the GPS location on your phone to see where you are and where you’ve been in the last five years. Tap or click here to disable this invasive Google Maps setting.
Bluetooth trackers pose another significant risk to your privacy. Strangers, jealous exes and even burglars use Apple AirTags to track down unwitting victims. Here you will find everything you need to know about this threat, along with some defense strategies.
It’s a huge problem. Everyone is in danger
I keep getting emails from people saying they’ve seen Apple AirTags put on their bags, cars and so on. Some people are driving around town, doing their shopping, when they see a Bluetooth tracker on their vehicle. That means some creep is following them on their phone and jotting down each location.
Here’s a quick rundown of how this happens.
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So Apple released AirTags in 2021. They cost $30 each — or you can get a four-pack for about $100. Since they’re affordable, anyone can buy them. Unlike most Bluetooth trackers, they are not GPS based. Long story short, they work by pinging nearby iPhones.
They are designed to help anyone who loses things. For example, you can attach them to your keys, so if you ever lose your fob, you can pull out your smartphone to find its exact location. Unfortunately, car thieves can use Apple AirTags to track your vehicle and steal it right from your driveway.
PREPARE YOURSELF WITH THIS TIP: 6 ways to protect your car from thieves
Apple should tell you when you’re being tracked…but it doesn’t always work
Called a YouTuber Travis MCP put this to the test. He secretly placed an Apple AirTag on his friend’s car and watched his every move for 18 hours. Not once did his friend get a notification from Apple.
However, one woman did receive a report, which may have saved her life. While driving home from a bar, a Twitter user saw a warning on her iPhone. Then she found an AirTag attached to the underside of her car’s wheel arch.
If you ever get a notification that an AirTag is following you, follow these steps:
Tap the message and then tap Continue. If you can’t find the AirTag itself, tap Play Sound. When you find the strange AirTag, tap Learn more about this AirTag. You will see the serial number and if it is marked as lost. Tap Instructions to turn off AirTag and follow the onscreen steps to stop sharing your location.
Bad news for Android users
Only iPhone users get automatic notifications. If you are using an Android phone and suspect that someone is following you, you should detect tracker app and scan it manually.
What to learn from this story
Fortunately, Apple notified her of this issue. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t always work. As Travis MCP said, he could track his friend for 18 hours, and his friend was none the wiser.
For this reason, we recommend checking your car before you go. Usually, a burglar or stalker will slip a Bluetooth tracker into your wheel arch or under the vehicle. Look around and feel around for small metal objects.
We know it’s annoying, but there’s no other way. And it may take a while for the tracker to warn you.
Coats and bags can also put you at risk
A Texas woman named Sheridan Ellis said she found a Bluetooth tracker in her purse after enjoying a birthday dinner with friends. “Check your bags,” she said in a caption. Therefore, zip up your wallet or keep it closed in some other way. Otherwise, a shady stranger could sneak one of these trackers into your bag.
Fortunately, Ellis found a Tile tracker instead of an AirTag. Tiles use GPS, which means someone can only track you if they’re within 80 meters. However, these restrictions do not apply to AirTags.
An Instagram model named Brooks Nader says she left a jacket on a chair while drinking at a bar. A few hours later, she was walking home around 11:30 PM when she got a call from Apple.
“It said: ‘Someone is following you and has been following you for a while'” she said in an Instagram video. It turns out that someone had put an AirTag in the pocket of her jacket. Because she walked home alone at night, she was terrified.
Unfortunately, it seems that you have to check your jacket pockets, bags and even your car when you go out. Until Apple finds a solution to AirTags abuse, it’s one more step you need to take to stay safe. Think of it as a precaution, like locking your car or buying a security system.
However, there is a silver lining
However, the situation is not hopeless. Organizations hold Apple accountable. On January 26, the Surveillance Technology Surveillance Project demanded that Apple stop selling AirTags. The nonprofit advocacy group has warned about the stalking risk in the past and said Apple’s safeguards have failed.
In light of recent events, Apple has Personal Safety User Guide with instructions for people who find unfamiliar AirTags (or hear a tracker make a sound).
The guide has been around for a while, but this update provides more in-depth information. Both Android and Apple users will be instructed on what AirTag warnings mean and what to do if they are followed.
However, Apple has not made any changes to AirTag’s functionality. At least for now, critics know that Apple is aware of the problem.
Whether these updates can solve the stalking problem remains to be seen. In the meantime, keep looking for hidden Bluetooth trackers.
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