(NEXSTAR) – Someone might be keeping an eye on you as you check into your next vacation rental.
The vacation rental property allows for security cameras in many parts of a home or apartment that’s rented out to guests. However, if you’re going to be watched, you should know about it.
Airbnb doesn’t allow for hidden cameras or any other types of concealed recording devices. It does allow hosts to install security cameras in or around the property – as long as they’re not in private areas like bedrooms or bathrooms, and as long as they are properly disclosed.
Vrbo, another vacation rental platform, has even stricter rules: no cameras or other surveillance devices anywhere inside a property. They are permitted in outdoor areas, if disclosed.
Last year, a lawsuit was filed in Texas, after a couple said homeowners recorded them during “intimate and private moments” while they were renting their property in August 2020. One of the homeowners was arrested and officials say their investigation discovered other illegally recorded explicit images of different guests.
How to check for hidden cameras
Expert Marcus Hutchins, whose cybersecurity tips TikTok account @malwaretech has over 425,000 followers, said one quick way to find a hidden camera is by shining a light inside any items with holes in them. For instance, run your phone’s flashlight over a smoke detector or air conditioning vent — any lenses inside will give a bluish reflection. Hutchins explained hidden cameras can be hidden in shower heads and even outlet plugs.
Shining lights on mirrors or other mirrored items will also reveal camera lenses hiding behind the glass, Hutchins said.
Meanwhile, Michael O’Rourke, chief executive of the global security consultancy firm Advanced Operational Concepts, previously outlined a few of his tips for the Washington Post.
O’Rourke said he unplugs bedside clocks and puts them away in a drawer. Next, he said he covers peepholes in doors and covers cracks under doorways in case and camera lenses can see through from outside.
Another tactic suggested by some experts is to disconnect your rental’s Wi-Fi completely, though this may be against your host’s rules, in addition to possibly causing other issues for (non-invasive) connected devices.
The smartphone app Fing is also noted for its ability to scan for hidden cameras on its own.