rfid faq 01

Q: What do I do if I find an RFID chip? Can I kill or disable it?
A: You can disable a chip for all practical purposes by disconnecting it from its antenna. It is usually pretty obvious where the chip is located in an RFID tag (all the antennas will run to it). Once you find the tiny black square you can use a pair of scissors or a knife to cut it off. To ensure that the tiny chip cannot later be read (assuming anyone could even find a device so small), you can puncture it with a straight pin, crush it, or pulverize it. (Note: While burning or microwaving can destroy a chip, we do not recommend these methods because of fire risk. See the Q & A below.) Do not try to “drown” it, since water does not generally destroy RFID chips. Running a magnet over the chip will not work, either.

Q: Can I microwave products to kill any hidden RFID tags they might contain?
A: While microwaving an RFID tag will destroy it (a microwave emits high frequency electromagnetic energy that overloads the antenna, eventually blowing out the chip), there is a good chance the the tag will burst into flames first. The difficulty of destroying a hidden RFID chip is one reason we need legislation making it illegal to hide a chip in an item in the first place.

Q: Are there some products that can’t be RFID chipped?
A: Items containing LIQUID or METAL are especially hard to chip. Liquids tend to absorb the electromagnetic energy needed to power the chip, while metal tends to reflect it and bounce it around in unpredictable ways. Both problems can cause interference in the RFID signal sent by a chip to the reader. These bugs are still being worked on. You can use this information about metal to your advantage. Has your store recently remodeled, replacing traditional metal shelving with new-fangled plastic shelves, to prevent interference with RFID transmission?

Q: Will a magnet erase an RFID chip?
A: No, the chips are not magnetically encoded. Running a magnet over the chip or using a tape eraser will not affect the chip.

Q: Can chips in clothing survive the washer and dryer?
A: Yes. Many RFID tags are designed to withstand years of normal wear and tear, including washing and drying. In fact, we know of at least one uniform rental company that uses RFID chips to keep track of its inventory. The chips hold up under the rough handling and commercial washings.