How to See if There Are Hidden Video Cameras in Your Airbnb

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Do you have a peeping Tom in your Airbnb? Maybe. Airbnb doesn’t prohibit cameras in rooms like living rooms and kitchens.¹ But it does prohibit hidden cameras and cameras used in more private areas like bedrooms and bathrooms. 

There have been many reports of travelers finding cameras where they shouldn’t be, like this newlywed couple in Oregon. Research found that 11% of the 2,000 people surveyed discovered hidden cameras in their vacation rental.²

Here’s how to see if your Airbnb, or another rental like VRBO, has hidden video cameras.



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1. Look for a light

The easiest thing you can do to detect a hidden camera is look for a light. Many cameras have a light on them that is easy to see in a dark room. So, as soon as you get to a room, turn off all the lights, close the curtains, and look in each room for a light.

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Image: Alina Bradford, SafeWise

2. Look for something out of place

If the room passes the light test, look around for things that seem out of place that may be a good hiding spot for a camera. A backpack on a nightstand, stuffed animals facing the bed, and holes in walls are all things to investigate. Also peek into plants and flower arrangements.

“Cameras need power to work, so a good starting point is to look at what's plugged into the outlets. And pay extra attention in sensitive areas like bathrooms and bedrooms,” said safety expert Cathy Pedrayes.

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Check hanging items

While you’re on the search, check behind mirrors, artwork, and other wall decorations.

3. Try some tech

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While you may be diligent in your search, you can still miss some craftier hiding spots. You may want to consider an app, like Fing, that can check to see what devices are connected to the Airbnb’s Wi-Fi. There are also many hidden camera finding apps that can help.

For under $50, you can even get a little pocket-sized device that detects cameras, listening devices, and other potentially nefarious items in a room.

Pedrayes has an easy hack that’s free: “If the camera has infrared technology, you can use the front-facing camera on your phone or computer to scan the room. Make sure the lights are all off and it's dark. If there's a camera, you'll see a big spotlight on your phone, and then you can walk up to it and inspect it further.”

Pedrayes recommends testing this technique before you leave home. Remote controls use the same infrared technology as cameras. So, point your remote at your front-facing camera and see if you can see the light. If it doesn’t work with your phone, try your laptop camera.

FAQ

Yes, but only in common areas like living rooms and decks. The cameras must be out in the open, too, since hidden cameras aren’t allowed.

Outside of the rental, cameras are allowed, but inside no cameras are allowed.³

If you find a camera, take a video or photos of your findings, cover the camera, and call the local police’s non-emergency number. Then, contact the rental company. Make sure to leave a review online so others can avoid the rental.

Technically, yes. They have to have the cameras only in “common areas” and must disclose that there are cameras in the rental, though.


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Related articles on SafeWise

Sources

  1. Airbnb, “Informing Guests About Security Devices.” Accessed July 20, 2022.
  2. IPX 1031, “Survey: Do Airbnb Guests Trust Their Hosts?” April 7, 2019.  Accessed July 20, 2022.
  3. Vrbo, “Vrbo's Policy on Surveillance Devices at a Property.” Accessed July 20, 2022.

Disclaimers

*Product prices and availability are accurate as of post date and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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