How to Find Out if Your Home Has Illegal Electronic Surveillance

By Noel Lawrence - Updated June 16, 2017
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A man’s home may be his castle, but even a fortress is not impervious to illegal electronic surveillance. Bugs and spycams have become smaller, cheaper, and sometimes nearly impossible to detect. Fortunately, counter-surveillance technology has kept with new devices and can identify even the most sophisticated bugs. With a little vigilance and anti-bugging equipment, you can protect your domicile from illegal surveillance.

Use a standard bug detector. Many surveillance cameras and audio bugs emit radio waves and can be identified by a standard RF (radio frequency) detection device.

Conduct a “sweep” of your home with your bug detector. Surveillance devices are often hidden in walls or ceilings, so look for any spots that appear to be spackled or recently spackled. However, with the decreasing size of surveillance equipment, they can be concealed virtually anywhere. Household objects such as pens, clocks, lamps and even watches may contain devices to see and hear what you are doing. Also, keep in mind that exterior windows are excellent places for installing devices since no one has to break into your home to install surveillance equipment.

Don’t let down your guard even if you haven’t found anything. Many surveillance devices can switch frequencies or shut on or off to avoid standard detection equipment. And, of course, a device might simply have a dead battery (until someone replaces it). If you think someone has the cash and motivation to install more sophisticated bugs, purchase a counter-surveillance device that can detect the magnetic fields and electrical “noise” produced by computer circuitry.

Conduct “sweeps” of your home on a regular basis. Keep an eye out for any signs of a break-in as well as any strangers that come inside or even near your home. A phony meter reader or telephone repairmen is an old trick, but that doesn’t mean an estranged spouse or business partner won’t give it a shot. Also, securing the perimeter of your home prevents someone from installing surveillance equipment at the outset. Consider purchasing a home security system to prevent break-ins.


No matter how much you stay on guard, the best way of keeping others from hearing sensitive information is to discuss it outside of your home, office, or other common hangouts. Walking and talking with someone on a busy street is an excellent way to avoid surveillance.

About the Author

Noel Lawrence has written on cultural affairs and cinema for Release Print and OtherZine since 2000. He holds a graduate degree in Russian literature from Stanford University and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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