How to Reply to Craigslist Emails

Stay safe when selling goods or making purchases

When you use Craigslist to sell or purchase something, you communicate by sending an email to the other person in the transaction. To protect buyer and seller privacy, Craigslist keeps email addresses hidden. However, even with this security system, you might want to take additional precautions when responding to emails from Craigslist.

How Contacting Someone on Craigslist Works

Craigslist provides a "cover" email address that is forwarded to the recipient's actual email address. Only Craigslist knows the real email addresses of both parties. This way, if one of the people involved turns out to be untrustworthy, they don't have the other person's email address.

When buying or selling items on Craigslist, you communicate through the website, using this two-way email relay.

How to Email Someone on Craigslist

When you reply to a post (that is, someone has something for sale that you want to buy), you’ll see an address that looks like:

Reply by email options in Craigslist

Craigslist gives you the option of copying and pasting this email address into an email application that you will open on your own, or you can click one of the provided links to automatically open your email account.

Proxy Email Address

When you receive an email in response to an ad you posted, you’ll see an address that looks like: Although the sender used their real email account to contact you, the proxy email address hides their real email address.

When posting an ad, always use the Craigslist proxy email address. Additionally, use only your first name in the Contact Name field.

Emailing through the Craigslist relay

Protect Your Privacy With an Alternate Email Address

When you communicate using the proxy email address, your real name still shows up, as does signature data, such as your company name and phone number. If you're concerned about your privacy, consider using a free alternate email address specifically for purchases.

More Security Tips

Part of the reason Craigslist uses the proxy email system is to prevent scams and the distribution of your private information. But it can only do so much. Do your part by not clicking links within any email you receive unless you trust the sender. Scammers can doctor emails to look like they’re from a particular sender, such as Craigslist—so when in doubt, always contact the sender through Craigslist to verify.

Additionally, once you’re in contact with a buyer or seller, you may want to exchange mobile numbers to make the transaction easier. While the majority of Craigslist users are trustworthy, go with your instincts before offering your mobile number. Also, remember to use personal security habits like meeting in a neutral, public location, such as a coffee shop or grocery store parking lot. 

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