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How to Detect Hidden Cameras: Step-by-Step Guide

Elvia5/28/2024
How to Detect Hidden Camera

In recent years, hidden cameras have become increasingly common, and they can be found in a variety of places, from hotel rooms to public restrooms.There are several ways secret cameras can be used to invade people's privacy. Therefore, it is vital to learn how to find hidden cameras.

In this article, we'll tell you how to detect hidden cameras, introduce you what are hidden cameras them, and what to do if you find a hidden camera. Keep reading and learn how to protect your privacy.

What Are Hidden Cameras?

Hidden Camera

Hidden cameras, also known as spy cameras, are those video cameras used to film people from a secret place without their knowledge. Like security cameras, hidden cameras rely on a lens and an image sensor to capture videos. IR LEDs may be included for clear images at night. The major difference between hidden cameras and security cameras is that hidden cameras are especially small and used in more private areas.

How to Detect Hidden Camera: 7 Simple Ways

If you're concerned that someone might be spying on you, there are a few simple steps you can take to check for hidden cameras. Most of these methods are totally free, and with a little effort, you should be able to find any hidden cameras in your room or office.

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1. Scan the Environment Carefully

One of the easiest ways to detect hidden cameras is to check the environment carefully. An inch-by-inch search would be helpful to spot "obvious" hidden cameras at the first step.

Most Common Places to Find Hidden Cameras Indoors:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Air filter equipment
  • Books
  • Wall décor
  • Electrical outlets
  • Desk plants
  • Tissue boxes
  • Stuffed teddy bears
  • Couch cushions, table tops, and shelves
  • DVD cases
  • Lava lamps
  • Digital TV boxes
  • Wall sockets
  • Hairdryer holders
  • Wall or alarm clocks
  • Clothes hooks
  • Pens

Most Common Positions to Locate Hidden Cameras & Microphones Outdoors:

  • House plants
  • Holes on the doors
  • The roof
  • The doorbell

Some objects may reveal suspicious wires, lights, or lenses that are hallmarks of hidden spy cameras. If you find some unusual power outlets or adapters, unplug them immediately.

Listen as you walk through the entire room. Some hidden cameras with motion sensors would make an almost inaudible buzz when in operation.

2. Turn off the Lights in the Room & Use Flashlights

You can find hidden cameras by turning off all the lights and using a flashlight. Most hidden cameras have red or green LEDs that will blink or shine when in low-light conditions.

No matter what hidden cameras you want to detect, wired or wireless types, you can apply this method to detect spy cameras in your car, in stores, in the living room, bedroom, at your home, etc.

You can follow the below steps to find hidden cameras in dark conditions:

  • Draw the curtains in your room and turn off the lights. Make sure the room is as dark as possible.
  • Check whether there are blinking red or green LEDs in your room.
  • Turn on the flashlight and pan it around the room to see whether there is reflective light from a lens.

3. Look at the Wi-Fi Network

Most wireless hidden cameras are connected to Wi-Fi so that they can be viewed remotely. You can check how many devices are connected to the router to find hidden cameras.

If you're at you own home, you can login to the admin account on the router and find which devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi. Hidden cameras usually show as "unknown device" or come with strange names. You can remove the device from your network so that it won't work normall.

If you don't know the admin account, you can download a Wi-Fi scanning App. It can identify all the devices on the same Wi-Fi network as your phone. Look for any clue that can be a sign of a hidden camera.

However, this won't work sometimes because other devices such as printers can't be identified either. Hidden cameras that record locally won't be found with this method. You can try multiple ways to find them out.

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4. Find Hidden Cameras with Your Mobile Phones

There are a number of ways in which an individual can detect hidden cameras using their iPhone or Android mobile phone. One of the most effective methods is to make a call with the suspected person and walk around. If there is a hidden camera nearby, it will likely interfere with the phone call's signal.

Or, you can check the room with the phone’s front camera, whose lens doesn’t have a IR filter and can identity the infrared lights of hidden cameras.

Another easy way is to download an App that can help you detect hidden cameras. There are many Apps in the online stores for you to choose. With a smartphone and an App, you can find hidden cameras quickly and easily.

5. Use a Hidden Camera Detector

Professional RF (radio frequency) signal detectors or other hidden camera bug detectors are quite effective to locate spy cameras.

A lot of news has reported that people keep finding hidden cameras in Airbnb homes. If you go on business or a vacation and rent an Airbnb house, you can check whether there are hidden cameras with the detector quickly.

The following steps will show you how to a find hidden camera with a professional hidden camera detector:

  1. Buy a professional detector on Amazon or other online shops. The price varies greatly, ranging from several bucks to hundreds of dollars.
  2. But before you start, you'd better turn off and unplug all devices that send out radio signals, including kitchen appliances, baby monitors, routers, modems, TVs, and so on. These devices may affect the detecting result.
  3. Turn on the device and do a sweep of your room carefully. Typically the detectors will beep when they detect a signal, giving you an audible indication when you're near a potential camera.

