”How to tell if a security camera is on or recording? How to tell if a security camera is real or fake?” Maybe you are puzzled by these questions. In this article, you will learn several easy and quick ways to check if a security camera is on. Before we explore further about how to check if CCTV is working, you may learn some common security camera types so that you can spot the camera in the first place.

Table of Contents:
#1. How to Know If a Security Camera Is On
#2. How to Tell If a Security Camera Is Fake or Real
#3. Frequently Asked Questions About Security Cameras

Here comes the key information about how to tell if a security camera is on:

Target Security camera
Exploration Whether it's on
6 Ways Movement/status of LEDs, etc.
Identification Fake/real

#1. How Do You Know If a CCTV Security Camera Is On

How to check if a store CCTV IP security camera is on or off? How to know if a camera is watching you?

Here are 6 simple ways for your reference. You can share your unique points in the comment below.

Infographic: How to Check CCTV Camera Working or Not

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1. Observe whether the security camera is moving to see if it is on. If you install a pan tilt type security camera, you can see this type of security camera will rotate continuously when it's on, and you would hear a distinct buzz when it's rotating.

If you have set up the patrol/tour function of the pan-tilt IP camera, you can see it moving constantly so you will know if the CCTV camera is recording.

2. Check the status of the LEDs in the IP security cameras. If it's an infrared IP security camera, you are able to see small red lights around the lens of the security camera in the dark, when this security camera is on. It's also a quick way to tell if a security camera has night vision.

You can use a book or any covers to block the light falling on your security camera. If you see the lights turn red, it means that the security camera is on.

How to Tell If a Security Cameras Is On

Side note: The security camera blinking red light is not always real. Remember that when a real security camera is on, it will only have red lights in very poor light conditions instead of blinking all the time day and night. (Further Reading: Why Security Cameras Have Red Lights)

3. Log in to your security camera software to check whether you can view the live streaming. Thus you can check if your security camera is on or working.

For example, you can turn on your monitor to see whether your IP security camera is recording videotape. If the footage is showing up correctly, the IP security camera is on. If not, it would be either the cable or the camera issue.

4. Use electronic bug detectors. CCTV security cameras would produce what is called a balanced signal when they are on or in working status. A balanced signal is a video signal that has been converted for transmission along with a medium other than coaxial cable.

It's also a pretty easy way to detect hidden cameras, or check if there are surveillance cameras are around.

CCTV IP security cameras (systems) would transmit higher energy radiation in their specified range. Thus you can use the electronic bug detectors to figure out the status of the IP security cameras.

5. Know if a CCTV is recording from its power indicator. Some IP cameras or wireless IP cameras have a status LED, so you can easily tell whether the camera is working or connected to WiFi properly.

6. Identify whether the security camera is real or fake. If it's a fake security camera, it will never be on.

Below are some useful ways to help you solve the other part of your questions — how to tell if it's a real or fake security camera.

#2. How Can You Tell If a Security Camera Is Fake or Real

Some of you may want to know whether this IP security camera is a real or dummy/fake security camera.

For example, if you visit your friend's home, you may feel uncomfortable if you are recorded by a security camera. So how to spot a fake security camera?

Besides the above ways to check whether the security camera is on, you can also identify if it's a real or fake IP camera with the ways below.

 How to Tell if a Security Camera is Fake Real

1. Check the security camera wires. Cat 5 or Cat 6 PoE security cameras use wires to connect to the router. Traditional wireless security cameras need cables for power. Thus you can check the cable around the security cameras to determine whether it's real or fake.

If it's a wire-free battery powered security camera, you can use the below ways to check whether the camera is fake or real.

2. Google the security camera brand. You may see a label or a mark of the security camera brand name. You can Google it to see whether it is a true security camera brand, or just a company that sells fake security cameras.

3. Check the red light of security cameras. Older fake security cameras have a blinking red light, while real types don't. It's a clever trick to see if CCTV cameras are working just by looking at it

#3. Hottest Questions About IP Security Cameras

Below are the bonus answers for some common questions about IP security cameras.

Q 1. How to Tell If a Security Camera Has Audio or Sound?

How can you tell if a security camera has audio?

A 1: It's impossible to tell whether this IP camera has audio from the appearance. You can just ask the security camera company staff directly. As you may know, most baby monitors have two-way audio function, so if you want an IP security camera with audio, you can go get a baby monitor directly.

Please know that state laws would have strict legislation on audio recording. One person must know about the video recording taking place. You should turn off the audio recording when this function is not allowed under some circumstances.

Q 2. How to Tell If a Security Camera Is Good?

A 2: There are several ways you can try to find a good and reliable security camera.

  • Google the security camera reviews of the IP camera brand.
  • Check the warranty for the security camera company. A good security camera company should offer you 2-year warranty.
  • Read the customers' reviews of the products.

Q 3. How to Tell If Your Security Camera Has Been Hacked?

A 3: Here is a post that can help you find out whether your IP security camera has been hacked. In this post, you can also learn some effective ways to prevent your IP cameras from being hacked.

Q 4. Do Real Security Cameras Blink?

Do real security cameras have blinking lights?

A 4: Most real security cameras come without those blinking red lights. Dummy security cameras would typically have blinking red lights in the front, which is an obvious feature of the fake security cameras.

How to identify a CCTV camera is on or off? How can you tell if a dome/bullet camera is real or fake?

Got your answers yet? If not, leave your questions in the comment below!

  • Army/ Blink

    Umm i noticed this at my school..... there are lots of cameras surrounding our school and i noticed only one camera has a red dot in the middle and white lights surrounding the camera so does it mean that the other cameras are off and that one camera is on or does it have another meaning? Please answer because me and my friends are wanting to know if the cctv's are on + Is the camera's wiring suppose to be seen at the back cause we see some of the camera's at school with orange wires and the others there are no wires and it looks like u can put batteries in it?

  • Elvia

    Hello there, the lights can be turned off. Thus, it doesn't mean that security cameras without red dots are off.

    If some of security cameras have no wires, perhaps they are battery powered security cameras, so they need 0 wiring :)

  • Peter

    When you buy a security camera and install in your house/business, can the security camera company you bought from able to see from the camera you install? The reason I ask is because I kept receiving question from the security company camera that I bought from when I go to check live video to see what happen through the camera. They ask you "how you like your ... security camera...etc. Thx for answering the question

  • Elvia

    Hello Peter, it depends on if the security camera company offer any professional monitoring services or if you have subscribed to such monitor plans or not. If not, the security camera company may not be able to access the cameras. You may change the password of your cameras to more secure ones from time to time so others won't be able to access your cameras. Hope this helps.

  • ArnieFunkel

    You won't see IR lights on at all in the pitch black even when they are right in your eyes with as much energy as a flashlight that would make you squint and close your eyes. Kind of neat.

    IR/ infrared light is a color of light beyond the human eyes visible light spectrum, I know some turn red which I believe is just a notification to say its on, and I assume that is a setting. However your eyes will never see true IR light. One way that you absolutely can tell if a security camera's IR light is shining at night, which would probably mean its recording, or detecting motion ready to record it. Open your cell phone camera at night time where the IR light/security camera are aimed, it should light up your phone in quite an obvious way. One way to test this is to take a TV remote that uses an IR beam and press a button on the remote while aiming your camera at it, you will see it light up only on your camera. Note it has to be an actual IR remote, some remotes use RF/radio frequency, or wifi these days



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