How to Spot Signs of Surveillance
There are countless different ways in which someone can spy or eavesdrop on you without your knowledge. Fortunately, there are also many surveillance signs that can indicate whether hidden cameras or microphones have been installed in your home, office, computer, car or cell phone. While installation may be easy, people may be in a hurry and leave behind traces of their work. Perhaps you’ve already noticed a few things that don’t seem quite right. We’ve put together a list of typical signs that suggest you may be being spied on to help you detect hidden cameras or microphones:
Electrical fixture wall plates are slightly out of place.
Wall plates showing signs of disturbance is a common sign of surveillance. Specifically, light switches, electrical outlets, and smoke alarms are popular places for eavesdropping devices. For example, look for debris on the floor beneath a fixture, or for a subtle color differences in the wall plate color. Similarly, you might even notice that the screws of the wall plate are in a different position than they were before.
A small discoloration on a ceiling or wall can mean you’re being spied on.
It may be very small, but a circular spot, no larger than a coin, is a signal that you are being spied on. In particular, small devices such as pinhole microphones or video cameras, rest on the other side of a ceiling and may leave an impression.
Your home or office has been broken into, but nothing was stolen.
Logically, burglars do not break into a home and take nothing, unless they were there for another reason, like installing eavesdropping devices. They may break in several times over a prolonged period, so repeat theft-free burglaries are a clue. Notably, physical evidence may be as subtle as slightly moved furniture and table-top items. So, check for exposed imprints on rugs or carpets, or dust-rings under lamps or telephones.
Check your vinyl baseboard – where the floor and wall meet.
Another sign of surveillance, is changes in your vinyl baseboards. Because most spy devices require some wiring, the person has to hide the wires. A favorite spot is behind the vinyl baseboard. So, look for a ridge, bump, or discoloring. If you find any, then check further for hidden microphone or wiring.
Beware vendors or suppliers bearing electronic gifts.
A popular tactic is to give you an alarm clock, radio, desk lamp or almost any other type of electronic. The gift giver may have hidden a microphone or camera, but because you know them, you don’t suspect it is bugged. Unfortunately, it is not limited to electronic gifts. Notably, desktop items like pens, calculators, and even Post-It dispensers, can house spying devices.
A familiar item or sign in your home or office simply looks off.
Eavesdroppers try to hide devices in the least obvious place. For this reason, fixtures like lamps and clock radios that you hardly pay attention to are popular choices. A sudden change in these familiar items may be a sign of surveillance. Remember, any item that has been affected, is rarely left in exactly the same way. Thus, look to see if any are a little crooked, or showing a strange semi-reflective surface, or even have a tiny hole.
You notice white debris close to a wall.
It stands to reason that to install a small microphone or video camera inside the wall, you must bore a hole into them. Thus, debris like drywall dust, will fall to the ground. If you spot some white powder-like dust, it may indicate someone has installed a device and you are being spied on.
Similarly, you notice debris on the floor away from the wall or on your desk, that appear like minute pieces of ceiling tile.
Moveable ceiling tiles are ideal for hiding microphones and cameras. But, they are easily damaged when moved. Look for small pieces on the floor, or gouges, chips, cracks or sagging in the tiles.
Clear sign you’re being spied on – new items in your home or office appear from nowhere.
Beware of new items at home or in your office. If you notice anything new, like a wall clock, phone, lamp or even picture frame, ask where it came from. If no one knows, it may have been planted there with a surveillance device inside it.
Your TV starts to experience unusual interference.
As with your radio, spying devices emit signals and can interfere with your TV’s reception, particularly on UHF channels (usually channels 2, 7, 13, 14, 50-60, and 66-68). If you notice interference, this is a sign of surveillance.
Utility company workers or servicers show up without anyone calling for them.
The oldest trick eavesdroppers pull is to pretend to be a plumber, air-con repair man or utilities company worker coming to fix a problem. Most people never question service providers, but it allows eavesdroppers to gain access to a building or office to install surveillance devices.
You notice utility or cable company vehicles parked near your home or office but with no visible occupants, or frequently carrying out “repair work” in your area.
As mentioned above, eavesdroppers often use service vans as surveillance posts for to listen in on your activity. Of course, sometimes this their presence is perfectly innocent. However, an indication you’re under surveillance is if you notice the same track or van more than three times over a short period of time. You can contact the specific utilities company to see if work is being required on your street.
The locks on your doors become easily stuck, or just don’t feel right.
It may just need to be oiled, but when your lock suddenly becomes stiff, sticky or even fails completely, it’s a strong indication that you’re being spied on. The chances are that someone picked or otherwise manipulated it in order to get inside and install spy devices.
Your files or belongings appear to have been disturbed or rummaged through, but there doesn’t seem to be anything missing.
Eavesdroppers often mistakenly think that items left out of sight are easily forgotten. So, when rummaging through filing cabinets, desk drawers or dresser drawers, they are less concerned about leaving everything back the way it was. If things aren’t exactly as you remember them then there is every reason to be suspicious.
You receive a written or recorded copy of a private conversation you’ve had.
Obviously, this is solid proof you have been under surveillance. Sometimes eavesdroppers send copies of private conversations to let you know they have something on you. This is an easy way to blackmail, intimidate, or otherwise psychologically undermine the target. This tactic is frequently used in divorce cases, civil suits, custody battles, criminal cases, to seek an advantage over the other.
Unauthorized people seem to know information about your business that should have been confidential.
The clear indication that you are being spied on is where one of your business competitors appears to have knowledge of some aspect of your company that is proprietary or sensitive in nature. For example, your competitor might consistently out-bid you for contracts, or a third party refers to the contents of confidential company documents. It is possible they have gained access to this information by bugging your office, telephone, or computer.
Your AM/FM radio starts to experience unusual interference.
In the movies, we often blame UFOs for radio interference. But in the real world, sudden interference is more likely because someone tampered with your antennae. Interference happens when more than one electronic device shares a frequency. Since many listening devices use frequencies just inside the FM radio band, when they’re located in the same room with a radio, the radio will squeal. In this way, the radio is a bug detector because the closer it is to device, the louder the squeal.
When your phone is hung up, you hear a tone on your phone line.
If you can hear a faint but continuous dull tone, it suggests that someone hooked up a “slave” eavesdropping device to your phone line. In this case, the chance you are being spied upon is high.
When your phone is on the hook, you hear noises coming from the handset.
A Hook Switch Bypass turns your phone’s receiver into a microphone. When installed, they create noises when your phone is on the hook. Additionally, this creates a double dilemma because it is effective within a radius of 20 feet from the phone. So, even when you’re not talking on the phone, an eavesdropper can monitor what is being said.
Unusual sounds on your telephone line, such as static, popping, or humming when you’re speaking on the phone.
Another sign of surveillance is due to wiretaps. When someone connects two conductors to form a phone tap, they create a capacitive discharge. This capacitive discharge causes noises on the phone.
Frequently, when you answer the phone, no-one is there but a faint, a high-pitched tone can be heard.
A final sign you are being spied on – hearing tones with no one on the other end. While it may just be FAX machine calling the wrong number, several listening bugs can also be the culprit. Among the other possibilities, however, is a slave device, a line extender, an infinity transmitter, or a harmonica bug.