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How to check if your Airbnb has hidden cameras

It’s creepy to think that your Airbnb host or hotel owner has installed a hidden camera and could be watching you the entire time. When your privacy is invaded and there’s almost no way to reverse it.

Am I being overly paranoid? nope. We have seen time and time again stories in the media showing how people were filmed during their stay without their knowledge. In South Korea, 1600 people were filmed in their rooms and the footage was live-streamed to customers who paid to watch. So being a bit paranoid is healthy.

One of the first things I do when I get to my hotel room or to my Airbnb accommodation is to take a moment to look around for cameras.

Common Hiding Places

First off, you’ll want to look for gadgets that can resemble a camera like motion sensors and smoke detectors. Cameras can easily be hidden in “plain sight” and these are perfect hiding places.
Grab a chair and have a close look. Do these devices have a memory card slot? If they do – its a camera.
Another popular camera disguise is in an alarm clock. Its 2019 at the time of writing this and we don’t really use alarm clocks anymore since we have our phones. What I would do is disconnect any bedside clock and shove it in the drawer. If you can’t do that, place a book/ magazine in front of it.

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Infrared Scan

Cameras that can record at night will have an infrared sensor so they can “see” in the dark. What I do is switch off the lights, grab my phone and launch the camera. I then scan the room with the camera app and look for any light. An Infrared sensor will look like a pulsating purple light.

These pics were taken with the cell phone camera of my home’s camera. As soon as I turn off the lights, I see the infrared lights:

camera purple light exposed camera purple light detected

You can also download some Hidden Camera app from the store – I can not vouch for their effectiveness. Some seem rudimentary at best, while others use the phone’s magnetic sensors to detect anomalies.

WiFi Scan

A spy camera will need to transmit its images which is usually done via the WiFi. Connect to the Airbnb’s wifi with your phone and download a network scanner app from the app store. The network scanner will identify all devices connected to the WiFi. If you find a camera, then there’s a risk it could be located in your room.
I will say that Airbnb host can have security cameras to monitor the property so don’t panic. Take a thorough look first and even ask the host if they have a camera installed for security. Ask to see the security monitor which any legitimate host should have no problem showing you. If they are evasive, I would question why.

Touch and Feel

Cameras that run on AC power can get physically hot. Objects in your room that seem hot for no obvious reason should alert you that they might be cameras.

Check any USB adaptors that are plugged into the power outlet and follow any wires that seem to be connected from the power socket and are mysteriously vanishing behind shelves or bookcases.

So in summary

Trust your gut. when you meet your Airbnb host, if you get those weirdo-vibes, then be extra cautious. If the host is too friendly and touchy and makes inappropriate comments be wary. Read the reviews on Airbnb before you book and run a Google search to see if there are any complaints or reports filed against the host.

Again, this is NOT just an Airbnb issue. Hidden cameras can be placed in change rooms at the gym, toilets, hospitals, parks and even major brand hotel chains.
There is no definitive way to know for sure if there is a camera. A really determined and technically skilled creep will be able to hide their cameras in ways that only professional detectors could find.

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