Note: RF hidden camera detector only picks up a kind of frequency. If the hidden security cameras and other bugs use multiple frequencies changing rapidly, the detector might not detect the presence of hidden spy cameras. The good news is that bad guys would not install hidden cameras with complex frequent network signals, since this type of hidden spy camera is much more expensive.

6. Check If There's a Hidden Camera behind the Mirror

This picture shows how to use just your finger to check if there is a hidden camera in a mirror

Remember to find hidden cameras in the mirrors in the toilet, changing rooms, etc. As you may know, some awful guys would install a hidden spy camera on the other side of a mirror that is see-through, while the other side looks the same as a normal mirror.

There's a useful tip you can use to detect such two-way mirrors in fitting rooms, toilets, bathrooms, etc:

  1. Put your fingernail on the mirror.
  2. Observe the gap between your finger and the mirror.
  3. See if there's a gap between your finger and the image, it's a real mirror. If your finger and the image touch tip to tip, there might be a hidden spy camera in the mirror.
  4. You can also tap on the mirror to detect whether it's two-way. An ordinary mirror will make a dull sound while a two-way mirror will make a sharp or hollow sound.

7. Hire a Professional Technician

If you plan to stay somewhere for a period or need a private place for very important events, hiring a professional technician is the most reliable way to get rid of hidden cameras.

It may cost more than other methods, but it can save you a lot of energy and offer you peace of mind. A qualified technician has the professional equipment to find hidden cameras, wired or wireless.

Besides, the technician has been trained to find hidden cameras. He or she knows well which things or places to search: any smoke detector, screw, and other disguises.

Hidden cameras are always being updated and you can never predict what they will be disguised as. If you suspect you're being monitored but end up finding nothing unusual, it's recommended to seek help from professional teams in case your privacy is compromised.

What Do Hidden Cameras Look Like?

Hidden cameras come in different sizes and shapes and they can look like almost everything. A hidden camera can be as small as a pinhole or keychain, it can be placed in our everyday items such as a smoke detector, a screw etc.

1. Smoke detector camera

Hidden camera in a smoke detector

It's not easy to find the hidden camera in a smoke detector due to its height. The smoke detector is under the ceiling and hard to reach for average people. What's worse, it looks so normal in people's rooms that no one realizes it's actually a spy camera.

You can climb up and inspect the smoke detector carefully. Or, you can turn off the lights in the room and shine a flashlight on the smoke detector to see whether there's a lens inside.

This is what happened in a real case. On December 18, 2021, in Sacramento, California, a woman made a alarming discovery in her home. She found a camera hidden in what she thought was a smoke detector. She found it by accident and didn't know how long she and her boyfriend had been monitored. After that, she quickly moved out the apartment.

2. Hidden camera in screws

This picture shows a hidden camera in a screw

Believe it or not, there might be a hidden camera in a tiny screw! Such a spy camera usually has its lens covered by a fake screw and can be connected to a DVR device through cables. This kind of pinhole camera is perfectly disguised and can be hidden anywhere.

To check for the hidden cameras in the screw, you will need to take a closer look at the odd screws in your room or use flashlights to check them. If you're unsure whether it's a screw hidden camera, you can cover it with a towel just in case.

3. USB charger spy cameras

Hidden camera in a USB charger

Hidden camera in USB charger are so popular in the market. The compact design makes it easy to accommodate a tiny camera and the black cover makes the lens nearly invisible. What's more, it can charge the camera and record at the same time.

If you suspect that a USB charger contains a hidden camera, don't worry too much, as USB chargers with spy cameras are relatively easy to spot. Pay attention to its surface and check for any suspected holes, which a normal USB charger should not have.

4. Other typical hidden cameras

There are so many spy cameras in the market that blend perfectly into the environment. Here is a chart of other typical hidden cameras in our daily life.

  • Pen
  • Hook
  • Clock
  • Socket
  • Photo frame
  • Router

How to Find Hidden Cameras: Effective Techniques

If you do not have a professional detector, your mobile phone (e.g. iPhone or Android smartphone) can be used to find hidden cameras.

Detecting Hidden Cameras with iPhone

It works because the hidden camera signals interfere with the signal when making a phone call.

It's simple, all you have to do is make a phone call. Follow these steps:

  1. Make a phone call with your friends or family and keep it on hold.
  2. Walk around your room slowly. Hidden cameras giving off a special radio frequency would interfere with your phone call signal.
  3. If you notice that there is signal interference in a specific place or position, stop and check this place carefully to find out whether there is a hidden security camera.

Finding Hidden Camera with phone's front camera

The cameras of your mobile phone can also detect the infrared lights emitted by hidden spy cameras. In most cases, the back camera of a smartphone has a filter to block out infrared light while the front camera doesn't. The camera without IR filters can be used to detect hidden cameras.

