How to Report Harassing Emails on Craigslist
By Aaron Charles
As millions of people scour Craigslist each month -- generating over 50 billion page views monthly, according to Craigslist as of March 2013 -- there are bound to be some bad apples who are looking more for trouble than for anything else, even to the point of harassment. Whatever the case is, though, Craigslist doesn't excuse harassment. And the company gives clear direction on what to do if someone you encountered on Craigslist is harassing you via email.
If you're the victim of email harassment, one of the best and first things you can do is to prevent the harasser from getting any more emails to your inbox. Craigslist recommends setting up a block against the harasser in your email client. The exact method for doing this will depend on your email service provider. For example, the Gmail client has filters that enable you to prevent any emails containing certain keywords -- including specific email addresses -- from entering your inbox. By doing this first, you can at least get a little peace of mind as you move to the next step of reporting the harassing emails you've already received on Craigslist.
To report an abusive email to Craigslist staff, there's a submission form that you can use (see Resources). There you select the "Harassment / flagging" option and give your contact information as well as details about the harassment. Also, put "911" in the subject field. If the harassing emails have come from someone who posted an ad, include the Craigslist post ID number of the ad, which will help Craigslist in identifying the person. This might not stop the person from sending harassing emails, but it could limit or suspend his Craigslist activity.
Another way to report a harasser is by submitting a complaint to the person's email service provider. If you know the person's email address, there are websites that give you contact information for people who represent a specific email domain in harassment cases, such as gmail.com or msn.com. For example, if you type in the domain "gmail.com" on the Network Abuse Clearinghouse website (link in Resources), you get the result "firstname.lastname@example.org." So, to report a harassing Gmail account holder to Google, you'd send an email detailing the harassment to that address.
In the past, Craigslist staff encouraged people who had complaints about abusive Craigslist posts or emails to send an email to email@example.com. Now, though, Craigslist appears to use that email address for cases involving copyright infringement or other intellectual property disputes and not harassment cases. Finally, and on another note, if you feel that your life or safety is in danger in any way on account of the harassing emails, don't hesitate to report those emails to your local authorities.
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."