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New York attorney general issues warning about potential AirTag misuse

Apple AirTag

The New York attorney general has issued a warning about the potential malicious use of Apple's AirTag trackers, and gave some safety recommendations to consumers.

Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday issued a consumer alert to "protect New Yorkers from bad actors using Apple AirTags to track individuals' locations and their belongings for harmful purposes."

"Across the country, Apple AirTags are being misused to track people and their belongings to cause harm," said James. "I urge all New Yorkers to pay close attention to their belongings and follow the tips provided by my office to stay safe."

In addition to the warning, and in difference from most other warnings from government officials, James's office also gave safety tips to consumers. They include being aware of "unfamiliar beeping," watching for safety notifications on iPhones, and checking for updated guidance from Apple.

Reports of AirTags misuse have been ticking up since the tracker's release in 2021. While AirTags have been used to deter theft and find missing items, there have been high-profile instances of the Apple tracking devices being used for stalking and other malicious purposes.

Compared to other tracking devices, AirTags have anti-stalking features that make it harder for them to be misused. While competitors like Tile and widely available GPS trackers don't have built-in safety mechanisms, AirTag's security features have led to the arrest of stalkers — and are likely responsible for increased reports of stalking.

In response to the potential for misuse, Apple earlier in February announced a slate of changes aimed at cutting down on stalking or crime. That includes the tweaking of existing safety mechanisms and new features that could make finding an unwanted AirTag easier for iPhone owners.