Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist Hell
As many of you know I sell a decent amount of gift cards. Essentially, I purchase gift cards during discount deals and sell them at a higher price. Buyers still get a discount on their favorite brands and I make a profit (hopefully) and earn a decent amount of travel rewards.
There are a few big annoyances with this type of endeavor however. For example, my efforts to streamline and organize my gift card reselling have sometimes failed. I generally find this out when I do a “sweep” and find cards that were not sold or ones that have been set aside for later. I have some processes in place to find these cards during “sweeps” so they aren’t lost forever, but it isn’t ideal.
Anyway, the other day during my latest effort to get all caught up and organized, I had to go through a number of cards that had been set aside for awhile. While processing these cards and determining what to do with them, I ended up checking their balances. These cards were from several brands, meaning I had to use multiple balance checker websites. And that is where the problem began.
Fraud Prevention Gone Rogue
To prevent fraud, most company’s have a Captcha on their balance checker sites. This prevents bots from checking thousands of potential card numbers until they find one that works. What many of you may not know is that one company runs a vast majority of these Captchas and they track your IP to monitor for suspicious activity.
The other day as I was checking the balances, I noticed the Captchas became longer and more complicated as I went from site to site. By the end, I was having to verify 6-10 of the complicated type of Captchas for every single card. At that point I gave up, hoping that things would turn to normal later.
Except that never happened. Shortly after that fiasco, Captchas began popping up on sites where I have never seen them before. I tried to use Top Cashback for example and received this.
Keep in mind that screen comes well after I have verified myself to login. I have to do another Captcha (or 3) to actually click over to a partner site to earn cashback. And it isn’t just Top Cashback. So many sites are giving me this loving treatment.
It Gets Even Worse
While these popups everywhere are annoying, it gets even worse. This morning I was trying to purchase a gift card on eBay and I ended up getting an endless loop of security verifications for the first time in FOREVER. In the end I didn’t get any cards and I suspect it is tied to this. I also use Last Pass as my Password Manager and now my account requires re-authentication almost every time I use it. That never happened before.
So why did this happen?
Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist
It turns out the reason this has happened is because one company (Cloudflare) runs those Captchas and has basically listed my IP as problematic. My behavior of checking gift card balances must have seemed bot like to Cloudflare and that is all they needed. Now I am in Captcha hell.
How to Fix It
As you can see from the graphic above, there aren’t really any ways to fix this other than to let time go on. Since I am not affected by viruses, I’ll just have to wait until Cloudflare drops me from their list. It’s pretty frustrating, but I have learned my lesson and will work to avoid this in the future.
How to Avoid the Captcha Blacklist
In the future I plan to use a few tactics in order to avoid the Cloudflare Captcha Blacklist:
- Use A VPN – VPNs allow you to connect to the internet through a different server than normal. This means I won’t show up to Cloudflare as myself and thus shouldn’t get my IP flagged when checking gift cards.
- Use Other Connections – VPNs are nice, but often their IPs are problematic as well since a lot of people use them. A lot of sites (and Cloudflare) sometimes try to ban VPNs so this might not work all of the time. In those cases I can use someone else’s trusted WiFi connection and even my cell phone connection to check.
- Don’t Check Too Many – The other obvious solution here is to avoid checking multiple gift card sites at once. I can break up my searches over time in order to avoid the dreaded blacklist.
Getting on the Cloudflare Captcha blacklist is a frustrating thing and I honestly didn’t know much about it before it happened to me. If you check a lot of gift card balances (or do other suspicious looking things) then it’s probably wise to use a VPN or at least space out your searches to avoid the Captchas of death. I guess I’d rather my gift card balances be protected, but this is annoying. 🙂
Has this ever happened to you? Let us know in the comments!