Detect Bugs & Listening Devices

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you, right? In a society that has shown an increasing disdain for privacy, the threat of electronic surveillance is a rare, but very real, possibility. Unfortunately, the spy game is one into which powerful parties have put decades of research and millions of dollars. This means that there is no cure-all. There are countermeasures and countermeasures to the countermeasure. Layer upon layer of deceit and technology stand between the party conducting surveillance and the party being surveilled. Therefore any steps toward uncovering a listening device can only begin with a caveat: If they are truly determined to hear you, you will probably never know. However, that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying. A few steps can help you determine whether or not your home is under surveillance.


1. Using headphones, go slowly through your radio dial and listen for uniform distortion. Bleeps or recurring patterns could indicate the presence of a covert listening device. Most amateur surveillance threats will come in the form of battery-powered radio transmitters that gather sound, then transmit to an outside receiver.

2. Scour your home with a police scanner. Police scanners provide a portable method of refining your search. Carry the scanner around your house, carefully listening with headphones.

3. Carry a stud detector while searching with a police scanner. Hearing a change in the frequency could be evidence of a bug, but is more likely to be interference from wiring behind the wall. If interference in the scanner’s signal is detected simultaneously with a stud, then a bug is unlikely.

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4. If improvised methods aren’t working, purchase a commercial bug detector. These devices are designed to vibrate or light up, rather than beep, to prevent eavesdroppers from becoming aware of your search. This will allow you to pinpoint the bug’s exact location. Listening devices can operate at any frequency, meaning that most commercial detectors can search frequencies as low as 1 mhz and as high as 6 GHz.

5. Take pictures of your house using infrared photography. Unfortunately, some of the more advanced bugs are designed to thwart the commercial bug detectors, mostly by rapid frequency changes. These more advanced bugs can still be detected through infrared photography, which can pick up the heat signature of a listening device, especially if the wall’s surface is first cooled with liquid nitrogen, or even a fire extinguisher.

6. Call your phone company for help. If there seems to be no covert listening device inside, but data continue to leak, then it is likely that the device is not located inside. Many phone providers will search the line outside your house for installed listening devices, either for free or a small fee. Of course, if phone surveillance is being conducted by the federal government, there would be no external device.