Warning: Your Hotel Room Could Have Hidden Cameras. Here’s How to Spot Them

People have access to all kinds of camouflaged cameras on ecommerce platforms, available as charging bricks, smoke detectors, and alarm clocks. The product description will refer to the camera as a “security device.”

If your question is ‘are cameras allowed in hotel rooms?’ the answer is no. But, hostels, hotel rooms, and Airbnb rentals are vulnerable to planted hidden cameras.

IPX1031, a property investment company, surveyed 2,000 Americans. All the surveyed individuals have stayed in an Airbnb at least once. They arrived at the following conclusion on analyzing the survey:

  • 11% of guests found a hidden camera in their Airbnb rental.
  • 58% of guests were afraid that there might be a hidden camera in the Airbnb room they had rented.

These routine objects could house a tiny camera…

• Power outlets• Screws & nails
• Clocks• USB drives
• Power banks• Pens
• Picture frames• Paintings
• Vents• Mirrors
• Decorations• Smoke detectors
• Night lamps• Clothes hanger
• Digital TV boxes• DVD cases

The next time you rent a room, you’ll know what to check for.

8 Reliable Techniques to Sniff Out Hidden Cameras

1. Look for the giveaways

Use your observational skills to look for objects that seem out of place in your room. Any device that is already plugged into the socket, and devices that seem to be pointed unusually towards your bed are examples of items that are out of place.

Look for any stray wires emerging from appliances. These wires might power a remote recording device. Inspect the appliance.

2. Look for lenses

Turn off the lights in your room and use a flashlight to look for reflections. Cameras use lenses, and lenses produce a reflection when you flash a light on them. You can detect even the tiniest lens using this method. You’ll need a keen eye to look for these reflections.

3. Cover or disconnect any suspicious object

If you doubt any object, but are not sure if it has a hidden camera, cover it with a towel or put it in a drawer. Also, unplug any device that you suspect. Hidden cameras usually need a power source to function, and cutting that off can be effective.

4. Be vigilant about two-way mirrors

Don’t forget to check for two-way mirrors. Two-way mirrors reflect light on one side, and are tinted windows on the other side. There could be an entire room behind the mirror, and you might not see it. To check if a mirror is two-way, you can do two simple tests:

Test #1. Shine a flashlight through the mirror from different angles. You’re looking for odd flashes and reflections from it. If it is a two-way mirror, you will see the light shining on the other side of the mirror.

Test #2. Do the nail test to figure out if the mirror is two-way. Even though this test is not absolutely accurate, you can use your finger to see if the mirror is two-way.

Place your finger on the mirror surface and look for a gap between your finger and the reflecting surface. If you see no gap, there is a high chance that the mirror is two-way.

Although neither of these tests is 100% accurate, the first one is more effective than the second.

5. Use your mobile phone to detect any interference

Many people don’t know how to detect hidden cameras in hotel rooms using mobile phones. Radio signals emitted by hidden cameras can sometimes interfere with cellular signals. You can use this property to detect any hidden cameras by walking around the room while on a call. The interference will increase as you move closer to the hidden camera.

6. Try hidden camera detector apps and network scanners

You can get a network scanning app to look for any devices on the same network as you.

But, if the person who set up the hidden camera has used a different network, you will not be able to use this technique to find it. A network scanning app is also redundant against hidden cameras that have a local storage device.

7. Use a thermal imaging camera

You can use a thermal imaging (IR) camera to check for hidden cameras. All electrical devices emit heat, and IR cameras will be able to pick up on this heat. Point the camera around the room and look for any hotspots. If you find any unusual hotspots, contact the hotel management.

8. Get a camera detector            

Search for an “RF signal detector” on Amazon. RF signal detectors can find frequencies of radio waves that hidden cameras emit. Please understand that other devices can set an RF detector off, like cellular devices, laptops, and any device with a Bluetooth transmitter. Make sure you switch such devices off before using the RF signal detector.

Exploit this vulnerability to detect any hidden cameras.

What to do if you find a hidden camera?

If you find a hidden camera, the first thing you should do is call the authorities. You could also contact your local law enforcement agency and ask them for advice.

Also, make sure that no one destroys the evidence before the law enforcement officials get there. 

Although it is okay to be vigilant, do not be paranoid about hidden cameras. You can prevent any incidents by following the methods suggested in the above sections. Look for cameras when you are in a rented space, unplug charging bricks provided by the hotel, and cover or put away any suspicious devices.

If you are uncomfortable staying in a room due to a suspected device, do not hesitate to ask for a different room, or a refund so that you can stay elsewhere. If the hotel is unwilling to offer a refund, you can contact your travel insurance provider. You may be able to file a claim that allows you some form of reimbursement for being forced to find other accommodations due to no fault of your own if covered by your policy. Not every travel insurance policy offers the same coverage, so read through yours carefully before making a purchase. 

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