“Unknown Accessory Detected Near You” on iPhone: What It Means and Why Are You Getting It?

In a Nutshell

The “Unknown accessory detected near you” or “AirTag found moving with you” notification on iPhone means that an accessory that you do not own has been near your vicinity for some time. The Find My app displays this alert to safeguard against unwanted tracking and discourage people from using AirTags to track others without their knowledge.

Read on to find out why you are getting this alert and the precautions that should be taken.

The Find My app on iOS devices is a useful feature that keeps track of your connected Apple devices and accessories such as AirPods and AirTags.

The app also comes with a security feature that detects unknown Apple accessories that have been near your vicinity for some time. When this happens, your iPhone will display one of the following notifications:

  • Unknown accessory detected near you – This item has been moving with you for a while. The owner can see its location.
  • Unknown accessory detected near you – The location of this item can be seen by the owner.
  • AirTag found moving with you – The location of this AirTag can be seen by the owner. Tap to open Find My and see available actions.

If you’ve been getting similar notifications on your iOS device, here’s what it means and what you can do about it.

What does “Unknown Accessory Detected Near You” mean on iPhone or iPad?

The “Unknown accessory detected near you” is a security notification displayed by the Find My app to protect against unwanted tracking. When you get this notification, it means that an Apple accessory not belonging to you has been around you for a while, such as AirTags or AirPods.

Some users might get the “AirTag Found Moving With You” or “AirPods Pro Found Moving With You” notification which indicates that the mentioned accessories owned by someone else have been near your vicinity for a while.

Your iPhone uses the Find My app to keep track of your Apple accessories and devices. It is also capable of detecting any accessories near you that you do not own. If an unknown accessory has been near you for some time, your iPhone will automatically display the “Unknown Accessory Detected Near You” or “AirTag Found Moving With You” notification to warn you that someone might be trying to track you.

It is known that thieves plant AirTags on people, their car, or their belongings in an attempt to track them without their knowledge and steal their belongings when they are in an uncrowded space.

But that is not always the case. It could be that the accessory was lost by the owner and it happens to be near you or in your car.

If you have been getting these notifications, read the next section to learn what you can do about it and how to locate it.

What to do if your iPhone shows “Unknown Accessory Detected Near You” or “AirTag Found Moving With You” notification?

If your iPhone displays a notification that an AirTag or known accessory has been detected and moving with you, you have to immediately take action to find out the reason behind the notifications.

1. Check if an unknown accessory has been attached to you or your belongings

It is known that thieves attach AirTags to other people’s belongings to keep track of them. An AirTag is a small white circular device that’s about the size of a quarter coin and lets users keep track of their keys, handbags, wallets, etc.

Apple AirTag

The first thing you have to do is to tap on the alert. Find My displays a map of where the accessory was last detected near you along with a series of red dots showing all the places where it was detected.

The next thing to do is to check if the unknown accessory, AirTag, or AirPods is on you or your belongings. You can look for it in the following places:

  • Pockets on your clothing.
  • Bags, backpacks, handbags, and luggage.
  • Inside and outside your car including your tire rims, wheel arcs, and under your car.

2. Play sound on the unknown accessory

If you’re unable to find the AirTag, AirPod, or another unknown accessory that has been traveling with you, you can force it to play a sound using the Find My app so that it can be located.

  1. Tap on the alert that you’ve received about an unknown accessory detected near you.
  2. Press the Continue button.
  3. Tap on the Play Sound button. If the app is unable to play a sound, the button will be grayed out or hidden.
  4. Hear where the sound is coming from to locate the accessory.

Play sound on an AirTag detected near you

3. An item you’ve borrowed might have AirPods or AirTags

If you’ve borrowed something from your friends or family such as keys or bags, they might have attached an AirTag to it.

In such cases, your iPhone detects it as an unknown accessory and displays the “Unknown Accessory Detected Near You” or “AirTag Found Moving With You” message. Likewise, the item that you’ve borrowed may have AirPods in it and that could be triggering the security notification.

If you are able to confirm that this is the case, then you can stop receiving alerts from this accessory by doing the following:

  • Tap on the alert that you received on your iPhone about an unknown accessory or AirTag.
  • Press the Continue button.
  • Swipe up and tap on the Pause Safety Alerts option.

unknown accessory detected near you on iphone

4. Your Apple accessories might be the culprit

If you haven’t been able to find an unknown accessory near your vicinity, then chances are that your own AirTag or AirPods are being detected as an unknown accessory.

This is a common glitch that some Apple users have reported. You can resolve it by resetting your AirTag and AirPods and checking if the unknown accessory alert is displayed again.

Further readings:

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Ali Mahdi

Ali Mahdi is the founder of CyberTips and a seasoned software developer. His expertise lies in programming, cryptocurrency trading, and social media marketing. In addition to CyberTips, Ali has written for other prominent blogs in the past for 5+ years, including iDrop News, Redmond Pie, iPhone Hacks, and iDownloadBlog.