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How to Detect Surveillance Listening Devices in Your Home or Office

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How to Detect Surveillance Listening Devices in Your Home or Office
One of the sad facts of living in an age that features paranoia — sometimes official, a lack of respect for privacy, and the technical means for others to delve into your secrets, being put under surveillance and getting bugged with listening devices and hidden cameras is a real possibility.

When You May Be Under Surveillance

Turbofuture(1) suggests that you might be subject to electronic surveillance if:

  • You own a company.
  • You have an important, responsible, or secretive job.
  • You have to attend confidential interviews or meetings.
  • You are a scientist, politician, journalist, attorney, judge, police officer, local government official.
  • Your partner or spouse believes you are having an affair.
  • You are getting divorced.
  • You are a suspected activist.
  • You are interested in conspiracies and frequent certain websites.
  • Your neighbor hates you.
  • You were arrested for, but never convicted of, terrorist-related crime.
  • Your friend, neighbor, or relative is under suspicion.
  • You have recently made a substantial insurance claim.
  • You are very wealthy.
  • You are a celebrity.
  • You are the victim of a stalker.

Sometimes, if you are connected with the government, either as an official or a contractor, and think you’ve been bugged by a foreign intelligence agency, the FBI will do a bug sweep for you. A number of private security firms will also do a sweep for you, for a hefty fee.

However, if discretion or a lack of money prevents you from calling in someone from the outside, there are still some tips, courtesy of Wikihow(2), that describe how to do your own sweep of your home or office to check for electronic surveillance device.

How to Sweep for Bugs

The first thing you should do is a physical search of the room. Look in everything that might contain a hidden microphone or transmitter, including flower pots, under seat cushions, light fixtures, and so on.

Next, be very quiet and listen as you move across the room. A motion sensor-equipped camera will make a click or a buzzing sound as it follows you.

Turn off the lights and look for small, LED lights that might be part of a recording device. Also, use a flashlight to examine mirrors behind which cameras might be deployed. Look for pinhole openings in the wall or an object that might indicate the presence of a camera.

Try a signal detector(3) or your cell phone to pick up an electromagnetic field that would indicate the presence of a transmission device.

The Law Dictionary(4) also suggests the use of an infrared camera. Many electronic surveillance devices generate heat that can be detected. This method can be particularly effective if you chill down the wall using ice or a fire extinguisher.

A Bugged Landline

If your land line is bugged, it might be an outside tap that can’t be detected by a visual inspection. If you hear noises or odd gaps in conversations, your land line might have been tapped. Your phone might make odd sounds when not in use or have “silent calls” where no one else is on the other end.

One way to tell if your cell phone has been tapped is if your battery life is somehow significantly shorter than it should be, indicating that someone else is accessing it. Strange sounds while you’re on a call or strange texts that looks like numbers and symbols are also possible indications that someone else is listening in. When your phone is not in use, take out the battery to stop it from being a bugging device.

An FM radio can also be used as a bug detector. Turn the channel to the upper end of the band at a silent spot. Move the radio around the room. If it emits a high-pitched squeal, move it around until the volume is at its highest. This method will lead you right to the listening device.

Final Tip

One final tip. Make sure all the drapes or blinds are drawn at your windows. This act will inhibit any attempt to use a remote surveillance device that picks up sounds by the vibration they make on the windows.

Do you suspect that you’re under surveillance? What countermeasures have you taken? Share them with us in the comments section below!

References & Image Credits:
(1) How to Find Spy Devices in the Home
(2) Detect Hidden Cameras and Microphones
(3) High Tech Spy Gadgets
(4) How to Detect Bugs and Listening Devices

Originally published on

  • mlmontagne

    Didn’t James Bond do all of the first four in “From Russia with Love”?

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