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How to locate and disable an unknown AirTag on Android and iOS

AirTags are great when they are used as intended, but people can also use the tracker for stalking someone. Here’s everything you need to know.

apple airtag being held
Image: Unsplash

AirTags are useful for keeping track of certain items, such as wallets, keys, and bags. However, stalkers can misuse these nifty little gadgets by choosing to track people.

That can be a double-edged sword, however. You could have an AirTag on you right now and not even know it. But don’t panic.

Apple makes identifying rogue trackers easy and once you’ve located an unknown AirTag, disabling it is a simple process. Let’s discuss how to foil your stalker’s scheme.

Locate and disable an unknown AirTag in iOS

someone holding an apple airtag
Image: Unsplash

Using an iOS device is the easiest way to avoid AirTag stalkers. As long as you’re running up-to-date software—iOS 14.5 or later—you’ll receive an alert whenever an unknown tracker is moving with you.

When an “Item Detected Near You” alert does appear, you can use these steps to locate and disable the unknown AirTag:

  1. Tap the alert

  2. Tap Continue

  3. Tap Play Sound if you need help locating the AirTag apple airtag detected near you

  4. If the item has a good reason for being with you, you can choose to Pause Safety Alerts, which will disable notifications for that AirTag for one day

  5. Tap Learn About This AirTag to see the AirTag’s serial number and check if the owner has marked the item as lost

  6. If you need to disable the AirTag or another Find My network accessory, you should tap Instructions to Disable and complete the process described

Disabling the device basically involves removing the battery, which you can do by pushing down on the stainless steel side of the case and rotating counterclockwise.

Once you’ve removed the cover, you can pop out the battery to render the AirTag nonfunctional.

READ MORE: Apple is covering its ass by introducing new AirTag safety features

Finding an unknown AirTag in your possession can be disturbing. Take this story below, for example. Someone has been secretly tracking this woman’s whereabouts across different states in the country. And this isn’t an isolated incident, more and more people are reporting similar situations.

If you feel that you’re in genuine danger, you should swiftly contact local law enforcement and report the situation.

Locate and disable an unknown AirTag with Android

tracker detector for airtags on android
Image: KnowTechie

Previously, Android users were wide open to AirTag stalking, but Apple eventually released an app that allows you to identify rogue trackers in your immediate area. Tracker Detect is available on the Google Play Store.

Once you’ve installed the app, you can use these steps to locate and disable an AirTag with your Android device:

  1. Launch Tracker Detect
  2. Tap Scan
  3. Tap Play Sound if you need help locating the unknown AirTag
  4. Tap Learn About This Item Tracker for more information
  5. If you require assistance disabling the device, tap Instructions to Disable

Android users don’t have the option to scan their surroundings automatically, so you’ll need to perform the action manually if you suspect that someone is tracking you.

What to do if you find a lost AirTag item

airtag owner information screen on iphone
Image: KnowTechie

If you locate a lost tracker in the wild, you can use your iPhone or other NFC-capable device to help identify the owner. Here’s how:

  1. Hold your phone near the white surface of the AirTag until a notification appears
  2. Tap the alert to access information about the AirTag. If the owner has marked the item as lost, a message with contact details should appear

Apple is trying to make AirTags safer

Whenever a new technology arises, someone inevitably tries to use it for evil deeds. Therefore, people utilizing these trackers to stalk others shouldn’t come as a surprise. We can, however, take measures to thwart these shifty characters and take back technology for its intended use.

Apple is putting effort into to increasing safety surrounding its product—and that’s good to see. Tracker Detect is a welcome application that, ultimately, should’ve arrived a lot sooner.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Matt is an Australian writer with a degree in creative and critical writing. Prior to commencing his studies, he worked in tech support and gained valuable insights into technology and its users. He is also an editor and author coach at Dean Publishing.

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