Are You Really Home Alone? Find Out if There are Hidden Cameras

Privacy is rightly valued, yet technological advances make it easier than ever before to spy and eavesdrop on someone. As spying cases tend to occur in unfamiliar places including rented homes, hotel rooms, bathrooms, changing rooms and anywhere outside public places, you can never be too careful. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be at all; especially for someone renting a home and is new to the environment, there may be something odd that a new tenant may easily overlook.

Camera and surveillance devices can be hidden behind common decorative elements such as mirrors, paintings or clutter in a rented home or room. This inconspicuous disguise makes it simple for someone to put a piece of surveillance equipment in a visible location. These devices are relatively affordable and can be simply bought from online shops without having any personal information of the buyer attached to the device or recorded. In other words, anyone can candidly buy a device, implant it and not be caught for it. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to discover these devices before some creeper can intercept your private moments or conversations. Having a greater understanding of where hidden cameras are typically located and how to identify them enables you to feel more secure about your privacy.

5 Ways to Find Hidden Cameras

Cameras are typically concealed within commonplace objects, such as alarm clocks, vases, showerheads, and will not attract attention when put in their usual context. Hidden cameras are frequently incorporated inside other electrical gadgets with existing cables in order to power them. Often, they may be found in devices placed on the walls or ceilings as the cables can easily be tucked away from being seen. Items that are not usually moved around or are not easily noticeable become the best spots to install hidden cameras.

When inspecting, it would help if you would also pay close attention to openings in the ceiling and in the walls such as the vents and the A/C to see whether a hidden camera may be installed there. Always remember the three important things for cameras to work: 

  • a clear and unobstructed line of sight
  • sufficient light to capture images
  • a stable power supply

Let’s dive deeper into measures you can take to discover hidden cameras that may have been installed in your home.

Examine homes physically

As a safety measure, a landlord can have cameras installed outside the home, but the presence of these cameras must be notified prior to the move-in. Even then, they can’t just secretly install indoor security cameras, especially in private places like bedrooms and bathrooms. According to the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, spreading such content is an offense under the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (Act 709). The owner must register with the Department of Personal Data Protection (JPDP) to ensure that the content, subject to personal data protection, isn’t violated or misused.

As a tenant, you can learn as much as you can about the home by reading the description and studying the photographs at the listing. When you're using Instahome 360 Virtual Tour, you can access the home and inspect the property yourself, without physically being there. Checking that everything in your room is as described is an important part of personal and safety preparation. For the inspection part, you can request our Instabuddy to help check and see if all outlets are truly in working order and if you can plug into them. If there’s some sort of a device plugged in somewhere and you’re not certain of what it is nor its functionality, you can unplug it or inquire the landlord about the device.

Think about bookcases, dressers, and closets since these are places where a hidden recording device may be installed, particularly in the bedroom or bathroom. Additionally, you can ask the landlord about their security camera policies before signing a tenancy agreement.

Find the Lens or “glint”

There are tiny cameras on the market - as small as 2.5 cm - which are often placed in plain sight, as it can be installed on common décor items, including paintings, blinds and pots. Smaller objects, such as air fresheners, motion detectors and digital clocks, can hide cameras on it or within it too. Other than that, be on the lookout for small openings or holes where small cameras can be easily concealed.

Hidden cameras in common objects that have been found before:

Hidden camera in charger

Hidden camera in toilet brush

Hidden camera in motion detector

Hidden camera in air freshner

Hidden camera in power outlet/socket

Hidden camera in shampoo bottle

Hidden camera in fake screw

To increase your chances of finding hidden cameras, switch off all the lights first and draw the curtains. Then scan the room carefully with a flashlight beaming onto different spots and corners. The aim is to find small flashes of light known as “glint” that will appear on cameras of any size.

