How to spot a hidden camera in your Airbnb suite
A Vancouver man has filed a complaint with police after he says he found a hidden camera on the nightstand of a Toronto Airbnb suite earlier this month.
CTV News has compiled some simple tips that can help you avoid what Robert Wallenberg called "a grotesque violation" of his privacy.
There are several apps on the market that can help tell if you're being spied on.
Some products, such as "Hidden Camera Detector" for iPhones and "Glint Finder" for Android use your smartphone's built-in camera to scan the room, claiming to be able to detect the presence of camera lenses.
Other apps connect to the suite's Wi-Fi signal and can detect all of the devices that are connected to it.
If only your phone or computer shows up, that's a good sign. But users should beware if any unfamiliar or unusual devices are detected.
These types of apps usually cost no more than a few dollars. For those willing to spend more on their peace of mind, "bug detectors" that claim to be able to use signal to spot hidden cameras, microphones and other surveillance devices retail online starting at around the $30 mark.
There is, however, a more cost-effective way of checking for hidden cameras that involves simply turning out the lights and shining a flashlight on any suspect objects.
Be sure to cover the entire surface of the object, including the edges. If part of it suddenly sparkles, you might be looking into a camera lens.
"If you have that feeling that something isn't right about Airbnb that you're staying at, maybe do a little bit of investigating," Wallenberg's lawyer, Gillian Fahy, told CTV News, suggesting that those who do find something suspicious reach out to police and a lawyer.
That's exactly what Wallenberg did, and ended up spotting a hidden camera lens in a bedside alarm clock.
Now, he's suing the owner of the Toronto suite, which Airbnb has since removed from its site.
While many Airbnb suites provide safe, often affordable accommodations around the world, if your privacy is ever in doubt, your best choice may to be trust your gut.
With files from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander