While Craigslist is a popular place to purchase and sell secondhand things in your region, it is also rife with frauds. Because Craigslist is an open platform with no verification, individuals often use it to defraud others.
An attacker attempting to hack into your Gmail (or other email) account is one Craigslist fraud. Here’s how this scam works, how to recognize it, and how to avoid it.
How Craigslist Handles Email Addresses
Craigslist employs email obfuscation by default to protect you and the persons you contact via the site. When you click the answer button in a listing, Craigslist gives you an address like this:
When you send an email to this address, it is sent to the email account of the individual who submitted the listing. When they react to your message, they see a similar address. This implies you may converse without revealing either person’s true address.
However, nothing in the body of your email address, such as the text of your signature, is protected. Many people’s email signatures include their email address, social network connections, phone number, or other personal information. As a consequence, while responding to a Craigslist ad, you may wind up giving the other person more information than you meant.
This isn’t an issue for an honest individual. However, if someone wants to take advantage of you, this may allow them to target one of your accounts.
How Craigslist Scammers Try to Break Into Your Email
The fraudster has enough information to change your password using your email address, phone number, and potentially your name (given by your email client). They may utilize your email address from your signature on the account recovery page for your email provider if they know it.
While our example focuses on your email account, attackers might perpetrate a similar assault on one of your social accounts or anything else in your signature.
They will attempt to reset your password since they do not have it. The scammer will send a recovery code to the phone number you supplied in your signature, or maybe a backup email address, depending on the security measures you’ve set up and the recovery choices on your account.
This mail may also include material in a foreign language, depending on where the fraudsters are situated. This is a sure symptom of a hoax.
This is when the trick becomes complicated. After you indicate interest in whatever item the individual is selling, they will contact you, stating that they want to ensure they’re dealing with a genuine person since there are many fraudsters on Craigslist.
They want you to tell them the code that “they” sent you to establish your identity. You’ve fallen for the con if you do this. Scammers may then use this code to reset your email password to anything they want, shutting you out.
If You Fall for the Craigslist Scam
If you fall for this ruse, you’ll have to contact Google support (or the help for whichever email service you use) to try to regain access to your account. However, the fraudster may do significant harm while in your email account, such as changing passwords for other accounts, contacting your pals with bogus demands for money, and so on.
More information: How Scammers Can Use Your Email Address
If this occurs to you, notify others and contact account support immediately. Advice on restoring a compromised Gmail account may be found in our guide.
How to Protect Against Craigslist Email Scams
After reading the previous scenario, you should be aware of a few strategies to protect yourself against such scams.
First and foremost, you should always investigate a Craigslist ad before replying to it. Poor language or ambiguous remarks are red flags that it may not be authentic. It’s also a good idea to run a reverse image search to determine whether the photographs were obtained from someplace else on the internet, which is a dead giveaway that it’s a forgery. Genuine vendors will not utilize another person’s photos in their ad.
In our case, however, the mentioned picture did not show in a reverse image search. It’s conceivable that the fraudsters hacked into a valid Craigslist account and took over the ad, or that they just duplicated the material from another post.
Second, delete any personal information from your email signature. To be even more secure, try using a different email account for Craigslist conversations exclusively. That way, if someone attempts to hack into it, they won’t have access to your primary email account.
Related: How to Create a New Email Address in an Instant
Also, remember that you should never, ever send automatic recovery codes to anybody who requests them. Anyone requesting this code is attempting to get access to your account.
If you get a recovery code that you did not request, someone is most certainly attempting to break into your account (even if they aren’t actively engaging with you, as in this case). You should change your password for that account and keep a look out for more notifications.
It’s a good idea to keep your most critical accounts’ recovery choices up to date. If you do lose access, having multiple trustworthy email addresses or phone numbers gives you more choices for regaining access.
Finally, setup two-factor authentication (2FA) on all of your accounts. This makes it more difficult for an unauthorized person to change your password. When configuring 2FA, use an authenticator app rather than SMS or email recovery codes since they are less vulnerable to hijacking or social engineering.
Avoid Craigslist Scams and Protect Your Email Accounts
We’ve looked at one form of Craigslist email scam that you should be aware of. Giving attackers too much information about yourself, together with a vital recovery code, can result in robbers stealing your email account. Always use care while dealing with Craigslist advertisements, and never provide important account information, such as recovery codes, to those who ask for it.
Unfortunately, these aren’t the only internet frauds to be aware of.
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