January is National Stalking Month which makes this a good time to talk about how tech devices can be used to stalk you. Now If you're one of those people who has a habit of losing items, the Apple AirTag and Samsung SmartTags are great devices that will allow you to keep track of your easily misplaced items just by looking at your smartphone. In recent months, law enforcement across the country is reporting that abusive partners and stalkers are using these devices to keep track of their victims. If you want to make sure you're not being tracked by these items, check out some tips to keep you safe.
One of the biggest concerns about AirTags, SmartTag, and other tiny tracking devices is that they can be used to track people, not those items that are easily lost. The positive thing about AirTags and SmartTags is they are small enough that they won't weigh down items like purses or keyrings and you can quickly locate lost items. The downside is that anyone can slip one into your bag or pocket. This means if you have a stalker or abusive partner, they could then keep tabs on you from their own Apple and Samsung devices.
With the ability to find your devices from your smartphone, you would think AirTags and SmartTags used GPS, but they don't. Like its predecessor Tile, AirTags and Samsung use Bluetooth which normally can only reach an area of 500 feet. However, Apple and Samsung take it a step further using technology that takes advantage of Samsung and Apple's existing Find My Device network of devices, which connects to other people's devices to help you find your missing item's location. Scary huh?
If you suspect someone is using an Apple AirTag or Samsung SmartTag to track you, do the following:
1. If you have an abuser, make sure you always check for tags in your personal belongings.
2. When in crowded public places like bars, sporting events, or even shopping. Do a personal check to make sure someone hasn't slipped a tag in your pockets, purse, or backpacks.
3. Apple devices are already set up to find unknown AirTags. There's nothing that needs to be enabled. If an unknown device is around you, you will get an alert on your phone letting you know there is an unknown device. If there is one, you can ping it to help you find the device. You will also get the serial number of the device. It will let you know if it was reported lost. If it wasn't reported lost, you can get directions on how to disable it.
4. Samsung devices need the SmartThings app which will help you find unknown SmartTag devices. The app pretty much works just like the Apple app helping you stay safe from people trying to track you.
5. Download a Bluetooth scanner app to your smartphone to scan for unknown Bluetooth devices. Let's say you have an iPhone and someone plants a Samsung device on you, your phone wouldn't detect it. That's where a Blue tooth scanner comes in. Check out BLE scanner which can check for unknown Bluetooth devices near you.
6. Remove the battery. Airtags and SmartTags have batteries just like a watch. Remove the battery.
7. Contact law enforcement. AirTags and SmartTags have an identifier on them. Turn the tracker over to law enforce
Devices like SmartTags and AirTags can be useful especially to those of you who lose items frequently. Don't let the fact these trackers can be used to track people instead of items. With technology, there's always the chance that someone will turn items used to help people into items that can cause problems and disruption in the lives of others. Just make sure you're keeping up on the latest news to see which tech items are being used to harass others.
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