How to Find Hidden Cameras in Your Airbnb, and Anywhere Else

In late March 2019, a variety of travelers reported finding hidden cameras in their Airbnb accommodations. A camera was found in an alarm clock and in another location a guest found a tiny camera mounted inside a smoke detector. The likelihood that someone is spying on you is low, but if you have some suspicions these tips and tools can help you find most hidden cameras.

To be fair, Airbnb is not the only company having this problem (and in their case, they are not able to fully control their rental providers, even if their contract and rules forbid such privacy-invasive practices). Southwest Airlines was in the news a few months, fully denying that a pilot used a hidden camera in the aircraft bathroom. Large medical facilities, public restrooms, and a host of other locations have complaints where hidden cameras appear to be in use. Often, local law enforcement officials are called as monitoring others without their permission is against the law.

Five Tips For Finding And Dealing With Any Hidden Camera

#1: Dial up your observation skills. Does an alarm clock look out of place on a shelf? Take a close look at that smoke detector. 

According to Reolink, makers of a variety of web security cameras, in a blog entitled: How to Detect Hidden Cameras Within Minutes? provides a number of great suggestions on the “Most Common Places to Find Hidden Cameras Indoors.”

  • Smoke detectors
  • Air filter equipment
  • Books
  • Wall décor
  • Electrical outlets
  • Desk plants
  • Tissue boxes
  • Stuffed teddy bears
  • Couch cushions, table tops, and shelves
  • DVD cases
  • Lava lamps
  • Digital TV boxes
  • Wall sockets
  • Hairdryer holders
  • Wall or alarm clocks
  • Clothes hooks
  • Pens

#2: Turn off the lights and use your smartphone flashlight to scan the room. Most camera lenses, even tiny ones, reflect light. So a light would create a reflection off the camera lens. 

#3: Get a network scanning app to find all the devices on a network. Of course, if the person setting up a hidden camera puts it on another network, you likely will not find it. The best free and highly rated apps for scanning networks and finding cams: Fing for iOS and Fing for Android. One warning on the search for cameras via network scans — some small cams record straight to a SIM card, so they won’t show on a network scan. The two Wyze cams that I have written about before both offer the option to record direct to a small micro-SD card instead of over the wifi and cloud, but they are from a typical secret cam.

For those interested, travel bloggers, Andrew and Nealie Barker, shared an in-depth post: How to increase your chances of finding a hidden camera that highlights ways to protect yourself and the post includes lots of photos of tiny cameras. 

#4: Unplug any suspicious device or cover them with a towel or stuff them into a drawer. 

#5: Buy a professional, dedicated spy camera-finding device. A quick search on Amazon for the product term: “RF signal detector” will bring up a wide range. The Feeke “Anti Spy Detector” is an RF signal detector that lists for roughly $60. These devices do not appear to be widely reviewed or purchased by regular consumers, but it might be an option for you if these other methods and resources do not suffice.

As cameras get smaller, with longer battery life, and access to wireless networks, you can expect that more spying will take place. Common sense and these tips should help you protect yourself.

Update: Airbnb shared this link:Balancing Security and Privacy – Airbnb’s Policies on Security Devices. In the post, it clearly highlights that hidden cameras are against their policies and the first point makes it super clear: “Security devices that are meant to be ‘hidden’ are always prohibited — even if they’re disclosed in advance.”

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