How to find hidden cameras in rented apartments

Travel often involves a lot of complications, and services like Airbnb solve at least one of the problems — finding and renting accommodation in an unfamiliar city. But very few people think about the risks to their privacy when they rent an apartment in their destination location.

As The Washington Post reports, there have been a lot of cases where an apartment owner has installed hidden surveillance cameras in bedrooms, bathrooms, and other inappropriate places. This article contains tips for detecting such devices.

Check suspicious electronics

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When you arrive at your rented accommodation, experts recommend paying attention to smoke detectors, radios, outlets, and any electronic devices placed in the private areas, like the bedroom and bathroom. Particular attention should be paid to those devices that have a view of the bed.

The spy cameras are often hidden inside ordinary objects such as alarm clocks, chargers, smoke detectors, and other electronics, the presence of which will not be suspicious to the guests. There are several ways to find the hidden cameras:

  • Shine a light onto the suspicious surfaces, like a watch face. This will help you see the lens usually hidden behind black matte plastic or a two-way mirror and invisible to the naked eye.
  • Turn off lights in your room and use the front-facing camera on your smartphone to look for the infrared LEDs used in night-vision cameras. The main camera will not do that because it is equipped with an IR filter.

Scan WiFi networks

Another important part of checking your apartment is to scan WiFi networks for suspicious devices. This method is not very reliable because the owner could change the name of their camera or not connect it to WiFi at all, but the check will not be a waste of time.

You can do network scanning using specialized software such as Network Scanner, Network Mapper, or Angry IP Scanner. There are hundreds of similar apps not only for computers but also for Android and iOS.

As a result of the scanning, the user gets a list of all devices connected to WiFi. But even if there is nothing with the name “IP camera” in it, it is better to check whether all devices are yours.

Thomas Ham, a founder of the professional TSCM company Spy Catchers, says that travelers can turn off an accommodation’s WiFi and router on arrival. If the host calls you about a problem, you can ask if there are any cameras in the room that you haven’t been told about.