What Is a Verification Code for Craigslist?

By Chris Blank

Everybody hates Internet spam -- except for Internet spammers. Craigslist, the popular online classified and Web community, has been a spam magnet for years, especially from advertisers who wish to post multiple ads in one category or post the same ads in different cities where Craigslist operates. One of the measures Craigslist has put in place to diminish spam or multiple cross-postings is the verification code.

Phone Verification Process

For many categories, particularly those that involve job listings or money transactions, if you want to post an ad on Craigslist, you must create a verified account. Each account is associated with a unique email address. Some ad categories also require telephone verification. In those cases, you must provide a unique telephone number, either for a cellphone or a land line in addition to your email address. Craigslist verifies the phone number by sending a text message to your cellphone or placing a call to your land line. You must enter the verification code you receive to verify your account and continue posting your ad. Phone numbers must have area codes that identify them as being located within the United States or Canada. No toll-free numbers are allowed.

Bypassing Phone Verification

In the past, some users attempted to bypass the phone verification process by generating phone numbers using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. However, Craigslist has since banned VoIP numbers for phone verification purposes. Other users have attempted to circumvent the phone verification system by using pay phone telephone numbers. However, pay phones are increasingly scarce outside of public facilities such as libraries and airports. In addition, there is no way to tell whether someone else has already used a particular pay phone number to verify an account.

Do Not Call Scam

Some scammers attempt to collect valid telephone numbers from unsuspecting individuals to use for phone verification by posing as officials monitoring "do not call" lists. The scam artists contact the victim, informing this person he or she will receive two additional phone calls to verify the number is actually listed on the "do not call registry." The first call will provide a numeric verification code, which the scam artist instructs the victim to write down. The second call is from the scam artist, who asks the victim for the verification code. The scam artist then uses the victim's verification code to verify a scam account with Craigslist. Scam artists repeat the scam hundreds of times to generate "legitimate" accounts in several cities.

Verified Phone Number List Scam

Another scam involves selling lists of local telephone numbers supposedly pre-qualified for use with Craigslist accounts. The scam artists offer the lists to sale to spammers who want to post ads simultaneously in multiple cities. However, if Craigslist staff suspect the same classified post has been placed in more than one city, or has been posted by an account created by fraud or a scam, the post will be blocked or removed.