Getting More Annoying Phone Calls? Is It Craigslist’s Fault?

I’ve had an increase in phone calls lately from out of town. They’re coming from Oregon and Washington state, and since I only know one person living in Washington and no one in Oregon, and I don’t owe anyone any money, I know that they’re probably sales calls of some type.

by Mark Fischer via Flickr

The funny thing is that it’s the same two numbers over and over. That’s rare, as you know these people like to randomly change numbers all the time. I’m not one to call numbers back to find out which companies these are because I don’t want to give them that kind of time. I am the type, though, that looks up phone numbers after awhile to see if I can learn anything about them.

I did that with these two numbers and what I found was interesting. On both numbers, someone mentioned that they had been responding to ads on Craigslist for jobs lately and that it coincided with the increase in calls.

I hadn’t thought about that at all. I also have been checking out links originating on Craigslist for writing gigs, though I haven’t been scouring Craigslist independently. I subscribe to a site that sends out writing offers on a daily basis and within the last couple of weeks I’ve started reaching out to some of these people.

Luckily, one of them has come through and it’s turned into a writing project, but that doesn’t negate any of the rest being dodgy. I contact every one of them through my SEO business account email, which has my phone number in the signature file, and of course it’s on my website if they bothered to check that out.

Can I definitely say these two things are related? No I can’t, but it does bring up the issue of just how much one can trust what we come across online. Whereas in general Craigslist is a fairly trustworthy place, there are a lot of scammers doing things that, until it’s caught, could end up causing you grief. After all, when I wrote my post last year about the anatomy of a scam, that also involved responding to a Craigslist ad.

This is just another warning to be cautious of things you find online, even on Craigslist. You’re never sure what you might be getting yourself into.

31 thoughts on “Getting More Annoying Phone Calls? Is It Craigslist’s Fault?”

  1. I guess if details are advertised publicly there is always the possibility that someone may use them to sell on as a mailing list too. I used to have my details public on Facebook until I started getting spam texts, so I closed it down. Not what I would have preferred but felt there was no option.

    Enjoy the journey.


    1. Hi Mandy,

      First, thought I’d let you know that your comments will always show up in the spam filter first since I only accept names with two or fewer words up front so I hope you forgive me if I ever miss one of your comments from there.

      Second, I worried early on about the type of information I was putting on Facebook for myself. When they made some changes and started showing even more information I removed what I hadn’t wanted out to begin with. I still keep my birthday hidden; thank goodness!

  2. Don’t use Craigslist here in the UK, so can’t comment on that.

    I have, so far, not had any problem with unwanted calls, even with my contact details readily available on Facebook.

    Maybe I have just been lucky?

  3. Hey Mitch an interesting article. That must be so annoying. I do not have experience of Craiglist but it is helpful to consider what you are doing with your info.

    I have my details public on Facebook so have not been having the problems you have. However, as an online marketer, I believe it is a risk we take if we go ‘public’ and we may need to decide what details are available for everyone.

    For example, we may not wish to put our number until people have ‘opted in’ to our list.

    Interestingly enough, I have had problems recently with people we are not my Facebook friends reporting to people I was doing something I shouldn’t (working when off ill).

    Was interesting as I wasn’t but the point I am making is it did make me consider if I want my Facebook Profile public, and I decided as a marketer I do.

  4. Hey Mitchell,

    Hmmmm it’s definitely interesting that the increase in calls happens to coincide with your project seeking activity. I use Craigslist to post about things I’m selling or for gigs but I can’t say I’ve gotten scammers. At least the calls are about something positive!

    1. It was an interesting coincidence Mys. It’s also a coincidence that when I stopped checking them out the phone calls ceased. Very strange timing indeed.

  5. Hey Mitch, yeah that is an interesting relationship with the increase in calls.

    I believe we do need to be a lot more careful with whoever gets our person info.

    It is funny that I just received a call last week stating that my number is listed as someone’s emergency number and of course I never heard of the person.

    1. That’s quite strange indeed Michael. Yes, we do have to be careful, but everything I share is my business information, so at least I have that to be thankful for.

