Today, hidden cameras represent a growing threat to personal privacy, especially in travel and tourism. Airbnb, one of the world's largest accommodation platforms, has recently had a spike in complaints of hosts installing hidden cameras in their guest suites to capture their renters on video. While most hosts are likely installing cameras to secure and protect their properties, being captured on video without consent is a complete invasion of your personal privacy, especially if the host has cameras in bathrooms or bedrooms. What's more is that today, cameras are so small that they can be easy to hide. In some cases, you could be captured on video without even knowing that it's happening. In the following article, we'll be taking a look at the importance of your personal privacy while traveling, as well as how you can spot hidden spy cameras to help ensure your personal safety and privacy no matter where you go. With that said, let's take a look at five of the best hidden-camera detectors that we've been selling for years. Then, we'll also discuss best practices for sweeping a room.
OUR BEST HIDDEN CAMERA DETECTORS
When it comes down to it, you just can't put a price on your privacy or personal safety, especially when it comes to traveling and staying in unfamiliar hotels, hostel dorms, or privately-owned Airbnb's.
As you'll see in this article, there is a preponderance of devices that are geared towards locating the physical location of a camera lens. A few will also find signals being transmitted in the area, but they may not tell you what type of signal it is that you're finding. But why might knowing the signal type be useful?
The term "bugging device" can encompass many types of electronics. Most bug detectors that are looking for wireless signals can pick up on wireless cameras, microphones, and even GPS trackers as long as they are currently transmitting their audio, video, or position to another location. A standard GPS tracker will use cellular signals to report its position, but there are some new ones that can bounce off of another phone's Bluetooth signal. Cameras and microphones that offer remote access could use WIFI signals, Bluetooth, or another method to get their information out of the area.
In the home, the Multi-Use RF Bug Detector can help in finding hidden cameras and combating their use by being able to tell the difference between a cellular and a WIFI signal. This bug detector can locate wireless signals like 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz, which most wireless cameras and bugs use. This bug sweeper even assists in finding a GPS tracking device on your vehicle since it can locate GSM/LTE IE, a cellular signal. Your level of response can be determined by what you find.
If you're finding a WIFI signal coming out of a clock or Bluetooth speaker and you're unsure if there is a camera in those devices, you can disconnect the WIFI and cut the transmitting signal. Then go back into the area and try to find the signals again. If you locate that signal, then a physical search of the devices will be necessary to determine if a camera or wireless bugging device is present. Some hidden cameras or microphones may be battery-powered, but unless they are cellular-based, signals should be transmitted further than a hundred feet.
As one of the best overall devices here at SpyCentre, this multi-functional bug sweeper includes a radio frequency detector, making it capable of searching for a wider variety of devices (including hidden cameras). With a range detection of 10 MHz to 10 GHz, this device can detect nearly any type of hidden device emitting an RF signal. In other words, you won't be left wondering if there are any bugs or spy cameras in your room. With this wide detection range and multiple detection modes, this multi-functional bug sweeper is one of the best devices for trying to find surreptitious recording units. On top of identifying classic RF transmitting devices, this multi-functional bug sweeper can also detect a range of more modern recording devices, which might be IP protocol, WIFI, GSM, Bluetooth, GPS, or any other type of device connected to a 3G/4G network. When using this device, you'll be able to adjust its detection range by either lengthening or shortening the antenna. Then, once the device detects a signal of any sort, a red indicator light will start flashing to let you know of a potential hidden device in the room.
Furthermore, this multi-functional bug sweeper is also capable of checking phone lines for any potential tapping. For this, all you'll need to do is connect a conventional POT or phone line into the device's in/out port, and it will automatically detect if there are any breaks in the line, which could be caused by a recording device or an external listener. Finally, the multi-functional bug sweeper also has two other modes: laser and noise mode. While laser mode is used to detect hidden laser audio devices, noise mode can be used as a proactive measure against unseen listening devices. When using noise mode, the device will generate white noise, capable of distorting and disrupting the feed of any hidden devices within your vicinity.
