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Craigslist as a whole does a good job in keeping your e-mail anonymous when you post something.  I don’t know why people do it, but some people make their e-mails and phone number public by putting it directly in their advertisement, thus obviating any scheme by Craigslist to make it anonymous.

Obviously, the choice is entirely up to you and how you want to display your contact information, but I choose not to make any of my contact information public.  In fact, I even go a step further and don’t reveal my real phone number to people that I’m doing business with on Craigslist even after exchanging several e-mails yet I still make it point to talk on the phone before we meet in person.

I’m pretty protective of my direct personal contact information.  I use a secondary e-mail when I created an account on Craigslist.  This becomes my e-mail in which I correspond with.

After several e-mail exchanges, I would want to talk to them over the phone to feel them out a bit.  I’m still a little apprehensive of giving out my real phone number.  Instead I use a call forwarding service to mask my real number.

The secondary e-mail address is pretty obvious to everyone, but for making a phone call, not everyone thinks to mask their number.

That’s why for anyone renting out a room on Craigslist or doing any business on the internet, I highly recommend signing up for Google Voice.  For those that are unfamiliar with Google Voice, it’s a free phone forwarding service provided that you have a Google account such as Gmail.

When someone calls your Google Voice number(which is selected when you first sign up), the call will now forward to your real phone number.  This forwarding service adds a nice layer of security because you can now post your Google voice number on your Craigslist Advertisement or reveal this number in your e-mail exchanges with the person your conducting business with.

Now, whenever someone calls your Google Voice number, it will be forward the call to your real number, thus making it a convenient way to mask your real number for added security.

 

HOW TO SIGN UP

Step 1.  Point your Web Browser to www.google.com/voice

Step 2. Login with your gmail or google account.  If you don’t have one, you can create one.

Step 3.  At this point, you’ll have the option to choose your phone number based on the availability of phone numbers.  Once you select a number, this will be your Google Voice number, which you can distribute to freely.  After you select a number, you cannot change your number unless you pay a one-time $10 change fee.  So pick your number carefully.  I can’t really see why you would want to change your number unless your area code was unavailable at the time you signed up and the number is now available.

Step 4.  After you signed-up and selected your Google Voice Number, you’re pretty much set to go.  I don’t recall if I changed any of my default settings since I signed up, but the settings are intuitive.

 

OTHER WORDS OF ADVICE

You can send and receive text messages just like you can on any other phone.

Keep in mind when making a call from your mobile voice using Google voice, you’re using your phone Data plan not the minutes on your phone plan.  So all those phone calls and text messages you’re transmitting and receiving is using the data plan.  If you have a limited data plan, watch what you’re consuming.

Voicemails are transcribed into a text message.  This is a nice feature, though it doesn’t always transcribe accurately.

Voicemails and text are also notified to your gmail address.  This feature is nice when you’re traveling abroad and you get text message or voicemails.  Keep in mind, people have to call you on your Google Voice account.  Not your regular mobile phone.

If you have a smart phone, there’s an Android App and Iphone app that’s available to make phone calls using your google voice number.

If you don’t have a smart phone, you’ll be able to receive forwarded calls from Google Voice, but when you dial out, your recipient can see your real number on their caller ID.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’ve been using Google Voice for the past several years and find it an invaluable tool when it comes to exchanging phone numbers especially with entities on the Internet.  I say entities because you just never know you you’re going to be dealing with.  I know there has to be some private people that want to rent out their rooms, but are a little gun shy about putting their contact information out to people.  I feel Google Voice is an excellent way to mask your real phone number.  So, add Google Voice to your bag of tricks.

If you have any other resources that’s helpful for doing business on Craigslist, I would love to hear about them.

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