Airbnb has over six million home listings around the world in over 100,000 cities. With access to this many vacation rentals and homestay options, you could never set foot in a hotel again, if that’s how you wanted to travel.
After a long day of travel, be it plane, train or car, there’s nothing more satisfying than checking into you accommodations, stripping off your travel clothes and getting cozy in your temporary abode.The world has been embracing vacation rentals year after year, opting to stay somewhere that feels more homey than a typical hotel room. It’s easier than ever to find unique homes and rooms available to rent thanks to digital platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo where users can see photos of potential spaces and also read detailed reviews from past patrons.Last year in Canada, there was a 25 per cent increase in the number of short-term house rentals on Airbnb with an average of 128,000 listings available to rent from coast to coast on any given day, according to a report obtained by the Globe & Mail.Airbnb has over six million home listings around the world in over 100,000 cities. Unique homestay experiences are on the rise, too. Currently the house-share platform has over 14,000 tiny house listings and 4,000 castles and nearly 2,500 tree houses.With access to this many vacation rentals and homestay options, you could never set foot in a hotel again, if that’s how you wanted to travel.Yet despite the transparency that home stay and vacation rental websites offer, some guests are having disturbing experiences once they’re checked-in. More and more hidden camera horror stories are popping up online putting both questionable hosts and the safety of these platforms under the microscope.Are hidden cameras in vacation rentals on the rise?In recent months, a number of vacationers have taken to social media to share their unnerving experiences with the world.“We just found a camera hidden in a smoke alarm case in the private living room of a listing. We were travelling with children,” wrote Nealie Barker on her Facebook page. “The host admitted to the concealed camera over the phone, only after presented with our irrefutable proof.”That “irrefutable proof” was a photo that her and her family took posing for the hidden camera. You can see the images of the hidden camera (which was disguised as a second fire alarm) as well as the photo of her family on a posted that she shared to Facebook.“We also recently found a hidden spy camera facing out bed which was concealed in a false LED light,” wrote Colin Gold on Facebook who also shared images of the device in question.“I provided all the evidence to Airbnb and they only gave me a refund. The host made some lame excuse that the hidden camera would only record if it detected smoke from a separate device.”How to spot a hidden camera in your vacation rental“It’s quite difficult for someone to spot a well-hidden camera without any professional equipment,” says Jamie Cambell, founder of GoBestVPN, a security company that aims to help consumers to protect their privacy, especially online.“Camera technology has gotten quite good nowadays. They don’t have some blatant light and they certainly won’t be detected by some phone app,” he adds.Still, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.Take a walk through the home and be observant“Move around the rental place and see where you would be most vulnerable,” says Cambell. “Then look around and see what angles cover this area.”By doing this, you can potentially find places in the home that a host might want to monitor, like a kitchen, entryway or even bedroom or bathroom, and the spot where they’d likely install a hidden camera.Look for holes and randomly places wires“[Make sure to look for holes at] non-eye level angles,” says Cambell. They’re not always going to be in obvious places. He also suggests looking for oddly-placed wires in strange spots and even inspecting toys that might be on display.Keep in mind that hidden cameras are meant to be just that: hiddenHidden cameras shouldn’t be easy to spot. That’s the point of installing one. But knowing what to look for can be helpful in keeping your privacy intact.There are all sorts of forms that hidden cameras can take on, including ones that look like smoke detectors, air conditioners, televisions and even tiny ones built into screws.Download a network scannerAs Cambell mentioned earlier, there’s no one app you can download to detect shady behaviour, like a hidden camera, but some there are a few apps that can potentially help you detect a mysterious device.Network scanners, like Fing, are apps that can be installed on your smartphone that will reveal all of the devices attached to the wireless network that you’re currently connected to such as network in the home you’re staying in. If a homeowner has set up a hidden camera in your vacation rental, this could potentially be detected if they linked it to the same wifi network they’ve given you.This isn’t something that works 100 per cent of the time, but if you do spot a strange device attached to your wifi network that you don’t recognize as your own, it could be a hidden camera.Related