This dual-search bug detector was created specifically to detect cameras by targeting the lens of any hidden camera. Not only is this device powerful enough to spot those tiny lenses virtually anywhere, but it's also tiny and compact, making it ideal for taking with you while traveling. On top of this, the device also has a built-in RF detector with a range of 1 MHz to 6.5 GHz, which is perfect for checking to see if there are any devices transmitting video or audio feeds from your location. To be sure, the fact is that no matter how sophisticated the device, its lens is made using a special coating that all camera lenses are made with to increase light transmission into the camera. This camera finding device takes advantage of this fact and uses a red LED light to detect hidden lenses within a 30-foot vicinity from where you're standing. To use this feature, you'll need to turn it on and hit the button on the other side, and the red LEDs will begin flashing. Then, by looking through the device's viewfinder, you'll scan the room for any hidden lenses. To use this device's RF detector, turn the device on, calibrate it by using the antenna and adjustment settings, and then you're ready to begin scanning the area
This next camera-finding device is another powerful tool that comes in a super small, compact package. Like all of the other devices we've discussed so far, the anti-eavesdropping bug detector is also elementary to use, allowing you to detect any abnormal frequencies that may be present in the room. In other words, you'll be able to instantly detect if there are any types of video or audio devices emitting standard RF frequencies, WIFI, Bluetooth, or other cellular signals nearby. Of course, many non-camera devices will also emit similar frequencies. Keep that in mind, and when you are using this device, if you were to find a signal coming from, let's say, a smoke detector or an alarm clock, you're going to want to carefully inspect the object for hidden lenses or external wires that might seem suspicious. Things like a smoke detector or an alarm don't emit any RF signal. Therefore, if you're sensing a signal coming from them, there's a good chance you're looking at a hidden camera. With a detection range of 1 MHz to 6.5 GHz, this device also features a telescoping antenna to help raise and lower detection distances. It also comes with a handy built-in rechargeable lithium battery. It has several red flashing LED indicator lights on top of a viewfinder to help you easily identify hidden lenses in the room. On top of securing any room, this device also comes with a 90-day manufacturer's warranty.
Like the other devices we've discussed today, the Hidden Camera Infrared Detector with LCD IR Finder is a small yet mighty device. To use this device, turn it on and scan the room via the device's specially filtered viewfinder. This helps you easily detect pinpoint camera lens reflections. The camera detector also has a 2" LCD screen tied to a camera with an IR cut filter, making it easier to spot hidden night vision cameras in the dark. With only one button to turn on the camera finder and another to turn on the 2" LCD infrared finder, this device couldn't be any easier to operate. Another of the best features of the hidden infrared camera detector is that it's made using a built-in rechargeable battery, so you'll never have to worry about buying or having your batteries die on you when traveling. Instead, you can charge this device using the included micro USB cable. A full charge should give you about 2 hours of run time.
While not specifically designed for finding hidden spy cams, the Professional GPS Detector still looks for signals being transmitted along the same frequencies that wireless cameras typically use. It has two signal detection modes focusing on 2G/4G and 3G signals, frequencies used by wireless spy cameras, wireless bugging devices, and real-time GPS trackers. When turned on, the Professional GPS Detector will perform a base-level test to feel how much signal strength is in the immediate area before allowing you to sweep the room or vehicle. This helps to distinguish between stronger signals right around the detector and weaker signals bleeding into the area. After that, adjust the sensitivity up or down and walk around the area to try and find any indication of transmitting signals.
The detachable magnet detector distinguishes this device from other bug sweepers and GPS detectors because of how simple and effective it is to use when countering the threat of someone tracking you. Plug the magnet detector into the machine while off and press the red power button on the top of the detector. From here, you will be able to sweep the underbelly of your vehicle to search for Passive and Active GPS trackers that use a magnet or magnetic case to adhere the tracker to the car. Once the detector picks up on a magnet, the red LEDs will light up on the right or left side of the buzzer, letting you know in which direction to look. This is a significant breakthrough in technology that helps locate and counter GPS trackers.
ARE CELLPHONES GOOD FOR FINDING HIDDEN CAMERAS?
