Quick! Cover that wall clock! Or that weird looking bonzai tree placed on top of your bed cabinet. Before you realize, some naked Russian dude might be using Airbnb hidden cameras to spy on you.
In the last few years, there have been some cases of Airbnb hidden cameras found by tourists. Having said that, I do not think that this should stop you from using Airbnb altogether (by the way if you want help on booking, check out this article).
Rather you should simply be more attentive to the possible existence of these hidden cameras.
1. How to find Airbnb hidden cameras
There are a couple of precautionary measures which can be taken to avoid being filmed secretly. I have listed the main measures below:
1.1 Look for objects which seem out of place
If a host is secretly trying to film you, then he will need to place the camera at a certain angle to capture the images. Therefore, it makes sense to look for objects that seem redundant or out of place.
For example, if there are two smoke detectors on the ceiling next to one another, then chances are one of them is actually a hidden camera. Another example would be a wall clock in the bedroom that faces directly at the bed. As most bedrooms do not have wall clocks, I suggest you investigate the object in more detail.
Pro tip: The majority of hidden cameras are typically cleverly concealed in items such as alarm clocks, wall clocks, smoke detectors, plants, mirrors, light bulbs, speakers, and even USB wall plugs. If you come across any of these objects, perhaps it would be a good idea to take a closer look and see if you can spot a lens. Please be reminded that this is not an exhaustive list of objects, as there are always new and stealthier cameras being created.
1.2 Shine a flashlight to pick up the reflection of lenses
Lenses from hidden cameras are usually made out of glass.
Glass is highly reflective.
Flashlights can make you spot reflective materials.
I think you can already connect the dots now…
A clever way to try and find a hidden camera is by using your smartphone flashlight (or any flashlight to be honest). What you first need to do is to turn off all the lights in the room you will inspect. Then take your smartphone and shine the flashlight around every corner of the room. When doing that you will need to be on the lookout for any small bright flash of light being reflected back at you. If you find a flash coming from an object, examine the said item thoroughly as you may have found a hidden camera.
I would say that this is a hit and miss approach that requires some practice. Yet, the only time I ever found a hidden camera in an Airbnb was using this method.
1.3 Use Wi-Fi sniffing apps to check for networks
Nowadays, most hidden cameras are connected to wifi. Therefore, one way of detecting if there is a hidden camera in the property is by using wifi sniffing apps such as Network Scanner by Fing for both iOS and Android. This app will basically show you all the devices that are connected to the wifi (in this case your Airbnb).
If you check the app and see a device that is connected to the network that you cannot identify or that has a weird name (e.g. IPCAMERA), there might be a hidden camera in the property.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that not all hidden cameras need to be connected to wifi to operate (e.g. some cameras record to an SD card). Therefore, you cannot assume that there are no hidden cameras if the app does not detect an extra device connected to the network. Also, if the host is really clever, he would have set a private network solely for this hidden camera, making it impossible for the app to detect it.
1.4 Use a hidden camera scanner device
The last and perhaps most effective solution is to invest in a small and inexpensive device that can assist you in the process of finding hidden cameras. Despite their small size, these devices do a good job of finding almost any sort of wireless signal that hidden cameras send out. Simply point its antenna at objects around the house, if the device makes a noise you might have found something.
This method is definitely for the more privacy-sensitive nomads.
Would I go around with a hidden camera scanner device myself? Probably not.
Does that mean you shouldn’t? Hell no. I can totally conceive scenarios where it is totally justifiable for someone to want to really make sure there are no hidden cameras on an Airbnb.
Maybe you are a famous person… maybe you are planning to do some major non-family friendly activity there… Who am I to say?
2. What to do if you find Airbnb hidden cameras?
We got one, boys
If you are unsure about an object, the rule of thumb is to investigate it further. If after you take a closer look at the object you are still unable to establish the existence of hidden camera, then, as a precautionary measure, I would unplug it from the wall (if applicable) or cover the item with a cloth or towel.
However, if you are sure or strongly believe that you have spotted a hidden camera, please contact Airbnb immediately. It is obviously against the law and Airbnb’s terms of conditions to have hidden cameras in a property.