Glint can be seen on camera lens

Unfortunately, this doesn't work on highly reflective surfaces such as mirrors. Therefore, physical inspection is required to ensure this type of object isn't wired or hiding another object inside or behind it. This is because it's possible for mirrors to be used as a two-way mirror. You can test it out by pressing your fingernail on the surface. If the reflection of your fingertip comes into contact with your finger, yeah, that mirror is acting sus!

two way mirror test

Check out this video to learn more about the fingernail test:

Use radio frequency detectors

It's a good idea to invest in a radio frequency (RF) detector. Since finding hidden cameras is not that easy of a task, you may need some help in detecting something you can't usually see with the naked eye. An RF detector detects radio waves that are normally emitted by hidden cameras that are using Wi-Fi.

Most wireless devices transmit radio waves at a frequency of 500MHz to 6GHz. Generally, conventional RF detectors can detect RF signals that are outside of this range. Keep in mind that you should turn off all your other gadgets nearby beforehand to avoid another RF interference from triggering the detector. 

Cameras equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth produce an RF signal while transmitting or receiving data. An RF detector can pick up those signals, thus locating the hidden camera along with other kinds of bugs.

This video demonstrates on how to use an RF detector that picks up signals from different devices:

Detect Infrared light from hidden cameras

Infrared lights are employed in security cameras to keep them operational when there is no light. Hidden cameras may be detected if you use your phone as a sensor. Most smartphones include an Infrared filter on the rear-facing camera in order to block infrared radiation in your pictures, which is not the case for the front-facing camera.

To see if this trick can work with your phone, put your phone camera into selfie mode. Next, hold a standard TV remote pointing directly at the front camera, and press any of the buttons on the remote.  If there's a tiny light visible on your phone screen, then your phone can do the trick!

Infrared light visbile on phone screen (front-facing camera)

A quick tutorial on checking if your camera can detect an Infrared light!

Now, kill the lights, pan your phone in such a way that the front camera films everything in the room. Pay attention to the ceiling as well! If you pick up any tiny bright lights not noticeable to you in an illuminated room... we're afraid we have bad news for you!

Perform network scans for unknown devices

Devices nowadays are “internet” enabled. Often, cameras connected to a Wi-Fi network allow remote access or live streaming. Therefore, the first step is always to scan the network in the property. To begin, make sure you have the Wi-Fi network connected to your mobile device. Once you are connected, launch a network scanner on your mobile phone. Apps like Ubiquiti WiFiman and Fing are useful for this method of finding hidden cameras, and both are available on iOS and Android.

Learn more on how to check devices connected to your network:

This application instantly scans the network, showing a list of all connected devices and its information including the name, device type, model number, the manufacturer (so you can search for more details online) and even IP addresses. Obviously, you'll see among the listed are the device you're using to run the app as well as the Wi-Fi router. In addition to that, you'll see other devices such as a smart TV connected to it as well. You are advised to look out for unknown devices connected to your internet connection which may turn out to be a hidden camera.

You’d be surprised at the extent of people preying on innocent people and violating their privacy. Watch this TikTok video by a cybersecurity educator Marcus Hutchins to know some of the very common bugged items. 

You can also watch the video below to see how and in what type of objects hidden cameras had been found - in a place as private as a bathroom!

Bugged Home: Who’s the Culprit?

Clearly, a landlord would be an easy target. But in reality, there are many possible suspects other than landlords, especially when it comes to public spaces or rented homes. Since several people may have accessed the property, including previous tenants, maintenance workers, and cleaning crews, we can’t really pinpoint anyone without any proof. Unless you managed to catch them in the act, it would be really hard to tell who’s the real culprit. In fact, some landlords may not be aware that their properties are bugged! However, if you’re following the steps mentioned in the article, you can reduce the risks of getting spied on and feel safer. Learn about your new environment and be aware of who goes into and out of your home. It’s impossible to identify the sick people out there but it’s possible for us to be informed and protect ourselves from them.

Try out our 360 Virtual Tour to inspect your dream home now!