If you log onto your phone and search for camera-detecting apps, you'll be able to find dozens of apps that claim to be able to find hidden devices instantly. Most of these apps rely on RF signals. This means that recording devices that are not actively transmitting will be impossible to find. Some of them promise to use your phone's lens to find an infrared signal. However, seeing infrared with a phone camera lens is generally disabled by the manufacturer through physical filters. Unlike cell phones, our devices are designed to catch all devices, whether they are transmitting or not.
WHAT ARE RF SIGNALS?
RF (radio frequency) signals are a type of radio wave used to transmit information wirelessly. For example, the signals sent from a controller to a remote control car or the calls and texts you make from your cellular device are sent in RF frequencies. With these cameras, RF frequencies transmit the video feed from wherever the camera is located to an external device located elsewhere. The feed can either be viewed live or recorded without you even knowing about it. Fortunately, a hidden camera detector is capable of detecting RF frequencies. Our devices are also called lens detectors, RF detectors, or bug sweepers. These devices typically have adjustable detection ranges, allowing you to hone in on any RF frequencies emitted in your vicinity. There are devices other than hidden cameras that emit RF signals. However, if you were to find an RF signal coming from an ordinary device, such as a smoke detector or alarm clock, there's a good chance that you're looking at some hidden recording device.
4 STEPS TO DETECTING HIDDEN CAMERAS
Just because they are hidden doesn't mean that they're impossible to find. In fact, with a little bit of knowledge and a bit of careful investigation, you'll easily be able to determine whether or not a room has any hidden cameras or recording devices in it.
CHECK ALL OBJECTS
The very first method you'll want to use is to look around the room, keeping your eyes open for anything that looks even the slightest bit suspicious or out of place. One of the most common places you'll find is inside an object that doesn't really look out of place, like decorations or other typical household items. If you're searching a bedroom or hotel room, make sure to carefully inspect all common bedroom features, such as the alarm clock, bedside lamps, and even any toys or stuffed animals that may be present. On the other hand, if you're scanning a living area like a kitchen or rec room, make sure to check the smoke alarms, desks, bookshelves, wall sockets, and other permanent fixtures for the tiny lenses.
Although they are often wireless, some of the time, you might be able to spot suspicious wires coming from an ordinary object, which is a sure-fire sign that the object is bugged with either a hidden camera or a microphone. It's also a good idea to listen carefully, without making any noise, when you first enter an unknown room. Often, they could be set up to only start recording when motion is detected in the room. So in some instances, you might even be able to hear the camera starting up when you first walk in.
LOOK FOR SUSPICIOUS LIGHTS
Some recording devices, especially those equipped with night vision capabilities, will have a steady or blinking light on them when recording. A device's recording light may be hard to see during the daytime, especially if you're in a bright, well-lit room. Therefore, the easiest way to look for these lights is to dim the lighting in the room as much as possible and then scan around for any lights that look out of place, on top of shelves, your appliances, and especially around the ceiling. Cameras can often be hidden in holes in the ceiling or the corners because people don't usually pay too much attention to these spots and because it's a prime location to give whoever is viewing the camera's feed a better view of the room.
USE A HIDDEN CAMERA DETECTOR
Aside from performing a thorough visual inspection, the next best way to detect a hidden camera is by using a specialized device called a hidden camera detector. Just keep in mind that not all hidden camera finders are created equally. The ones we sell online are the same ones that we sell in our local Dallas store. We know that we can stand behind these products.
These can also be helpful as an infrared detector to look for tiny cameras recording in night vision mode with an infrared light.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSONAL SAFETY WHILE TRAVELING
Although we don't often put too much thought into it, we live in an era where we're almost constantly surrounded by cameras. Whether we're talking about traffic cameras, security cameras, or the cameras on our laptops and smartphones, the feeling of being watched and not knowing about it can easily send a shiver up anyone's spine. This is especially important considering the increase in reports of people finding hidden cameras or recording devices in hotel room or Airbnb. So make sure to remember that the steps we've discussed above, as well as using a high-quality hidden camera finder, are essential parts of your personal safety, especially while traveling or staying in an unfamiliar rental accommodation.