Airbnb has a hidden camera problem. Privacy-minded people might fear renting out houses on the online marketplace for lodging out of the possibility that their host is watching them discreetly using security cameras.
The concern is well-founded after dozens of reports showed that thousands of Airbnb were installing hidden cameras in their Airbnbs and not disclosing it to travelers.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Airbnb spends $50 million every year in payouts to guests and hosts, including for counseling sessions, patching bullet holes, hiring body-fluid crews to clean up the blood, and everything else you could think of from hosts hurling suitcases out of windows to gas leaks, sexual assaults and what we’ll talk about today, concealed cameras.
Tips on Spotting a Hidden Airbnb Camera
First off, Airbnb owners are allowed to have cameras outdoors, so if you saw a camera outdoors, chances are -duh- it is not a hidden camera. Indoor cameras in private spaces like bedrooms and bathrooms are NOT allowed – even if the host tells you about them.
Always check and read the property description and see whether they have listed any cameras on the property.
- Learn where hidden cameras may be placed and how they look
This is a tough one given these cameras are designed to not be found, however, knowing what a typical wireless camera looks like will not hurt. These hard to detect spy cameras may look like something entirely different like smoke detectors, stuffed animals, shower gels, light bulbs, clock radio and even, USB wall plugs (Most hidden cameras are not wired).
- Search The Property
When you first check in to an Airbnb, don’t get straight to business! check around for any plugged-in devices, any electronics that look out of place or simply don’t work. Unplug, store or rearrange anything that seems unusual, you have paid for this space!
You can also find and unplug your WiFi router in your Airbnb unit and wait and see if you hear anything from your Airbnb host. If they contact you asking why the WiFi was turned off, they were monitoring it.
- Use an app to scan for hidden Airbnb Cameras
While searching physically for the hidden cameras may seem easiest, using a smartphone app to scan the devices attached to the property’s network to find Wi-Fi cameras may also work. As mentioned earlier, most of these hidden cameras won’t be wired as their essence is to be concealed, this means they are connected to a Wifi service. Some apps can also detect infrared cameras.
Other apps include;
- Use the old Flashlight and Camera trick
While this may look stupid, shining your flashlight on camera lenses will expose them as they are made of glass, which, you guessed it, is highly reflective.
Most spy cameras can record at night because they’re equipped with night vision infrared rays. The rays are visible via your phone’s camera. Open your camera app and scan the Airbnb with the lights turned off, if you spot small lights that you can only see on your smartphone screen, you are being WATCHED! Maybe…
PS. None of these methods are full proof but they might come in handy for you.
What to do if you find or suspect there’s a hidden camera in your Airbnb
Airbnb Standards & Expectations require that all members of the Airbnb community respect each other’s privacy. More specifically, they require hosts to disclose all security cameras and other recording devices in their listings and prohibit any security cameras and other recording devices that are in or that observe the interior of certain private spaces (such as bedrooms and bathrooms), regardless of whether they’ve been disclosed.
Intentionally concealed recording devices (such as hidden security cameras) are never permitted.
Should you discover an Airbnb hidden camera, take a picture or a video as evidence, document the situation with as many details as possible while contacting the Airbnb Trust & Safety team who could offer new accommodations and open an investigation.
If you feel like you are in danger, leave as soon as possible.