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Craigslist: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Part 1

Craigslist: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly | Part I | Part II | Part III |

Craigslist has become one of the greatest online tools for job seekers, buyers, sellers, online daters, and anyone wishing to express their opinion about local issues. Formatted like local classified ads you would find in a newspaper, Craigslist allows anyone to post under the following headings: community, personals, discussion forums, housing, for sale, services, jobs, gigs, and resumes.

Started in 1996 by Craig Newmark as a way to let his friends in San Francisco know about local events, Craigslist has become a resource used in all major US cities. However, despite the advantages of using Craigslist, there are also risks involved.

It’s important to be aware of not only the benefits of a service such as Craigslist, but of the things you can do to make it more secure for both you and your family.

The Good

First, let’s cover the benefits of Craigslists and the security measures they have taken thus far to protect users. While many have found employment, sold items, or bought that longed-for antique through Craigslist, an equal number have come into contact with some kind of scam or inappropriate behavior as they’ve used the site. These are the security protocols currently in place on Craigslist:

Anonymous Contact Info

Craigslist allows all users to have their identity protected if they so choose. An arbitrary email address is assigned to each posting. When seekers respond to a post, they are not given the real email address of the person who posted, but a generic address generated by Craigslist. The message is then forwarded through Craigslist’s secure network to the correct address.


Craigslist offers a flagging system, both for good and bad items. Whenever users see a posting that they think may be questionable, they can select to flag it by selecting one of the following options from the flag box in the upper right-hand corner of the page: miscategorized, prohibited, spam/overpost, or best of craigslist. This last option is for any posting they think is a particularly good post, whether the product is good or they just think the posting if unique. Flagging is excellent for marking inappropriate posts. Any user can flag an item—they don’t need a user ID and password. However, it takes a specified number of flags before a post will be removed, which is determined by the Craigslist site administrators.

Scam Alerts

Before entering any craigslist category page, you must read a Scam alert page and accept the risks involved with using the site. The Scam alert is different for each page and describes the risks for that particular category. For some pages, such as personals, you must certify that you: are at least 18 years of age, understand that postings may not always be correctly categorized, are willing to flag any inappropriate posts, and that you thereby release Craigslist from any liability. Here are the exact Scam alerts posted on a few of their pages:


SCAM ALERT – scammers posing as potential romantic partners are directing CL users to age and identity verification sites, dating/adult/cam sites (where you can see their “pics” or chat with them), even sites designed to deliver malware — all in hopes of earning affiliate marketing commissions at your expense.


SCAM ALERT – affiliate scammers are posting bogus ads promising (nonexistent!) employment, paid research trials, or other compensation, but then notifying repliers that they’ll need to jump through a hoop first, directing them to:

  • background checking services
  • credit checking or reporting sites
  • sites where you are instructed to enter your resume or other personal information
  • sites where you are asked to sign up for a “free” trial offer
  • sites offering training or education
  • sites offering a “system” for making money
  • survey or focus group sites
  • sites designed to deliver malware or misuse your identifying information
  • all in hopes of earning affiliate marketing commissions or otherwise profiting at the expense of persons seeking employment.

About the Author
Natalie Clive is a writer for My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them search for online degrees that can help them reach their goals.

We would like to thank our guest writers on the Online Security Authority Blog! We feel it’s a honor and pleasure, to have others participate and contribute to the great content, advice and opinions on and in this Online World, we all live in… help us, help them, by supporting and visiting their sites!

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