You fight with the code on the front of the rented vacation house, and finally, get it unlocked. As you stumble into the house with your bags, you breathe a sigh of relief
But, before you can use the bathroom, you should probably check for hidden cameras.
While we want to believe that most people are good and kind, there have been too many stories of vacation renters finding hidden cameras in the bathrooms or bedrooms.
It is difficult to identify a hidden camera. That smoke detector? It might be a video camera. That USB phone charger the homeowner left for you? It might be watching you while you sleep.
High tech surveillance cameras are everywhere and provide high definition footage from a pinpoint lens.
Surveillance cameras are cheap and can be purchased by anyone. In America, there are some state laws regarding how video is recorded. For example, a hidden recording device should not have both image and audio recording. Reputable American sites like SpyCentre, only sell legal recording equipment and bug sweepers.
However, it is easy to purchase surveillance tools with audio recording from international suppliers, and unless the user happens to be caught and prosecuted, it is going to be nearly impossible to deter widespread use of these illegal recording devices.
Because there is little definitive evidence linking a device with a specific perpetrator, it is very difficult to prosecute.
As a result, we only hear of a handful of successful cases each year. Generally, the greatest success comes in the form of a refund and the house host being removed from whatever vacation platform on which their house was listed.
For the renter, a good protection system is lacking.
This means it is up to the traveler to protect themselves. The enemy? A tiny surveillance device with a lens the size of a pinhead.
While other travelers are trying a system that suggests using their cell phone to find the hidden camera, let me introduce you to the hidden camera detectors that professional private investigators use.
Professional Hidden Camera Detectors
When a wife suspects that her abusive husband is spying on her at work, a private investigator has the tools to “sweep for bugs” and find the hidden recording devices.
We call this “counter-espionage.”
A bug sweeper has an antenna with a range of frequencies that it can scan the room at. This helps you find the threats that are actively transmitting. The RF signal finder can help you uncover those wifi and radio signals that are most commonly used for transmitting signals.
If there is a wifi-connected lens hidden in the picture frame, a good bug sweeper should sniff that out.
However, there are many devices that record silently to an SD card and hold the images for later retrieval.
These insidious devices are a little harder to find.
To combat these specific threats, the bug sweeper has a colored lens, surrounded by LED lights.
You hold the lens up to your eye and activate the infrared LED lights. This setup helps you to see the reflection from the lenses of hidden recording devices instantly.
Additionally, night vision video recording requires the use of infrared light. Turning off all of the lights in the room and then sweeping will further increase your chances of finding any night vision equipped recorders since you can see the infrared light it puts off.
A dedicated hidden camera finder increases your chances of finding the most well-hidden cameras.
When you sweep a room, turn off the lights and pay close attention to all areas of the room. Cameras are often disguised as clocks, pens, USB chargers, USB memory sticks, Wall sockets, Digital TV boxes, DVD Cases, Books or Desk Plants.
They may hide two devices near each other so that the infrared signal from the one hides the other.
Also, look for any blinking lights in the room. Sometimes there is a small light on the device that turns on to inform you if it is recording.
Most all-in-one professional hidden camera finders will combine all of these features into one tool. This allows you to quickly sweep the room for each signal type and ensure your privacy. They also find hidden microphones.
It also means that even when you are extremely tired, you can quickly do a professional sweep and verify that your privacy and safety remain intact for your stay.
How To Detect Hidden Cameras With Your Phone
Similarly, the occasional traveler will appreciate this hack for finding hidden cameras without spending a lot of money.
The idea is that you can find networked cameras in your area. Start by looking for wifi devices you can connect to in your phone’s wifi section.
If there is a networked device, you may be able to locate it.
Unfortunately, most phones cannot be used to see infrared light since the manufacturers add a physical filter to their lens to hide it.
(After all, most of us don’t want our images mottled with infrared).
There are some apps that claim to use your phone’s camera to detect infrared. The accuracy of these apps will rely on whether your phone is able to see infrared or whether there is a filter installed.
Check The Mirrors
One-way mirrors are a unique threat. You want to check all areas of the mirror closely for any pinhole spots where a small camera can be in use.
Additionally, use the fingernail test:
Put your finger to the mirror
Observe that there is a gap between your fingernail and its reflection.
If your finger is touching its reflection it indicates that you are looking at a one-way mirror.
Hidden Camera Detectors For The Business Traveler
Voyeurism is on the rise. In 2016, South Korea found thousands of hidden recorders in bathroom stalls throughout the country.
Hundreds of people lost their privacy to individuals looking to make a quick buck selling bathroom footage.
While most of us won’t bother sweeping public bathrooms for spy devices, a vacation rental is a slightly more intimate place, and it deserves the extra effort and investment to ensure your privacy.