We help protect your privacy (including attorney-client communications) by searching for spyware, trojans, viruses, and rootkits on mobile phones (iPhones and Androids) and computer (PC and Mac). We also use specialized equipment to “sweep” for listening devices and cameras in homes, offices, and vehicles.
We do not do surveillance. We STOP surveillance to protect your privacy and give you peace of mind!
Please see our Fees page for a list of our services and fees.
Counter Surveillance – Cybersecurity – Bug Sweep – TSCM
Howe & Associates performs counter-surveillance services for both companies and individuals, looking for and removing any surveillance devices that may be present.
We begin with an interview so that we can determine your exact needs and concerns. We conduct bug detection sweeps on a variety of places and objects, including:
- Home Office
- Car or other Vehicle
- Computer (PC or Mac)
- Cell Phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry)
- Computer Router
Using up-to-date technology and techniques, we are able to detect a wide variety of devices, such as:
- Wire and microphone taps
- Wireless transmitters
- Phone taps
- Radio frequency (RF) bugs
- Ultrasonic bugs
- Pinhole cameras
- Wireless cameras
- Infrared surveillance devices
- Carrier current bugs
- GPS trackers
- Computer spyware
A standard bug sweep, or TSCM (Technical Surveillance Counter Measures) inspection, involves several different steps. We will carry out a thorough inspection of all requested areas, including the walls, electrical fixtures and outlets, and windows, as well as any items on the premises (lamps, furniture, office supplies, etc.) capable of housing devices and allowing eavesdroppers to invade your privacy. Here are some of the services we perform:
- A “silent sweep,” which can find surveillance devices while they’re in operation.
- An RF spectrum analysis, which checks for radio and telephone transmitters.
- An inspection of power lines.
- Electronic and physical inspections of phones and phone lines.
- A physical search of the premises.
Should we detect surveillance equipment, we can then suggest a suitable course of action to eliminate the intrusion into your privacy. This usually includes removing the surveillance equipment and informing you how to take measures to prevent any further surveillance from occurring in the future. Some clients choose to notify the authorities or delay removing a device (an action which lets eavesdroppers know you are aware of them) in order to provide misinformation.
Please note that we do not sell any surveillance or counter-surveillance equipment, and we do not install surveillance devices. We conduct counter-surveillance detection and device removal services only.
How It Works
Using our service is simple, and we can get started very quickly after you initially contact us. Here is the easy 4-step procedure to getting things underway.
- Contact us at (503) 227-6660 to discuss your needs. We will explain to you how the counter-surveillance and bug-detection operation works so that you know what to expect.
- You determine what locations (such as home or business) and property (vehicles, computers, cell phones) need to be inspected.
- On the agreed date, we will complete the counter-surveillance work.
It’s as simple as that. Let us get started helping you address your surveillance concerns with our fast and effective services.
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 signs that can indicate whether covert surveillance devices may have been installed in your home, office, computer, car or cell phone. People can easily plant hidden bugs, cameras, and other devices, but because these individuals are often in a hurry to do the job and get out, they often fail to take the steps necessary to make these devices undetectable. 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 under surveillance:
- The wall plates of electrical fixtures are slightly out of place. Because electrical fixtures are a popular place for eavesdropping devices, signs that the wall plates of these fixtures have been moved may suggest a device has been installed. Some of the most popular fixtures to hide devices in or behind are light switches, electrical outlets and smoke alarms. Look for debris on the floor beneath a fixture, or for a subtle color differences in the wall plate color, which suggests someone switched the plate. 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. It may be very small, but a circular spot, no larger than a coin, is a strong indication that one or a number of tiny devices may have been placed there. The devices include pinhole microphones or video cameras, and as they rest on the other side of the ceiling, they may leave an impression.
- Your home or office has been broken into, but nothing was stolen. Logically, burglars do not break into a premises and take nothing, unless they were there for a very specific purpose – for example, installing devices to eavesdrop on you. They may break in several times over a prolonged period, so repeated theft-free burglaries may be a giveaway. Physical evidence is subtle, with perhaps furniture and table-top items moved slightly. So, check if imprints on rugs or carpets are exposed, or dust-rings under lamps or telephones.
- The vinyl baseboard along where the floor and wall meet features a bump or ridge. Most eavesdropping devices require some wiring, which needs to be tucked discreetly out of sight. A favorite option is behind the vinyl baseboard, so any deformation, like a ridge or bump suggests someone may have embedded a microphone or wiring there. The deformation might be as discreet as a change of color on the baseboard.
- A vendor or supplier presents you with an electronic gift. Beware vendors or suppliers baring gifts. Receiving an alarm clock, radio, desk lamp or almost any other type of electronics can be a way in for eavesdroppers. These items may contain a microphone or camera, but because it is a known person giving them to you, you’ll never suspect it being bugged. Of course, it doesn’t have to electronic items. Desktop items like pens, calculators, and even Post-It dispensers, can house spying or eavesdropping devices.
- A familiar item or sign in your home or office simply looks off. These items can include lamps, clock radios or even exist signs, and they may look a little crooked, have a strange semi-reflective surface, or even have a tiny hole on their surface or stand. Eavesdroppers try to hide devices in the least obvious places, especially items that are hardly noticed from day to day. But remember that any item they are installed in are rarely left back in exactly the same way. There is usually good reason to suspect any item that has a seemingly changed appearance.
