How To Easily Remove Security Tags From Clothing (Legally)

Have you ever gotten home with a bag full of purchases only to realize that the staff at one of the stores had forgotten to remove a security tag?

While this is a relatively uncommon experience, it is always an ordeal when it does happens\, especially if you ordered an in-store product online and live no where near a store where you can get the issue quickly resolved.

The good news is, there are ways that you can easily remove security tags from clothing at home!

If you’ve purchased an item and found a forgotten security tag still attached to it, stick around – we’ll be covering some simple ways to remove this tag at home.

In this article, we’ll take a look at:

  • Types of Security Tags
  • How To Remove Security Tags By Yourself
  • Professional Security Tag Removal Services
  • Legal Consequences For Unauthorized Security Tag Removal

Let’s go ahead and jump right into it!

Understanding Types of Security Tags

The first step in removing a security tag is identifying type of tag is attached to your clothing.

There are a few different types of security tags out there that function in distinct ways. Below we have a few of the most common types of security tags listed:

Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) Tags

This is the type of security tag that’s used by most retailers, with over 73% of retailers using them.

EAS tags interact with an antenna that’s located at the store's entrance. If the security tag closely approaches or moves past this antenna, an alarm will sound.

This is something that you will likely be familiar with if you have ever accidentally walked too close to a store's entrance while holding an item. The sound that these alarms let off is enough to deter anyone from trying to steal an item.

These types of security tags contain a small electric circuit inside them which communicates with the detection system.

This makes it an extremely effective device for theft prevention and stops items from leaving stores without the tag being removed.

Benefit Denial Tags

Another common type of security tag is a benefit denial tag. These tags damage or spoil the merchandise in some way if they are tampered with. This is often done by the tag releasing indelible ink that renders the item unsellable.

The purpose behind these tags is to prevent anyone but the staff of the store from removing them.

This is another effective theft deterrent as it damages the stolen goods so that they can not be resold for a profit.

While these types of security tags often can be taken out of the store without setting off any sort of alarm, once the thief attempts to remove the tag, it will render the item useless.

These tags are typically magnetic with a thick plastic cover. If you are attempting to remove this type of tag at home, it is important to not break it open in any way.

Visual Deterrent Tags

The final type of security tag we will cover is a visual deterrent tag. The interesting thing about this type of tag is that you may not even realize you’ve seen one!

These tags mimic the appearance of EAS security tags but are not actually connected to any alarm system and do not interact with store antennas.

The purpose of these tags is to suggest to customers that some sort of alarm will sound if they attempt to leave with the item, when in reality this is not the case.

A great deal of the time, just the implication that these tags are connected to an alarm system is enough to prevent theft.

This is a quick and convenient way for a store to prevent shoplifting without having to invest in genuine EAS tags or set up any type of electronic security system.

How To Remove Security Tags By Yourself

If you’ve come home from the store or have ever received an online purchase only to find out that the staff has forgotten to remove a security tag – don’t panic!

There are a few quick and easy ways that you can remove this tag by yourself in less than 5 minutes using items found around your home.

How To Remove a Security Tag With a Magnet

Some security tags can be removed just by using a magnet and some careful turning. Simply follow these instructions to remove your security tag with a magnet.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Place the magnet on a flat surface.
  2. Position the dome side of the tag down on the magnet.
  3. Apply a slight pressure and rotate the tag until you hear a click, indicating the lock has disengaged.

If you find this method is not working for you, it’s probably because the magnet you are using isn’t strong enough.

Try out a stronger magnet and if this does not solve the issue, chances are the security tag is not magnetic and it is time to try other methods.

Freezing Security Tags

Many security tags that are attached to clothing items using pins can be removed easily once they are frozen.

The cold temperatures will make the pin brittle, making it easier to pull or snap and detach it from the clothing.

Before attempting this method, be sure that the tag you are removing is attached to the garment with a pin.

If the tag is magnet-based, not only will this method NOT work, but it may be a benefit denial tag and could damage the clothing if broken.

To remove a security tag with the freezing method, check out the simple instructions below.


  1. Place the garment with the tag into the freezer and leave it overnight.
  2. Carefully grasp the metal pin and pull it out or snap it off.

When using this method, it is important to be cautious when pulling or snapping the brittle pin. Be sure to cushion your hand with some gloves or a towel. This will help to protect you from the cold and the pin itself.

Precautions To Take When Removing a Security Tag

When attempting to remove a security tag at home, it is important to take precautions to ensure your own safety and also to protect the garment.

Make sure to consider the following factors before removing a security tag.

  • Safety – Always protect your hands with gloves when using sharp or heavy tools.
  • Garment protection – Ensure the garment is secured and won’t be damaged during the tag removal process.
  • Fire risk – Avoid methods that involve burning or melting the tag, as these can be hazardous and damage the garment.
  • Correct methods – Make sure you are using the method that is suited to the particular type of security tag you are working with. Anything else could cause harm to both you and the garment.
  • Check your surroundings – If you are attempting to break or pull off a security tag, there is always a chance it can fly out at you. Be sure you have cleared the surrounding area and are leaning away from the tag.
  • Call the store - If you don’t want to drive down to the store try giving them a call and ask the employees on how they recommend removing the tag.

If you have any concerns regarding safety when removing a security tag at home, it is best to leave it to the professionals. Take the item into a store or contact a security tag removal service to tackle this challenge for you.

Professional Security Tag Removal Services

If you are unable or unwilling to remove a security tag yourself, there are security tag removal services out there that may be able to do this for you.

These services often own a range of tools that can remove different types of security tags. The tools that these services provide are generally unavailable to the public and require verification to prove that the person purchasing them is a real business.

Many people will turn to these types of services if they have bought a valuable item online and it has arrived with a security tag on it. This is a great alternative if you are unable to return to the store at which you initially brought the item to have them remove the security tag.

Legal Consequences For Unauthorized Security Tag Removal

Remember that it’s illegal to remove security tags from anything that you have not purchased yourself.

There can be serious consequences for unauthorized security tag removal, such as fines, penalties, and even criminal charges and jail time.

If you are planning on removing a security tag from clothing at home, only do so if it is on an item that you purchased yourself. At the end of the day, the risk and potential penalties for this crime far outweigh the reward.

about the author

Clay Cary
Senior Trends Analyst
As an e-commerce analyst at CouponFollow, Clay enjoys spending his time collaborating with brands to make helpful content for consumers and finding great deals to share on CouponFollow. As a recent college graduate, his primary focus is creating resources for consumers, especially students, to save money through online shopping and everyday life.