The best way to contact Airbnb is to call this phone number: +1-855-424-7262. Alternatively, you can send a message to Airbnb’s customer support team through Airbnb’s website or app.
Moreover, you can try to get a refund.
B: Hey hello welcome to nomad tactics podcast here provide life optimizing tips and systems for digital nomads I host B. and I'm joined by the co host Jack.
B: The topic we gonna talk about today is how to find hidden cameras on your Airbnb or any other type of accommodation.
B: I would start with a quick summary of the episode.
B: First minister Jack gonna talk about where this topic fits in our broader digital nomad life system.
B: After that we're gonna talk about the main methods in which you can use to find hidden cameras on Airbnb.
B: Finally me and Mister Jack going to discuss what to do if you find a hidden camera in your Airbnb I hope you enjoy the the episode
Jack: Hey hello Mister B..
B: Hello Jack.
Jack: So the topic of the day is how to spot hidden cameras with an Airbnb or other similar rental property.
B: Yes any sort of accommodation I think the advice here would be relevant.
Jack: Yeah so what we mean by hidden cameras is like a camera hidden in the plain site you could be a camera within the clock, bonsai tree.
B: Yeah whatever is like just the camera that the owner of the property puts there to try to record you while you're there.
Jack: Yeah so we decided to this topic because in the last few years there have been some incidents of people finding out they are hidden cameras within the Airbnb they're living in having said that I don't think they should stop you from using Airbnb.
B: I mean it's still something quite rare me personally I know off one incident of someone that does happen but it's something quite rare but anyway it's quite important to cover I think there's going to be come more and more of an issue because cameras are getting smaller and smaller.
B: And any and actually this is a problem in certain parts of the world so I heard for example Korea is a country that's kind of a big issue.
B: So depending where you are maybe you should be careful more.
Jack: So we decide to do this topic is because we want to raise awareness of their such issue exists within Airbnb so before we go into the main topic we should probably places topic within the digital nomad life system.
Jack: and for people don't know what the system is is basically a sister up system aims to help people going from a normal life into a optimize digital normal life.
Jack: So where would you put this topic within which step of our system.
B: So I think the topic today would clearly fit the fourth step of the system want to be called a arriving process so the writing process basically is the step where when a digital nomad get to his new base in other words the city in which he will be living in.
B: He will need to do certain actions to make sure his whole stay gonna be' smooth so you would say that once you get your new base perhaps the first thing I'm gonna do is to do the check in process in your Airbnb and we have a podcast episode that exclusively talk about that all the steps you should do there in the check in process and I would say that once the host is gone let's say you could perhaps go to this step if you think that's relevant to you if you are afraid of hidden cameras in other words once they host is gone from the property during the check in.
B: You should look for the cameras.
Jack: I see so the that's going to the main topic today how to find the hidden cameras so we divide the topic into two of the first we're gonna introduce four ways to find the hidden cameras.
B: That more or less go from simpler methods to more sophisticated methods.
Jack: And the second part of the episode is going to be what if you find a hidden camera within your Airbnb what should do so Mr B. what would you say would be the first way to find hidden cameras within your Airbnb?
B: So the first approach is perhaps the simplest approach and that simply is to look look around the place look for objects that seem to be out of place.
B: So if your host and you're trying to secretly film someone then you need to place a camera in a certain angle to capture the images right.
B: Therefore it makes sense to you to look for objects that seem to be out of place or objects that are redundant for example if they are to smoke detectors in the ceiling next to one another the chances that one of them is a hidden camera is quite considerable because there's no point to simply put two smoke detectors another example would be a wall clock in the bedroom that directly faces the bad at least in my experience is most bedrooms don't have wall clocks like that so I would suggest you to investigate such thing the majority of hidden cameras are typically very cleverly hidden in items such as alarm clocks wall clocks smoke detectors planes mirrors things like that it's very hard to come up with extensive list right.
B: Because they are always coming up with a new way to hide a camera so even if we sat a bunch of objects here in the couple for years these would be in the end completely off.
B: But the general point that we are trying to make here is that if you come across any type of object that seems to be like out of place or weird there's just something off about it you should take a closer look at the object and see if you can spot any really small lens on it by doing this kind of inspection you gonna be able to spot the hidden camera potentially.
