Types of Security Tags

Updated February 21, 2017

Security tags are used in most retail stores to discourage shoplifting. They are attached to the product by some means and linked to a scanner which is placed by the door. Many different types of security tags exist, all intended to be primarily used for different types of products.

Checkpoint Tags

The most common type of security tag is made from two pieces; one is a black plastic oval and the other is a bead that fits into the centre. The bead is magnetically attached to the other side and can only be removed by using a specialised magnet. Several different companies manufacture this type of tag, including Checkpoint, Ketec, ID and Sentech, but Checkpoint is the largest of these. These types of tags usually broadcast at 8.2MHz. These tags come in two different sizes, one about 1 ½ inches by 2 inches, and another, larger, rectangular type. The larger the tag, the better it will ring the system.

Sensormatic Tags

Sensormatic tags are also very common. They operate on the same basic principle as the checkpoint tag, but the two pieces connect together using a different mechanism: instead of a magnet, a pin is fitted into a hole. Sensormatic tags also operate at a different frequency, 58 kHz, although older types of Sensormatic tags operated based on a different medium of communication. Sensormatic tags are a bit more difficult to remove than other types, and also tend to wear out faster. Sensormatic tags come in a wide variety of styles: long, thin pencil tags, ultra-gator tags, short ultra max tags and supertags, which are larger and bulkier.

Knogo Tags

Knogo tags are an older type of tag that operate at 2MHz. They do not, however, operate very well with newer types of security tags.

Soft Tags

Both Sensormatic and Checkpoint manufacture soft tags as well. These appear as soft plastic strips with bar codes on the outside. This type of tag is used for books, bottles, CDs, DVDs, electronics and other boxed items.

Built-In Lanyard Tags

For items that are difficult to tag, such as bottles, shoes or handbags, some security tags come outfitted with a built-in lanyard. The lanyard wraps around a part of the product.

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About the Author

Justin Mitchell has been a writer since 2009. In 2002, he received a B.A. in theater and writing from the University of Northern Colorado. Mitchell worked as an ESL teacher in Europe and Asia before earning a master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York. He has written for the "New York Daily News" and, among other outlets.