Shopper's 'creepy' find in new underwear bought online

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·3-min read

A shopper who bought underwear online was concerned after she found a small microchip sewn inside the garment. 

The woman claimed she bought maternity clothing and postpartum compression underwear from online retailer SHEIN when she noticed the additional feature after it was delivered. 

"Am I being tracked for buying maternity clothes and postpartum compression panties?" she asked people in a Facebook group dedicated to sharing weird finds. 

It is believed the chip found in the garment is an RFID tag. Source: Facebook
It is believed the chip found in the garment is an RFID tag. Source: Facebook

While some suggested it was an RFID tag which could be used for tracking and tracing purposes or contain information about the garment, other said it was "scary".

Many commented saying RFID tags were commonly used to track items and prevent theft, and one said it was "disturbing" it had been sewn into the garment rather than it being attached to a tag or packaging. 

"I have never seen anything like this," one commented. 

'How creepy," another said.

Truth behind chip in underwear

Strategic supply chain management lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, Dr Moira Scerri, told Yahoo News Australia there were two types of RFID tags. 

"One of the tags has information stored on it about the product, like a barcode, and the other one has a small battery on it – a transponder – that can read and respond," she said. 

"A lot of companies have been using them – in supermarkets they are on a lot of razor blades and anything that is of high risk of theft.

"It's also used in the supply chain for track and trace capabilities so you always know where the good is."

In regards to concerns a person's location could be identified, Dr Scerri said if the chip did contain a transponder the item could be tracked if it was still sewn into the garment while you were wearing it. 

The small tag was found sewn into the garment. Source: Facebook
The small tag was found sewn into the garment. Source: Facebook

"Could if be used for tracking people if they are wearing that underwear, yes it could, but there are other ways people can be tracked like through their phones," she said. 

"I don't think it would be a privacy issue, it's more [companies] would use it for the supply chain as they move to e-commerce – and that makes sense – if you do a lot of e-commerce you want to know where your goods are at any time."

RFID technology could become more common

Dr Scerri added the RFID technology was expensive and it cost about $1 chip, but expected them to become more commonplace in the future if the price drops. 

"It definitely has its uses and it hasn't taken off as quickly as some people would have thought because of the cost," she said.

"They are becoming more and more common but because of the cost we haven't seen mass adoption – I think everyone is waiting for the cost to come down and to work out who is going to pay for them, whether that be the retailer, supplier or distributor."

SHEIN did not confirm to Yahoo News Australia what the item was sewn into the underwear, but rubbished claims it was an RFID tag. 

"SHEIN does not use any RFID or microchip tags in our product. Any assumption or accusation that the brand tracks its customers is absolutely false," a spokesperson said.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.