Craigslist is a popular internet site where you can buy and sell products, look for jobs, or find people to have sex with(despite Craiglist’s assertion that it is not an online pimp, they are making a killing in this area). Regardless of whether your purposes for visiting Craigslist or noble or nefarious, you should beware of an increasingly prevalent email scam that spammers and other online criminals are using the site for.
Phishing is where a hacker gets hold of an email address(or other online information) through some form of trickery and then uses the information for spamming, identity theft, or other illicit activity. As far as email phishing goes, it is even more troublesome than it sounds. You cannot simply block the sender of the spam, as the name of the sender always changes(even though it is an ad for the same site), and you cannot even block common words in the content line, as they are intentionally misspelled(e.g., “insoorance” instead of insurance).
I personally have had to dump my old email address due to a phishing scam perpetrated by a user of Craigslist. I was receiving 25 to 100 spam emails a day with no way to block them. After a few weeks of trying everything I could think of, I simply abandoned my old address and created a new one. I didn’t really have another choice.
So if you are on Craigslist and want to avoid becoming the victim of a phishing scam, what can you do? Here are three tips that should help you avoid a lot of them:
3) If you are posting an ad, require a specific phrase in any response email. This will prevent automated phishing programs from simply sending computer-generated emails to your post in attempt to get you to respond. If a response to your ad does not contain the specific phrase in the subject address, do not click on it.
2) Set up a “dummy” email. There are plenty of sites out there that offer free email. It would be wise to set up a dummy email that is not your personal email account to handle email traffic from potentially dangerous sites such as Craigslist, Facebook, or other privacy-challenged entities. If your dummy email gets hit with a phishing scam, you can just dump it.
1) Do not reply to any ad that has been posted multiple times. If you see an ad for something that you are interested in, look into it. I know this might be difficult if it is a job offer or a seemingly good deal on an item you want to purchase, but this might save you a lot of headaches. If it is a job offer, make sure that the company actually exists and that they have not posted the particular offer over and over. Any ad posted over and over on Craigslist is a probable scam that you should definitely avoid.
It takes a lot of care to keep your email phish free on Craiglist! Follow the three tips I have offered and keep your fingers crossed. Good luck to all!