Nanny-cams became popular when families began wondering if babysitters and caregivers were abusing their children or parents. While this invention of disguising a camera served a noble cause, sadly hidden cameras are also being used to spy on the privacy of those who rent hotel rooms, Airbnb’s, cabins, and houses.

According to Forbes magazine, in March 2019 a variety of travelers started reported finding hidden cameras in their Airbnb accommodations. A camera was found in an alarm clock and in another location a guest found a tiny camera mounted inside a smoke detector. A quick online search produces an alarming amount of illegal wiretapping and camera devices. The good news is online devices are also available to detect these technological spies.

Prices for these devices range from $100 on up to several thousands. Each device offers a different level of detection, but most will locate an offending piece of equipment. Online suppliers such as spygadgets.com offer RF detectors. An RF detector monitors the output of an RF circuit and develops a dc output voltage proportional to the power at that point. RF power, rather than voltage, is the primary measure of a wireless signal. The detector will make a crackling sound or beep when it receives any radio frequency.

Another clue that your being “bugged” is to listen carefully for any interference when making a call. Microphones and hidden cameras tend to make an electromagnetic field because they transfer data. When making a call using a mobile phone walk around the room/home while talking. When there is clicking, buzzing, or cracking on the phone it may be a signal that there is field of surveillance nearby.

Another method is to use a digital camera or smartphone to search for infrared lights. Many digital and smartphone cameras have the ability to see infrared light that the naked eye is not able to detect. Scan the camera round the area and check through the display for any unanticipated flashes or light source that may point out a hidden camera. Online video tutorials demonstrate how to accomplish this.

Two-way mirrors can generally be detected with a simple finger test. Place one finger on the mirror, if there is no gap between the reflection and your finger further investigation may be warranted. Sometimes the angle of the mirror, the size, or the lighting in the room the test may not be 100 percent accurate. Another way to detect a two-way mirror is to turn off the lights in the room, turn on your phone’s flashlight and press it up to the mirror, if you can see another room through the mirror you just discovered your privacy is being invaded.

No one should become voyeur victim with today's technological advances.

— Marla Ballard’s Master of Disguise normally appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday editions.

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