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4 Ways of Detecting Hidden Cameras in Your Airbnb

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You’ve packed the car, gassed up, researched bars and eateries, and you’re ready for a stress-free weekend in your Airbnb. Unfortunately, your home or apartment for the weekend may not be as private as you think. There have been a number of complaints by Airbnb guests—across the world— about hidden cameras actively recording guests.

Airbnb’s policy about this controversial issue is clear: recording with hidden cameras is prohibited. But with over 6 million Airbnb listings worldwide, regulating this is impossible. To make matters worse, 13.45% of safety-related issues are caused by unsafe or unpleasant conditions like hidden cameras, according to iPropertyManagement.

There are several simple ways that anyone can locate rogue hidden cameras without having James Bond on your side.

1. Do a Sweep for Strange, Out-of-Place Electronics

Believe it or not, many wireless cameras are simply hiding in plain sight. After settling in, take a thorough look around the entire apartment or house—bathrooms and bedrooms included.

Keep your eyes peeled for objects that are especially bulky, and stand out in a particular room. For example, an off-color wall charger should catch your eye. Your host probably wouldn’t leave a handbag astray on the bedroom floor, either.

Spy cameras can also be disguised as a number of other commonplace household objects, including:

  • Alarm clocks
  • Wall-mounted clocks
  • Smoke detectors
  • Mirrors
  • Light bulbs
  • Speakers
  • Outlets
  • Neckties and tie clips
  • Pens

If a charger or alarm clock is pointing directly at a shower or bed, then be sure to investigate. Covert cameras are more than likely pointing where people would be standing– the angle should be the biggest tell.

2. Detecting Hidden Cameras With a Flashlight

Shining your flashlight through every room in your Airbnb is another great way to detect covert cameras.

Surveillance equipment companies primarily manufacture cameras with a similar plastic material that resembles normal household items. However, to preserve the quality of the recording or stream, the lens itself must be made of glass.

Glass surfaces, including wireless camera lenses, are reflective. If there are any spy cameras in the unit, the glass lens should reflect the light back.

There are two important things to remember when you check for hidden cameras with your flashlight. First, be sure to turn off the lights so that you can see any minor reflection. Second, move slowly and be thorough— spy cameras are meant to stay hidden, and can be quite small.

3. Check for Hidden Devices with Wi-Fi Sniffing Apps

While cutting-edge cameras are designed to blend right in, modern technology has also made it possible to find hidden cameras without disrupting your Netflix session. Wi-Fi sniffing apps can help you find recording devices in your Airbnb that are connected to the local network.

In order for the host to watch guests on a live stream, wireless cameras must be connected to the internet. If you’re willing to take the extra step, these advanced connectivity features are a dead giveaway.

Once you connect to your host’s Wi-Fi network, you can use a Wi-Fi sniffing app to determine if there are other connected devices. Many of these apps, like Fing, are smartphone-compatible. Scanning the new network to find other devices, including hidden cameras, is as simple as the click of a button.

However, keep in mind that there are bound to be a few non-recording devices connected, too. Smart TVs, for example, require an internet connection to access streaming apps like Netflix. Fing allows you to dig even deeper by providing the MAC address of the device. Once you find another device, enter the MAC address on MacVendorLokup.com.

This helpful website will help you identify the objects, and if necessary, take the next steps.

4. RF Detector

Fing works wonders in finding hidden camera devices connected to the primary network. The trouble here? Rogue Airbnb hosts may have connected their spy cameras to a second private network for precisely this reason. In these situations, RF (radio frequency) detectors can come in handy.

Wireless devices operate via radio frequencies, so RF detectors can easily locate hidden camera devices. These handheld devices are a foolproof way to know, with absolute confidence, if there are covert cameras in the unit. They’re easy to operate, and alert you of signals by beeping. Like metal detectors, RF detectors beep increasingly louder and more often as you approach your target.

While this method is slightly more expensive, it’s the only way to know with certainty that you’ve found the culprit. The investment is well worth it for wary travelers, especially those planning to visit another Airbnb soon. We sell several RF detectors that are designed to help people locate recording devices, without requiring strong technical expertise.

What to Do After Finding Hidden Airbnb Cameras

So, you found the camera. What’s your next move?

That all depends on how you want to proceed. If you feel compelled to do so, then contact the local authorities to report the incident.

You should also alert Airbnb about this violation– and prevent others from walking into the same situation. As we mentioned earlier, Airbnb’s policy expressly prevents hidden cameras and recording devices, so passing this information along helps other people remain safe.

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