Make sure the room is dark, point an infrared TV remote at your smartphone's camera, and then press any button. If you see a light on the screen, the camera can detect infrared light. If you don't, try another camera again. Now follow these steps:

  1. Turn off all the lights and make sure the room is as dark as possible.
  2. Turn on your smartphone's camera and use it to scan the room slowly.
  3. Look at the screen. If there's any suspicious light, there might be a hidden camera.

How to Check for Hidden Cameras

If you want to check hidden devices inside a room, you can also use smartphone apps. Here are some detailed steps:

  1. Install a "detect hidden cameras" app on your iPhone or Android mobile phones. For example, "Spy hidden camera detector" app (.apk) software is a good option.

  2. Launch the app on your mobile phone. The detector software will display a red glow when your smartphone approaches a hidden camera. Note that it will also glow when getting near other types of hardware with radio frequency.

Best Hidden Camera Detector Devices Recommendations

Based on RF (radio frequency) signal detectors, all hidden camera detectors work in a similar way and the price varies depending on the type of device and the manufacturer.

You can choose a hidden camera detector depending on your needs, it all depends on how you want to use it, for example, if you want to use it in a professional way for a large area or just for yourself, for example, if you go to a hotel room and you want to see if there are no hidden cameras in the room.

1. Professional detector for wide-range areas

This picture shows a professional hidden camera detector for professional use

If you are looking for a spy camera detector to scan your bedrooms, living rooms, and other wide-range areas, especially in hotels and Airbnb homes, you can use the device that combines both RF signal and lens detection, as the picture shows.

This type of detector is often used in detecting listening or bugging devices and hidden cameras in hotel rooms, bedrooms, confidential meeting rooms, dressing rooms, etc. Popular brands that manufacture such professional counter-surveillance detectors are JMDHKK, SpyHawk, etc.

You can turn on the RF signal detection first and find the approximate location of the hidden camera when the detector beeps. After that, you can use the lens detection function to spot its exact location.

2. Small detector for personal use

This picture shows a small wireless hidden camera detector for peosonal use

It works the same as other camera detectors but is smaller and more portable. This kind of camera detector may have infrared LEDs and a tinted sight to detect a pin hole to a full sized lens. It can make your travel more comfortable and secure.

If you want to scan if there are any shower cam or hidden mics in the bathrooms or fitting rooms, you can get a small and wireless RF signal detector. Popular companies that make this type of light camera detector are Flyeego, KJB Security, etc.

What to Do If You Detect Hidden Spy Cameras at Your Place?

Once you've found a hidden camera in your room, you should take the below procedures.

  1. Don't move or touch the hidden cameras. (The police would collect the fingerprints to locate the criminal.)
  2. Take all of your belongings out of the viewing angle of the camera.
  3. Take pictures of the camera for evidence.
  4. Call the police or other authorities to investigate the case.

FAQ

How Do Hidden Camera Detectors Work?

The following is the working method of hidden camera detectors, as people on Quora ask about how they work. There are two main ways most spy camera detectors work:

  1. Check for the reflective lights from the camera lens (like using a flashlight).
  2. Detect the RF broadcast of the camera. Typically the detectors will beep when they find the signal, and give you audible alerts.

How to Deal with My Boss, Parents and Neighbors Spying on Me with Hidden Cameras?

If you suspect your boss, parents or neighbors are bugging you, you can use the above top 6 ways to find the hidden cameras.

Take pictures of the hidden camera if you find it, and then report it to the police immediately.

What is the eastest way to find a hidden camera?

The easiest way to detect hidden cameras is to use a flashlight. Turn on the flashlight and turn off the lights in your room. Pan the flashlight around the room. Go slowly and examine any suspicious positions from different angles. If you notice any reflective lights from an object, there might be a hidden camera there.

The laws differ from country to country regarding hidden cameras. But one thing for sure is that hidden cameras are illegal once they are used in private areas or for unethical purposes. Anyone using a hidden camera to invade other people's privacy will be punished by law.

Generally speaking, hidden cameras are not allowed and illegal in the below areas:

  • Restrooms
  • Other people's homes
  • Dressing rooms
  • Locker rooms
  • Other areas where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy

Laws also require that people cannot record audio from:

  • Eavesdropping
  • Remote recording
  • Other illegal audio recording methods

If you plan to use a hidden camera, it's recommended to research the laws in your residential place. If it isn't clearly defined, you'd better consult an attorney about how you can use a hidden camera.

Conclusion

In this article, we've concluded some common methods for detecting hidden cameras. We hope you find them useful! Have you ever noticed there might a hidden camera around? How can you detect hidden cameras on a TV or laptop? Do you have other easy tips to spot hidden spy cameras? Share your stories or methods with us below!

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When not diving into writing about home security, Elvia spends her time watching movies, hiking, reading, etc. Also, she is a big fan of Star War and Orphan Black.