  6. For few years, sales people and black hat marketers are scraping Craigslist. I personally have seen harvester applications that for about an hour can collect about 2000 unique contacts, including emails and phone number and save it in spreadsheet. I personally stopped posting anything there as I think network is abused too much and lost its appeal.

  7. Interesting connection you’ve made. Wouldn’t have thought of it myself. Useful to know if i encounter similar problems in the future. Thanks.

  8. Hi Mitch,

    My first visit here on your Blog….hello 🙂

    Your quite the detective…… Unfortunately though, it goes without saying, somehow somewhere your details are left somewhere and they get found.

    We have the automatic dial sales call here in UK which drives me absolutely mad, you answer then silence, then an automated message…4-5 times a day. my number is ex directory.

    These Black Hat marketers will use any tactic, to them its just a numbers game. Thank goodness for real marketers who understand it is about the relationship you build up and get to like know and trust someone.

    I have a business name that contains part of a business directory’s name and I am getting calls all day long of people asking how I got their details for the Directory…when it is not me in the first place.

    No hiding anymore, Big Brother is watching 😉



    1. Sean, we deal with that here as well, even though the federal government passed a law against it. I guess it’s hard to find these people. What I’ve taken to doing is when the phone rings just taking the handle off the hook and setting it down, then going on about my business. Whether it’s automated or not, if I’m not familiar with the number I’m not talking.

      As to the rest, you’re right there as well. If you have any presence on the web, and almost everyone does, it’s hard to hide almost anything. However, I think I’ve redirected well enough so that all the calls are going to my business line instead of my personal line; I can handle that.

      1. Interesting Mitch, very true, withheld numbers never get answered on my mobile/cellphone….. Look forward to any updates on this. Cheers, Sean

  9. Hi Mitch,
    Interesting turn of events! I have never been able to use the Craigslist effectively back here in Germany

  10. When I started out first website we got constant calls from SEO companies mostly from Oregon. Once I knew the area code I stopped answering them. I haven’t had any from Craigslist but haven’t used that site regularly either.

    1. Lisa, I get tons of emails from SEO companies and, because I have a SEO business and that’s the site they’re usually sending the email to, it proves that they’re not even trying to see who they’re sending this stuff to and thus it’s pretty easy to determine it’s spam. And there are some phone calls coming in that I just refuse to answer, so I’m not sure who they are and kind of don’t care if they’re not leaving messages.

  11. I rarely answer calls that are landline or ‘sponsored’ numbers as I have learnt that these are probably sales calls or people offering me some refunds for insurance claims I never made! When I miss the call I always I like to check the number on internet what people say about it. Thanks for this post!

    1. Thanks for your response Chris. I used to answer all of them on my business phone because I work with people all across the country. I’ve finally stopped, figuring that those who really want to work with me will leave a message, as I do with those I want to work with as well.

      1. That’s a good strategy. If somebody is calling you and you do not answer on purpose, that person would leave a message on your voice-mail. Yep? If there is no message left that means it was definitely a sales call as they do not tend to leave messages. Any real person willing to do business with you or use your services would normally leave the msg on voice-mail. You are right Mitch

  12. We get calls all the time from Washington! I don’t think it has anything to do with craigslist for us. We do use it infrequently to post jobs, but that’s it. I’ve been told that there is just a bot call center out in Tacoma that likes to bother people.

    1. I think we all get lots of spam attention from multiple sources once we determine that we’re going to have a social media presence, but some of it is ridiculous. I don’t blame Craigslist for everything, but some things here and there are suspect.

  13. Impossible to know, but I am sure you have evaluated correctly how you are receiving the calls Mitch. The calls I particularly dislike are the surveys purporting to be from my bank; participate in one of those, and you’ll soon be receiving calls from India, China and beyond selling some type of financial product.

    1. True Richard, some of those folks are lying like crazy. Just proves how we all need to be careful and probably set our own policies for what we answer and when.

  14. For the past months small problems with my contacts being available online and I started to take action.
    Deleted my facebook account, didn’t use that thing anyways and I started to make sure only my business e-mail addresses are available online.

    Anyways, I wish Craigslist was on a global scale…

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