Jack: Okay so going on to the second method of finding the hidden camera is to shine a flashlight to pick up the reflection of the lens.
B: Yes so lenses including the lenes from hidden cameras are usually made out of glass.
B: Glass is highly reflective type of material and such sites can make you spot reflective materials I think you can already connect the dots here.
B: I'm the second method is when you use your smartphone flashlight or any sort of flashlight to be honest and you try to spot the hidden camera so what I'm gonna do here is to turn off all the lights in the room you want to inspect after that you take your smartphone turn on the flashlight and start to go around every little corner and every little object of the room if you see any sort of small bright flash of light being reflected back at you perhaps you have found the lens of hidden camera so you should get the object and examine very closely to see if indeed is a lens or not.
B: I would say that this type of method this kind of hit and miss because it's not that practical to to go around the darkroom but it's true that if you find glass somewhere and if you're a bit lucky you gonna be able to spot the lens of the hidden camera so I don't know I heard about this method I tried myself a couple of times just to test it out and it's kind of hard but anyway to make the list comprehensive we are putting it here.
Jack: I see so the next one is using wifi sneezing apps to check for networks.
B: Yes so basically this third method relies on the assumption that most hidden camera nowadays are connected to wifi.
B: Therefore one way of detecting if there is a hidden camera in the property is by using what is called a wifi sniffing app one app that I know about is called at the network scanner by Fing and is available for both iOS and android this app will basically show you all the devices that are connected to the wifi in this case in your Airbnb.
B: So what you gonna do is to launch the app and check all the devices that are connected to the same lifeline which you're using your Airbnb if you check the app and you see a device that is connected to the network that you cannot identify or that has a weird name like EPAC camera Dan there might be a hidden camera in the property.
B: But also keep in mind that not all hidden cameras need to be connected to the wifi to operate some cameras for example record everything into a SD card and then in such case the owner would you know only get the images once you leave the property.
B: Therefore you cannot assume that if there is no extra device connected to the network you surely do not have any hidden camera in the property and also if the hosts were really clever he would have said the private network solely for the hidden camera making it impossible for you to the tact any device because it wouldn't be connected to the same wifi that you are in the first place.
Jack: Yes so the last method is use a hidden camera scanner devices.
B: Sold the last method is perhaps the most effective solution and at the same time the most extreme solution to find hidden cameras and as you said this method involves investing in a small and inexpensive device that can assist you in the process of finding hidden cameras I have sinned this type of device I've believe only once in my life a friend of mine has and these devices according to him to do a good job in finding any sort off wireless signal that a device is sending out and this includes hidden cameras of course the way to use this kind of device is to simply point it's antenna around the objects in the house and if the device makes a noise it is telling you that there's some sort of signal being sent out there this method is that phonetically only for the more privacy sensitive digital nomads.
B: Me personally I would not go around carrying such type of device but it's just good to know if you need this more professional solution it's available.
Jack: Yes so going to the last part of of this episode is what to do if you find a hidden camera within the Airbnb.
B: So in order to answer you Mister Jack I gonna tell you what would I do if I'm uncertain if I found a hidden camera or not and what would I do if I'm almost certain I found a hidden camera so if you aren't sure about an object at least to be the best rule of thumb is to investigate it further.
B: If after you take a closer look at the object you are still unable to establish if there is a hidden camera Dan as a precautionary measure I would plug it off the wall or cover it somehow with a towel or some sort of cloth however if you are pretty much sure you have spotted the hidden camera the thing you need to do is to contact Airbnb immediately is obviously against the law and Airbnb terms of conditions to have any sort of hidden camera in the property especially in the private areas like the bathroom.
B: And the best way to contact Airbnb is to you know use their phone number we gonna put it in the show description or also by the Airbnb app you can contact the customer service team and of course you're going to get every found for Airbnb is they stop bush that indeed you found a hidden camera they're going to help you to get a new place to stay and on top of all of that if it's true and you found a hidden camera the host probably going to be banned for life.
Jack: So this is the end of the episode if you guys enjoy this episode's please make sure to leave a review on your listening platform we Nomad Tactics are still a new podcast so every review is a great help to our growth thank you for listening.
B: Thank you.
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