There’s a lot to think about when you’re staying in a stranger’s house. Will they kill me? Is it OK to eat lunch in my bedroom so I don’t have to talk to them? And are there hidden cameras waiting to catch me naked?
There’s no surefire way to be sure your place is camera-free, but here are the steps you can try:
Use a torch
Turn off the lights in the room, and shine a torch (your phone’s will do). Look for light glinting off a camera lens. According to Digital Trends, this will help you spot lenses that are otherwise hidden in shadow.
Open all the drawers and cabinets
Many spying devices are tiny, but some need a little bit of space to hold their guts. Drawers, cabinets and cubbies are worth checking.
Folks have found devices hiding in all sorts of places, but they’re rarely invisible; sometimes a bugged alarm clock, say, just looks kind of weird. Does something have a lump or extra part you wouldn’t expect? A hole you can’t explain? Take a closer look.
Check the network
If a device is using Wi-Fi to send its data back to your sleazy host, it’s sometimes possible to detect that data as it flies through the air. We’ve suggested a script that you can run from your computer to find Wi-Fi cameras, and even send them a signal to turn off. (There are also apps claiming to do the same.)
Looking for hidden cameras is a tough job no matter what. There’s no guarantee that if one is there you’ll detect it (with this script or otherwise), so turning up empty may not reassure you much. And if your script catches a possible camera but you can’t find it, you may not be able to tell whether it’s in your apartment or the neighbours’.
What do I do if I find a hidden camera?
Airbnb policy says that hosts must disclose the presence of any surveillance devices in the House Rules, and they must tell you whether they’re actively recording. (Guests are forbidden from setting up any devices to spy on hosts.)
If your rental has cameras, Airbnb says you can cancel your reservation for a full refund.