The Ultimate Guide to RF Security Tags

Posted by Bullseye Protection on

How many types of RF security tags are out there? What are the differences between them, and which ones are right for you and your business? Find out here.

As many as one in every eleven people in the USA are shoplifters. This is a huge number and a very real security threat. With this in mind, you should have systems in place to prevent such problems.

One of the primary ways this has happened in recent years is through RF security tags. But do you know what these are, how they work, and how they can help you?

This article will explain what RF tags are, and by the end, you should have a good idea of the benefit they can give you and your store. Keep reading to find out what you should know.

What Are RF Security Tags?

These tags are small devices that inform a shop's employees of when someone enters or exits with the tag on them.

RF security tags are thus used to ensure specific products are safe from theft. Their activation also proves that an individual has stolen the item rather than bought it. This is because they are often turned off or removed by the checkout when they pass through a deactivation system.

These items use wireless technology to function. This lets them work over a distance and without needing to be around another part of the shop. The tags can also activate silent alarms, preventing thieves from knowing they are being watched until staff catches them.

How Do RF Tags Work?

Retail security tags comprise of two components: A small coiled antenna, and a tiny radio transmitter. When an electromagnetic wave from a special "gate" hits the antenna, it generates an electrical current.

This current is enough for the radio transmitter to work and send a signal to the gate. The gate then picks up this special radio message and activates an alarm.

This gate is usually put at the entrances and exits, to inform security of when people come or go from the building. The item is also reusable, so you can remove it from the item and attach it to another later.

Also, you can request that several people who may have activated the gate should walk through it again one at a time. This allows you to see who has the tag on their person without actually searching their property.

When the checkout operator scans an item with an RF tag on them, a mechanism or magnet in the checkout can remove or destroy an RF tag. This allows a person making legitimate purchases the freedom to travel through the front door without problems.

Types of RF Tags

There are many different forms that RF tags take. The following is a list of example tags that you can find in the market. By learning more about the options that are available to you, you can better decide which is best for your business.

Large Tags

Shop owners tend to apply these tags to clothing items or other large items that need an extra layer of security detection. They are soft tags, meaning you can attach them to flexible materials, such as cloth or other delicate items.

You can also hide these flat tags underneath stickers such as barcodes or sale offer labels. Their form also allows for you to place them under some packaging, keeping them safe from tampering. Examples of items that are perfect for these tags include:

  • Books, where you can hide them between pages or on the cover
  • Cosmetics, due to their light mass
  • DVD and CD cases, where you can slip them underneath the cover or applied via a sticker

Mini Tags

Mini tags, much like large tags, work well on items that are quite flexible. This can include books, clothes or CD or DVD cases. This flexibility helps keep the shape of the product without giving away the fact that they contain mini tags inside their container.

The benefit that mini tags give over the above large tags is their clear and small nature. Because of this, they work well on products that need the product to hide the RF tag itself. Especially a product that someone can open before they have bought it.

rf mini tag security tag

Books, pharmaceuticals, and many other products can prevent people from finding a mini tag before someone has bought it. This means that you can use them without worrying about thieves looking through the item and removing the tag. This saves you on wastage with both the products as well as the RF tags in the long term.

Mini Tags Without a Pin

You can also buy mini tags without a holding pin. As you can buy the pins separate from the tags, this helps in the case of lost, stolen, or broken pins and tags.

Clam Tags

Clam tags are especially popular in the retail industry at present. The tag uses a thin pin that can pierce through most clothing without leaving any significant damage to secure its two sides. You can then remove the tag at the checkout with a simple magnetic system.

clam tag rf compatible

Its size and shape also cause the tag to be very difficult to force open with hands or tools. This prevents more tampering and the removal of the tag before exiting the store.

This tag is best used with both expensive and delicate clothing items due to its form and size.

Stylus Tags

The stylus tag is a short, plastic tool that you can attach to other items using a lanyard or pin. The lanyard is a piece of metal and plastic that locks the stylus.

The stylus has a small visible footprint while also remaining visible on any product you attach it to. Or, you can place it inside containers such as shoe boxes or other closed items.

This kind of tag is good for use with small items, or clothing, due to its size and shape.

Stylus Tags With Lanyards

Besides the regular stylus tag, you can buy the lanyards alongside the stylus tag. Lanyards are perfect for when you want to attach the tag to any item where you can not use a pin. This includes thick or dense materials or items that will leak if pierced.

Other utility uses for the lanyard include tying boots and sandals together. This can prevent the theft of single items.


Much like with Lock Tight Tags, these items are often used for alcoholic drinks due to the danger of people stealing the bottles regularly. Also, you can use them for several other items you might sell. You can secure anything that the loop can go around and in this way to prevent people from thieving it.

The reinforced wire inside the item makes it especially secure from theft. This ensures potential thieves cannot break the tag and take the goods from your store.

The customizable size of this item also makes it more useful than Lock Tight Tags for items of different sizes. You can still secure bottles with unusual necks where the hard plastic of the Lock Tight Tag does not work.

Pico Tags

The Pico tag is one of the more popular tags used in the world at present. It combines the hard plastic tag with a small pin that keeps it in place. This allows you to use it to secure clothing or thin plastic containers with ease.

Pico Tag rf compatible

You should use pico tags with small items or clothing, as their size and shape match these items best, and thier round shape adapts to many types of products where are vertical tag wouldn't.

Paper Security Labels

Paper labels such as these consist of a thin paper cover over the RF tag's antenna. You can use them to protect items that you cannot use a hard or pinned tag with. Books, cosmetics, and fragile items are perfect for this system to protect.

You can also use these labels across the opening on CD and DVD covers to prevent others from opening them. They create a seal that a thief must break before they can access the contents. This is an extra step that deters thieves from stealing only the contents of packages.

Ink Tags

The ink tags do not prevent the theft of an item with an alarm. Instead, if someone wishes to remove the device from an item they have stolen, they are very likely to break the tag. Breaking the tag will release a special non-washable ink that will frustrate anyone that it comes into contact with.

Studies suggest that people are less likely to steal things they can neither use nor sell. Thus, these ink tags act more as a deterrent than as a method of catching a thief.

Using ink tags alongside alarm systems can prevent all but the most determined criminals. They stop thieves at the point of deciding on theft, as well as offer the opportunity to catch them. Finally, even if they do succeed at stealing the item, the ink tag prevents them from enjoying it.

Car Keys Security Tags

Car key security tags have a long wire that runs from the hard tag for several feet. You can use these to ensure the security of any item that you cannot attach a tag to with a pin or small lanyard.

These tags are also perfect for attaching to a vehicle's steering wheel and locking the keys in place. This lets the car have the keys in it, while also preventing thieves from stealing the car by locking the steering wheel in a specific position. Any thief would not be able to turn the wheel.

Where Can You Find Out More About RF Security Tags?

You should now have a much more comprehensive understanding of RF security tags and what they can offer you. If you still have questions, though, you can always ask for more information.

Our specialists can advise you on the best retail security and loss prevention products for your situation. So, if you want to find out more about what retail security tags can do for you, pick up the phone today and give us a call.

Older Post Newer Post

Signup For Newsletter

By submitting your information you agree to receive emails from BullsEye Protection