What You Need To Know About Hidden Home Security Cameras

Would you feel uncomfortable if you knew you were on camera -- while you were casually visiting a friend? Home security systems that include cameras are reasonably priced so that many homeowners can now afford them. And that means that you may be recorded during your time at another person's house.

The Background on Hidden Security Cameras

Most home security cameras are trained on the exterior of the home. Hidden cameras in the interior are often called "nanny cams," as they were sometimes used so parents could keep a watchful eye on their in-home child care provider. These types of systems may also be used to watch home-care nurses for older or disabled adults.

These hidden cameras are small enough to be positioned virtually anywhere -- inside a picture frame, on top of a bookshelf or beside a knick-knack or other object. There are two main types:

  • Self recording. These cameras record directly on to a memory card or other type of storage in the home.
  • Wireless. These cams transmit what they record wirelessly via a transmitter to a digital video recorder (DVR) or computer hard drive. They tend to be more popular now because most homes have wireless capabilities, and there's no need to worry about running out of storage.

Are These Systems Legal?

Recording another person without his or her knowledge is illegal in many states, but only if audio is recorded. If video without audio is recorded, it may be just fine. Each state has different regulations about exactly what is permissible and what is illegal, but most "nanny cam" systems simply forego audio recording in order to ensure compliance with most state and federal laws.

What's the Worst-Case Scenario?

You may not be that terribly upset if you find out your friends were recording your evening of watching movies and drinking coffee at their home. But what if you were staying at the home of a friend or acquaintance and found that they'd been recording you -- even in places where you felt you'd have privacy, like a room where you changed clothes?

As well, with the rise of short-term home rentals, you may be staying in a stranger's home with little or no ability to detect whether there's a home surveillance system that includes cameras.

Is There Anything You Can Do?

If you are staying in a home where you aren't entirely sure if you're being recorded, or where the possibility exists, there are a few things you can do.

  • Check your surroundings carefully. You may be able to spot small cameras in locations like bookshelves.
  • Change clothes in a bathroom. Bathrooms are generally illegal to record in, even in a private home -- but that can vary depending on the state.
  • Use a smartphone app designed to detect hidden cameras. Depending on the type of app, it can detect a wireless signal, an electromagnetic field or even the glare of a camera lens.

Home security systems can be an important way to stay safe, and most homeowners use them legally. But it's important to know what could happen, and to keep an eye out when you're staying in a private home or short-term home rental. Click to learn more about this topic.