- You notice white debris close to a wall. It stands to reason that to install a small microphone or video camera inside the wall, it is necessary to bore a hole to them into. But it also stands to reason that 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.
- Similarly, you notice debris on the floor away from the wall or on your desk, that appear like minute pieces of ceiling tile. Your office may have moveable ceiling tiles, which are ideal for hiding microphones and cameras behind. But when moving them, eavesdroppers often damage them slightly, with small pieces falling onto the floor, desk or table below. There are other tell-tale signs, including the tiles seeming to be gouged, chipped, cracked, sagging, or improperly aligned with the track.
- New items in your home or office appear from nowhere. New items at home or in your office have been put there by someone. 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, the signals from an eavesdropping device can sometimes be within the frequencies used by televisions. But in doing so, spying devices can cause interference in your TV’s reception, particularly on UHF channels (usually channels 2, 7, 13, 14, 50-60, and 66-68). If you notice interference, it has probably been caused by transmissions from an eavesdropping device.
- 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, service, or delivery company vehicles parked near your home or office but with no visible occupants. As mentioned above, these types of vehicles are so commonly used by eavesdroppers, they are typically included in spy movies. Service vans and trucks are often used as surveillance posts from which eavesdroppers listen in on your activity. They either have tinted windows or have windowless areas at the rear where one or more people, and their equipment, can be concealed from view. Roof racks might conceal an antenna or other surveillance equipment. Eavesdroppers typically move location to try to avoid detection, but are never more than 750 feet of their target, so take a look around the vicinity to confirm your suspicions.
- Phone company, cable company, or utilities trucks and workers are constantly carrying out “repair work” in your area. Work vehicles are used to house equipment on which eavesdroppers can monitor you. Of course, sometimes this their presence is be perfectly innocent, but if the same track or van is seen more than three times over a short period of time, it suggests some sort of surveillance may be going on. 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 be a case that it needs to be oiled, but when your lock suddenly becomes stiff, sticky or even fails completely, it’s a strong indication that your lock has been tampered with. The chances are that someone has picked or otherwise manipulated it in order to get inside.
- Your files or belongings appear to have been disturbed or rummaged through, but there doesn’t seem to be anything missing. Eavesdroppers often make the mistake of thinking 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. Eavesdroppers are often quite sloppy.
- 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, and is frequently used in divorce cases, civil suits, custody battles, criminal cases, and other instances in which one side is seeking 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 car radio starts to experience unusual interference. In the movies, this is often attributed to UFOs, but in the real world, sudden interference or signal fluctuations are more likely an indication that your car antenna has been tampered with by an eavesdropper.
- Interference on your AM/FM radio. Interference is created when frequencies are shared between more than one electronic device. Since many listening devices use frequencies just inside the FM radio band, when they’re located in the room with a radio, the radio will squeal. The good news is that the radio be used as a bug detector because the closer it is to device, the louder the squeal. For higher sensitivity, the ‘stereo’ function should be switched off
- You hear a tone on your phone line when the phone is hung up. If you can hear a faint but continuous dull tone, it suggests that a “slave” eavesdropping device has been hooked up to your phone line. It may also be on your neighbor’s line, but the likelihood of an eavesdropping device is high.
- When your phone is on the hook, you hear noises coming from the handset. This may indicate that a Hook Switch Bypass has been installed, a device that effective turns your phone’s receiver into a microphone. 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, clicking, scratching, popping, or humming, or fluctuations in volume when you’re speaking on the phone. Wiretaps frequently make noises on a phone line due to what’s called a capacitive discharge, which occurs when two conductors are connected in order to create a phone tap.
- Frequently, when you answer the phone, no-one is there but a faint, a high-pitched tone can be heard. Several listening bugs can be responsible for this, but it may also be due to something as simple as a FAX machine or modem calling the wrong number. Amongst the other possibilities, however, is a slave device, a line extender, an infinity transmitter, or a harmonica bug.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m a little apprehensive about using a counter-surveillance service. Can you keep my use of your services confidential?
Yes. All conversations and services between you and Howe & Associates are kept completely confidential. One of the advantages of hiring a law firm, is you are protected by attorney-client privilege. We understand that you may not wish other people to know you suspect you are being spied on, or that you are taking any counter-surveillance measures. For this reason, we are very discreet about our service.
Can you check to see if my cell phone is tapped?
Yes. We have equipment that can detect evidence of eavesdropping on cell phones, including both iPhones, Android and Blackberry smartphones.
Can you find out if my computer is being spied on?
Yes. We use technology to find out if your PC or Mac has been the target of computer hacking in order to record or retrieve information.
Do you sell bug detection equipment?
No. We do not sell bug detectors, camera detectors, or any other detecting devices. We only provide services using our own equipment.
Do you provide any surveillance services?
No. We will not do any type of surveillance of another person or company on your behalf. We only perform counter-surveillance to determine if someone is eavesdropping or spying on you.
How long does it take to perform a bug sweep?
The time it takes to complete a sweep depends on the size of the area you are having inspected. We do a thorough job, which can be very time consuming. But we provide you with Flat Fee Predictable Pricing so you know the cost up front.
What happens once the sweep is completed?
Once we have completed the inspection, we will give you both a verbal and written report summarizing our findings. If we have detected any surveillance devices, we will advise you on how to proceed, including removal of the devices and how to prevent future eavesdropping.