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Different Types of Security Tags and How to Remove Them

Different Types of Security Tags and How to Remove Them

Ever since we were a bit young, we have all seen these small plastic tags on clothes and other items inside any supermarket or big store. These tags are notoriously hard to remove, let’s be honest, we’ve all tried to do that. These are known as EAS Security Tags. They are essential in maintaining strong security & deterring theft inside retail stores & libraries.

They are very high in demand, as they are cheap to implement and reusable. So, let’s learn more about these tags, and how to remove them.

What are EAS Security Tags?

One of the most popular tools to improve security and deter theft in retail stores right now is the EAS Security Tags. Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) is a system of securing assets that are used to prevent the unauthorized exit of any item from the premises. An EAS security system consists of tags and security gates. An EAS tag alerts the security gates and the anti-theft alarm, allowing the security team to stop a stolen item from leaving the premises.

Types of Security Tags & Their Working Principles

Based on their working principle, there are three types of EAS tags available for consumers. These are Electro-Magnetic (EM), Acousto-Magnetic (AM), and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). The basic idea behind all these systems is the same – communication between the tags & gates using electromagnetic waves. However, in practical applications, they are quite different, let’s check them out.

How Do EAS Security Tags Work?

There are two components of an EAS security system, namely – the EAS Tag, and EAS Security Gates. They communicate using electromagnetic signals and maintain security inside the premises. However, you can classify these systems based on the type of signal and their working principles.

Electro-Magnetic EAS System

Also known as an EM tag, these contain a layer of ferromagnetic material lined on the inside, next to a strip of amorphous metal. The amorphous metal strips in the tags start to vibrate in different frequencies (also known as producing harmonics) when it’s inside an electromagnetic field. The status of a tag depends on whether the ferromagnetic layer is magnetized or not. If it’s not, the metal strip will start to vibrate and produce harmonics once it enters the signal field of the security gates. However, if it is magnetized then the layer will stop the strip from vibrating because of a principle called magnetic biasing.

Acousto- Magnetic EAS System

Much like EM, acousto-magnetic systems work on the principle of using signals to cause the magnetic strip to vibrate. However, an AM system uses signal pulses in the range of 58 KHz. This causes the strip to change its magnetization which is then picked up by the security gate, alerting the system. The biggest difference between EM and AM is that in EM the strip needs to be demagnetized to turn on the tag. However, in AM, the strip must be magnetized to turn on the tag.

Radio Frequency Identification EAS System

An RFID system works by communicating between the tag and the security gate/reader through radio waves. The tag consists of a microchip and a small antenna that works as a transponder. Whenever a tag enters the field of influence of a reader, it starts to broadcast a preprogrammed signal using the energy from the reader’s signal. The reader’s antenna acts as a transmitter and can pick up these signals and alert the system. Usually after billing, the store will disable the RFID tag.

How to Remove Security Tags?

There are several methods of removing and deactivating EAS security tags. Mind you, there is a difference between deactivating and removing a tag. Deactivating refers to turning the tag off, meaning it won’t alert the security gate. Removing/Detaching refers to physically removing the tag from an item. So, let’s discuss how to do both.

How are EAS Tags Detached?

The EAS tags generally have two components, the tag with the lock inside it, which is inaccessible, and a pin. The pin is held tightly by the lock in such a way that unless the lock is moved down, you won’t be able to pull the pin out. The only way to remove the tag is with the use of magnets. There are two types of detachers, mechanical and electronic, both use magnets. Just put the tag inside/on the detacher, the detacher will use a powerful magnet (either permanent or an electromagnet) to pull the lock allowing you to remove the pin. This method works for EM and AM tags.

When it comes to RFID tags, the detachment process is even easier. Just grab a corner and gently peel off the RFID tag. Or if it’s on the inside, you can just leave it there.

How to Deactivate an EAS Security Tag?

Aside from detaching, you also need to deactivate the tags before they leave the store or the item. For electro-magnetic and acousto-magnetic tags, you just need to put it on the detacher and press the deactivate button. In the case of EM, the detacher will magnetize the ferromagnetic layer, and for AM tags, it will demagnetize the metal strip.

For RFID however, it is a bit different, when you put an RFID tag on a reader and tell it to deactivate the tag. The reader sends out a signal, known as the “kill signal”. This signal reprograms the tag to not broadcast a signal if it comes into the range of a reader. Effectively deactivating the tag permanently (killing it).

EAS Security Tags FAQ: 

Q1. How do I remove all types of security tags?

Ans: Unless you’re planning to shoplift from your local supermarket, you can just use a security tag detacher. Just put your tag on the detacher and follow the instructions given in its manual. If you’re a consumer and the billing attendant forgot to remove the tag from your item, you can just use a strong neodymium magnet to detach the tag. Although, we advise you to just go back to the store and tell them to detach it.

Q2. What are the different types of security tag?

Ans: There are three types of EAS security tags in the industry: Electro-Magnetic (EM) Tag, Acousto-Magnetic (AM) Tag, and RFID Tag.

Q3. Do security tags have GPS?

Ans: Yes, some select high-end active RFID tags can have an in-built GPS tracker. However, most of the tags available in the market do not have GPS tracking available.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Apr 13, 2023

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