HOUSTON - More people are making headlines, including Model Brooks Nader, reporting they’re finding they're being tracked with Apple AirTags. And cyber experts warn AirTags are also being used to carry out scams.
Apple AirTags were designed to help you find items that get misplaced.
"It uses Bluetooth technology, it uses GPS, it uses the Find my iPhone platform to track the location," said Michael Skiba, cybersecurity expert with DrFraud.org. "So if you happen to lose your keys or backpack, you can look on a map and see where exactly it is."
But people report finding them hidden in their bags or cars.
"People are using these for stalking purposes," said Skiba. "Because they’re so small, they can be dropped in someone’s car, in a purse."
A Fayette County Sheriff's Deputy says a driver discovered one in a truck he had just bought in Harris County, which turned out to be reported as stolen.
"I'm sure the individual that had the tracking device, probably had a key to it. So all they had to do was follow this guy wherever the car was parked, get in it and take off in it," said Lt. David Beyer with the Fayette County Sheriff's Office.
Stalking is a serious crime. The Stalking Awareness Prevention and Resource Center reports more than 6 million people are stalked every year, most often those with an abusive partner, young women, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
To protect yourself, make sure your iPhone has the iOS 14.5 updates, which will alert you by a chirping sound or a notice that an AirTag is tracking you.
Hold an iPhone next to an AirTag, and it will reveal the tag's serial number, which you can give to the police to find the owner. From there, you can disable the AirTag.
"You turn the back of it counter-clockwise and pull the battery out. It has a standard watch battery," explained Skiba.
Places to check for hidden AirTags are pockets, bags, and luggage, and behind license plates, in wheel wells or crevices on a vehicle. And watch out for what's called the Good Samaritan AirTag scam. In fact, Skiba says people have been finding items with AirTags and trying to return them, but are directed instead to scam websites.
"What the log-in page might look like is asking for your credential," said Skiba. "It might say something like 'Log in with your username and password, so we can notify the person, or put in your Apple ID or app ID."
If you have an Android phone, Apple has a Tracker Detect app that lets you search for AirTags.
There are other Bluetooth trackers, such as Tiles, which don't have audible alerts and are thinner and harder to find. The Tile app is expected to be updated to include a scanning feature.