How to spot a hidden webcam

During the holidays, many of us start racking up frequent flyer miles. We’re visiting family and friends, and often booking a low-cost room in an Airbnb. While the joy of opening gifts around the holidays and sharing a meal is hard to beat, finding a hidden webcam is sure to sour the mood.

It might be for security purposes or to prevent theft, but you never know if you have a Peeping Tom. To help, here are a few tips and tricks to give you peace of mind.

1. Turn off the Wi-Fi router and wait for the host to respond

Here’s an interesting trick. Alex Heid from SecurityScorecard told Fox News that many Wi-Fi routers are left out in the open. If you unplug the device, the host will lose the webcam connection and might contact you about losing the connection. It’s a dead giveaway, he says.

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2. Use a radio wave signal detector

Amazon sells low-cost Wi-Fi signal detectors like the UNKNOK Bug Detector ($59). It sweeps the room looking for wireless camera signals in the 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz radio band. All wireless signals will show up, but if you find one, you can ask the host to turn off the network.

ILLUSTRATION - An illustration shows a webcam in Berlin, Germany, 28 Feb.2014.

ILLUSTRATION - An illustration shows a webcam in Berlin, Germany, 28 Feb.2014. (Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images)

3. Use the Fing app

A simple (and free) app for your smartphone called Fing will reveal quite a bit. Once connected, you can see which devices are sharing the same wireless network. If you see a webcam, it’s a tip-off that there may be a hidden camera somewhere in the room.

4. Read the reviews

This is a decidedly low-tech option, but it can help. Before you book an Airbnb rental, read the reviews and note whether the previous occupants have found a hidden webcam. Look for anything else suspicious, like a host that snoops around.

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5. Find the light

Another good tip for finding a hidden webcam: Follow for the light. At night, turn off all of the lights and darken the windows with blankets if possible. Once the room is pitch black, look for any lights behind wall ornaments, paintings, or a mirror.

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6. Ask the host directly

Sometimes, the best approach to any technical issue is to ask direct questions. When you meet the Airbnb host, ask them point-blank if there is a security camera. The host may be forced to admit they do use a camera or risk lying and being discovered.