Victoria’s Secret, the famous lingerie store, is once again facing accusations that its bras contain devices to track customers. Although the conspiracy was debunked back in June by Snopes, USA Today, Reuters, Business Insider and other news outlets, it has still been circulating on social media.
The item in question actually appears to be an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip, a device used for tagging merchandise and alerting store employees if someone walks out the door without having paid for it. According to the FDA, RFIDs are composed of tags and readers that emit radio waves and receive signals from one another. RFID tags that are passive do not need batteries and are powered by the readers.
Victoria’s Secret has said the company’s bras do use RFID chips, not devices that track customers, and the company has denied any participation in sex trafficking.
What Is the ‘Victoria’s Secret Bra Tracking Device’ Conspiracy About?
The accusations about Victoria’s Secret tracking people’s bras appear to have origins on social media.
On TikTok, a video received nearly three million likes after a woman said, “Today, I found out that Victoria’s Secret tracks you,” before peeling apart a tag and a strip with metal-colored bars she called a “chip.” Several commenters made fun of the woman who posted the video. “It’s a security sensor. Everyone knows that … 😂” one person wrote in the comments of the Tiktok video.
However, the idea that Victoria’s Secret was tracking its customers quickly caught on and became a sex trafficking accusation. Conspiracy theorists have accused Victoria’s Secret of placing trackers in bras to target people they want to turn into sex trafficking victims.
One person posted on Facebook that they believed Victoria’s Secret was trying to “buy people’s souls”:
… so the person who created and runs victoria secret buys people’s souls and he has something to do with the sex trafficking going on. did you know that if you cut your tag in half, there is a chip/tracker on the inside. if you don’t want to cut your tag to see, just put it up to the light. shocked (also tell me why the trackers are ONLY in bras and lingerie?? not shirts, sweatpants, ONLY lingerie)
This Isn’t the First Time the Conspiracy Has Surfaced
Like many other retailers, this technology helps us ensure we have the right products available for our customers. We only use this technology in our back room and sales floors to help us manage inventory so that our associates can efficiently support our customers’ needs.
— Victoria's Secret (@VictoriasSecret) July 1, 2020
Victoria’s Secret originally faced the allegations in June, when the first social media videos came out. Victoria’s Secret responded by issuing a statement to Business Insider and multiple other news sites:
Like many other retailers, this technology helps us deliver a great store experience by ensuring we have the right products available for our customers. We only use this technology in our back room and sales floors to help us manage inventory so that our associates can efficiently support our customers’ needs.
Snopes rated the claim of Victoria’s Secret tracking customers as false, pointing out that what is being called a “tracking device” is actually an RFID chip used to track inventory in a limited radius around a store. RFID chips are widely used by other major retailers and are supposed to help theft prevention; the chips set off an alarm if they pass through the exit without being removed or disarmed by an employee.
We rate the claim that Victoria’s Secret is tracking its buyers as FALSE. The company uses RFID technology to track inventory and it is used by many retailers. The company has confirmed the purpose of the technology and there is no evidence to prove that Victoria’s Secret is using the chips to track customers. The technology is an apparel clothing as well, not just lingerie, as users claim.