How To Detect Bugs & Listening Devices

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

There are many reasons why you could have bugs or listening devices. If you occupy a sensitive position in a government or corporate office, spies might want to pick up on what you do. If you are embroiled in a legal dispute, others may wish to tap your phones to get evidence for a court case. Whatever the reason, it is a good idea to know how to detect bugs and listening devices in your home or office.

Listen To Your Phone and TV

There are several tell-tale signs that you may have a bug or listening device installed in your phone. If your telephone exhibits changes in volume, odd noises, popping sounds or high-pitched beeps, even if it is hung up, you may have a bug. Your television may also be affected by the presence of a surveillance device and exhibit odd static or interference on certain channels.

Red Flags

Common red flags for bugs and listening devices include discoloration in your interior walls and ceilings, furniture out of place or drywall debris on the floor, a bug may have been planted. Other red flags include receiving gifts from competitors or anonymously or strange, unmarked vans outside or near your house. If you don't remember scheduling a repair service but have repairs done to your home, check to make sure that they didn't install a bug.

Amateur Radio Transmitter Investigation

Most bugs are equipped with radio transmitters, so you will want to purchase a radio receiver to detect radio frequencies and hook it up to noise-canceling headphones. Go through the frequencies and if you detect excessive distortion on a channel, you may be near a radio transmitter device. Scanning your home or office with a police scanner may also be a good option for detecting radio transmitters. Use a stud finder to make sure that frequency distortions aren't due to wiring in your walls.

Infrared Bug Detection

Bugs release heat that may be detected with infrared photography or viewing devices. They are especially effective if you use an ice pack or fire extinguisher to cool your wall down prior to infrared detection.

Commercial Bug Detection Kits

Commercial detectors are available for purchase online or in specialty stores if you are convinced that your home or office is bugged. They will often vibrate rather than beep to indicate that a bug is present so as not to indicate to your eavesdropper that you've discovered their bugs or listening devices.

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