Airbnb allows cameras in rented properties, as long as they’re fully disclosed and visible, and, for obvious reasons, aren’t in bathrooms or bedrooms. Unfortunately, not all homeowners follow that particular community standard of the company. Case in point, we wrote a while back about Airbnb owners who hide cameras in their properties, without telling renters about them.
If you have privacy concerns, you’re probably going to want to look for hidden cameras when you get to your Airbnb rental. Unfortunately, cameras are becoming smaller and smaller so it becomes more difficult to find them. But there are a few things you can look for:
If something doesn’t look quite right:
A clock with a USB wire coming out of it. A smoke detector with a lump on its side. An electrical outlet with an extra hole in it. If something just looks “off,” that “off” thing could be (or could lead to) a hidden camera.
If something is in an odd position:
You can buy ready-made household items with hidden cameras pre-installed, and then it might not look weird at all. So, look for things that seem to be in the wrong place or seem to be placed deliberately. An alarm clock in the bathroom is a good example. So is a USB plug that’s pointed directly at a bed. Or a bedroom that has two smoke detectors in it. Or a can of soda that’s left on the counter. Or an alarm sensor that has no alarm pad. Also, look for devices that have an unobstructed view of a room.
Use a flashlight to look for camera lenses:
A planter with drainage holes looks innocent enough. So does an air vent. But if you shut off the lights and shine a flashlight into the holes, do you see a reflection? It could be the glass of a camera lens.
Open all the drawers
There are cameras so small that they can fit in the small spaces in drawers in cabinets. But these devices still have “guts,” and they may be found inside said drawers.
Scan the WiFi network
Tiny cameras use WiFi to stream what they’re recording so the host can see it remotely. Although they aren’t always 100% effective, you can use smartphone apps to display all the wireless devices connected to a WiFi network. Here are a few:
Invest in an RF Detector
All wireless devices give off a radio frequency (RF). So if you have an RF detector, you can find out if there’s anything in a room putting out an RF frequency…like that potted plant in the corner?
What to do if you think you’ve found a hidden camera
Cameras only work if they have an unobstructed view of whatever they’re recording. If you think a device might have a hidden camera, turn it around so it’s facing the wall, cover it over with a towel or piece of clothing, etc. If you’re positive you’ve found a hidden camera, take lots of pictures and/or video of the device, and make sure to let Airbnb know so they can do what needs to be done on their end.
We weren’t fans of Airbnb for a long time (thanks to COVID, we’ve had a change of heart), and this was one of the reasons why. If you enjoy using Airbnb, more power to you, but you may want to keep the above in mind, just in case.
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