How to Find Out Who Posted Something on Craigslist
By Aaron Charles
Updated August 24, 2017
Craigslist staff won't divulge the identity of the poster unless compelled by a court order. However, if someone has posted an ad that's causing you trouble, there are a few detective-like methods you can try to discern the poster's identity such as reverse phone look-up, web searching or even with an email message. With more than 50 billion page views per month, Craigslist is one of the most popular online classified sites in the world. It is replete with job listings, garage sale announcements, apartments for rent as well as ads for romantic partners, missed connections, rants and raves, offers of services and much more. With so many anonymous ad possibilities, the potential for someone to cause trouble is high, but there are methods that might reveal the identity of the original poster.
When a poster places a transactional ad on Craigslist – such as a "for sale" ad – she can choose to include her personal email address in the ad, opt for a temporary anonymized address issued by Craigslist, or include no email address at all but a phone number or other way of contacting instead. There's a chance that you can uncover who posted the ad by entering that phone number in an online reverse directory, such as White Pages, AnyWho or Intelius. Look for the "Reverse Phone Lookup" on those sites. Another, simpler option is to enter the phone number into a search engine to see if a general Web search brings anything up, such as a website or social network profile.
If there's no phone number in the Craigslist ad but there's a personal email address, enter that into a Web search to see if you get any hits. Otherwise, sometimes taking what appear to be other key bits of text from the ad and doing a Web search for those, with quotation marks around them, you'll find that they match content on a company or personal website. These key bits could be distinctive parts of a job ad or simply a peculiar use of words – anything different enough that it would jump out in a Web search.
You could also try a more direct approach, as you never know what an ad poster might reveal in response to your questions, such as a website, phone number, personal email address – or even a name. Someone might reveal their name and email address to you themselves when replying to your email; the Craigslist message system sometimes carries through the "real name" field that some email users include with their address. And if you discover a website domain, try entering that into a Internet domain search, which could provide you with the domain owner's – and perhaps the ad poster's – name and address.
A more serious approach is to try to discover a poster's identity through a court order. In such cases, you should talk with a qualified attorney who could help navigate you through that process. If successful, the court order would legally obligate Craigslist staff to provide whatever information they have about the slanderous post that could reveal the poster's identity.
Aaron Charles began writing about "pragmatic art" in 2006 for an online arts journal based in Minneapolis, Minn. After working for telecom giant Comcast and traveling to Oregon, he's written business and technology articles for both online and print publications, including Salon.com and "The Portland Upside."