PPS provides safety tips on personal tracking devices

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Personal tracking devices are newer technology devices that are intended to be placed in or on items and track their movements — such as cell phones or keys. They are small and discreet — often difficult to notice. Their intention is for personal device tracking and safety purposes, but there is an increase nationwide in criminal activity reported through the improper use of PTDs. Here are a few tips from the Police and Public Safety Office to remain safe.

How are PTDs being used criminally?

PTDs are paired with a mobile device and then placed in another person’s belongings to track them. The PTDs transmit a Bluetooth signal to the paired device and track the PTD’s location in real time.

What steps can you take to remain safe?

Constantly remain aware of your surroundings.

Check your belongings regularly for unwanted devices — including vehicles, bags, purses and backpacks, clothing pockets and other pocketed items.

Turn on notifications for Apple AirTags

  • Apple users: Individuals using Apple products receive an automatic alert via “Find My” if an unpaired AirTag is in their vicinity. 
  • Android users: Download the “Tracker Detect” app and receive notifications if an AirTag is within range, lost or tracking your location. Learn more on this Apple support page.

What should you do if you receive an alert of an unknown PTD tracking your location or discover a PTD that isn’t yours?

First, consider your situation. Are you borrowing something from someone that may have a PTD attached? (Ex. Some accessories have this feature built in, such as AirPods.) If you can identify the owner of the device and can determine there is no threat, no action is needed.

If you have no knowledge of or rationale for why a PTD would be tracking your location, try to find the device. If you feel your safety is at risk, contact campus police (704-687-2200) or call 911 if you aren’t on campus. In the case of AirTags, law enforcement can work with Apple to request information related to the item.