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Here’s How You Can Find Out if There’s a Hidden Camera in Your Hotel Room

The prospect of getting spied on when you're staying in a hotel is scary, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

If-You're-Worried-Your-Hotel-Is-Spying-on-You,-Here's-What-to-Do_383952526_Dragon-ImagesDragon Images/Shutterstock

When you’re staying in a hotel for vacation or work, the last thing you want to think about is that someone may be spying on you. But it can happen. In 2018, a Chicago woman sued Hilton for $100 million, claiming that she was filmed in the shower at a hotel and later blackmailed, according to CNN.

It’s not hard to plant a camera in a hotel room and no organization specifically tracks these types of crimes, security experts say.

“One of the reasons this is happening is because of the ready availability of low-cost camera technology,” says Jack Plaxe, founder and managing director of Security Consulting Alliance. Cameras with pinhole lenses that can be easily concealed are available through Amazon and other shopping sites for less than $100.”Anybody who has the intention of doing this can purchase something that will work.”

And today’s spy cameras are so small that if they’re properly concealed, there is no telltale sign, says Mike O’Rourke, CEO of Advanced Operational Concepts. Many come already installed in clock radios, smoke detectors, lamps, and other portable devices. Don’t miss these other red flags you’re staying in a bad hotel.

People who place hidden cameras in hotel rooms may be looking for anything from compromising photos of people to trade secrets, security experts say. That said, Plaxe and O’Rourke say they don’t think the use of hidden cameras is as much of a problem in hotels in the United States.

“Overall in America, there is little worry in the larger and more prominent chains,” says O’Rourke. “Concern increases the further off-brand and lower budget one goes. Internationally, the opposite is true, especially in countries known to target business travelers.”

So while it can be almost impossible for an untrained eye to spot a hidden camera, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk:

Hotel room Interior.August_0802/Shutterstock

Survey the room

Look for pieces of furniture or appliances that are in unusual places, Plaxe says. For example, a lamp that’s been placed in an unusual location and appears to be specifically angled toward the bed. If you have any suspicions, report them to hotel management. Here are some other safety tips you should know when staying in a hotel.

Hotel room telephone with digital clock on background on beside table. Concept for travel or business.Paradise On Earth/Shutterstock

Disconnect the alarm clock

If there is a bedside clock, O’Rourke unplugs it and places it in a drawer. When it’s anchored in place, he covers it with a towel. “If the clock is returned to its place or uncovered, I either have a problem or a detail-oriented housekeeping staff,” he says.

door lens peephole on light wooden texturebluehand/Shutterstock

Cover the peephole on your door

People have used peephole reversers to film inside hotel rooms. “Sports reporter Erin Andrews was victimized in this manner a decade ago, and she won a multi-million-dollar settlement in court,” O’Rourke says.

Handsome young businessman wearing formal white shirt and tie sitting on the bed with laptop in modern room. Self-employed person using smartphone in penthouse and looking at sunny city view in windowfizkes/Shutterstock

Don’t use your laptop in expected locations

You may want to take additional precautions if you’re traveling in countries where trade secrets are targeted, such as China or Russia. “Cameras may be pointed at desks to capture computer passwords and other sensitive information,” O’Rourke says. Avoid using your laptop where criminals think you will—including the hotel lobby. Now that you know how to potentially spot a hidden camera in your hotel room, find out more tips on how to stay safe on vacation.

Jen McCaffery
Jen McCaffery is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Prevention, Rhode Island Monthly, and other publications and websites. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s growing veggies or trying to figure out the way home from assorted trails.

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